Monday, October 31, 2022

Accidents Happen

 Or perhaps more accurately, negligent discharges happen.  10/29/22 Police Tribune:

Salinas, CA – An off-duty Santa Cruz police officer accidentally shot himself and fatally wounded another man as he was cleaning his personal firearm last week, according to investigators.

The incident occurred near the 1500-block of Antelope Drive at approximately 5:45p.m. on Oct. 21, KTVU reported.

According to Salinas Police Department (SPD) investigators, Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) Officer Francisco Villicana, 22, was off-duty and preparing to clean his personal firearm when he unintentionally discharged the weapon.

He won't be prosecuted.  If you read California's excusable homicide statute:

1. When committed by accident and misfortune, or in doing any other lawful act by lawful means, with usual and ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent. 

I can see how this is marginally within the definition.  How exactly, did this discharge happen?  Did he fail to clear the chamber before disassembly?  Did he load the chamber and then verify trigger functionality?  I doubt anyone will ever ask and they should.

Remember: a firearm is a dangerous tool.  No modern firearm should go off accidentally.  You make sure the gun is unloaded before cleaning.  You make sure you very carefully lower the hammer if you are going to carry or store your pistol Condition 1.   A rifle or shotgun should never be stored or carried Condition 1 except in combat; many gun trainers believe even handguns should never be stored Condition 1.  I recently cataloged a mass murder where the murderer died when the .270 Winchester rifle in the front seat fell over and killed him.

I have owned firearms since 1982.  I have never had an "accidental discharge."

Tangential point.  Gun banners insist that police can be trusted with guns because they are better trained than civilians.  Police are humans, too.  Some are very competent at shooting; some are not.  Carelessness is a common human problem.

As I was reminded, Glocks have no external safety and no hammer to lower except by pulling the trigger.   I like Glocks but they are just easy for kids to fire with no knowledge at all.


  1. I did have a firearm discharge once, while small game hunting, when a safety broke. I was holding the butt on my thigh, and pointing the barrel up at the sky, while speaking with my friend. I heard a bang, and a slam into my side. I at first thought that my friend had shot me.
    Then, I quickly figured out that my own gun had gone off. An old bolt action shotgun, I was so grateful that I had been using caution and proper gun safety and not pointing my gun in an unsafe direction.
    This cop did not seem to use usual and ordinary caution, when cleaning his weapon, because it is stressed to every single gun owner, to always ensure that your gun is not loaded, before cleaning. I mean, really stressed, to the point of almost absurdity. Apparently not so absurd, and not stressed enough, in this cops case, and now, this man has to live with the knowledge that he killed someone with his own mistake. It is a sad thing, for both him and the man's family.

  2. I had my own N.D. around 1984 with a 1911. I was alone and luckily the round went harmlessly into the ground. I broke two of Col. Cooper's 4 Rules and call that "My One." I was almost killed by someone else's in 1989 that broke all four rules as well as unfamiliarity with the gun and no training. It was by sheer dumb luck I wasn't hit.

  3. One negligent discharge for me. I have a bunch of 7-round magazines, and one 8-round. You can see where this is going. Ever since then I only load 7 rounds per mag for that gun, regardless of the mag capacity.