A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, November 18, 2005

From an email......

They say the loudest sound you ever heard was the gun you thought wasn't loaded. Here's an unapologetic account of a self shooting with pictures.

"Well....I've always heard it's not a matter of "if, but "when". My number came up and I paid a hefty price.

Last Friday I was preparing to go shooting the next AM with a buddy of mine. I had just put a new a-grip on my Glock, and was going to clean it after my wife and I finished our movie. Crash is an awsome movie BTW.

I put the weapon back together and inserted the mag. I did not pipe a round because I knew I was going to strip it later. I went upstairs and put the weapon in the tool box in the garage.

About and hour later (mid-night or so), I returned to the garage to finish cleaning and getting gear together for the morning. I picked up the Glock, dropped the mag and prepared to remove the slide. I done this literally thousands of times in the last fifteen years, but this times things were a little different. I grabbed the slide getting ready to push the takedown pins and pulled the trigger......BANG!!!!! Apparently I DID pipe a round an hour prior. My shooting bud attributes it to force of habit, but why the hell didn't I check the chamber before pulling the trigger? Should that be force of habit too?

Not only did I set off a .45 in my garage, but I passed right through my left hand......Yep....I fucking shot myself point blank. I'm still having a hard time getting my head around what I did. I was SO angry at myself. I have always been uber safe with any firearm, but one lack of procedure changed everything. I'm really taking this hard, and all the "it could have been worse", "accidents happen", and "thank God you didn't lose your hand statements really don't help. I guess I'm getting over it, but it still seems very surreal to me.

Here are details....I know you all are morbidly curious, and I don't mind telling...it's kinda like therapy for me.
I DID NOT hear the shot (nor did my ears ring afterwards), and it felt sorta like catching a fastball right in the palm of your glove. I have a very clear image, and suspect I always will, of the hole in my hand...perfect .45 diameter not bleeding....yet. I took a few seconds, and then the arterial arch in my palm cut loose. Blood like you wouldn't believe. I think the fact that I was a Paramedic in a former life helped me out here. I walked into the laundry room and grabbed a towel to wrap it up, call up the stairs for my wife to come down. I remember thinking "if I go get her, I'll mess up the carpet on the stairs". No lie. She came down half asleep and kind of grumpy, and I told her "I just put a bullet in my hand". Said she was calling 911 and according to her I responded "That would be a good idea.." My wife is neo-natal RN, and can remain cool as a cucumber. This helped me out too I think.

I went back into the garage, put my blasted hand on the floor kneeling on the towel and proceeded to open my ever present jump-bag with the other. I opened a US issue trauma dressing with my teeth, and proceeded to wrap my hand. Those dressing are the schiz nit by the way. My wife later told me it was very "Die-Haredesque"......
I do remember cussing at myself the entire time...I have never been that angry before.....

Four cops, the shift sup., a pumper truck and am ambulance later I was off to the ER. I didn't feel any pain until I got in the ambulance. The endorphins shut down and it hurt like nothing you can imagine. No tickets from the cops, but did have to ask which weapon I did it with. My garage looks like an arsenal pre-range trip.

The bullet (a Black Talon no less..) shattered my ring finger meta-tarsal, and 'removed' two others. It destroyed the flexor tendon of my ring finger, almost separated my pinky tendon, and exited the right side of my wrist just above my watch band. There was a definite exit hole, but the blast force blew the side of my palm WIDE open about three inches in length. I didn't even see the exit wound until I removed my watch for the FD. Anyway, nine hours of surgery, three screws, a tendon graft from my forearm and about two-hundred sutures later I was put back together. My surgeon said if anyone has to get shot in the hand, this was how to do it. No nerve damage....whew. Physical therapy twice a week for God knows how long, and the surgeon expects at least 80% function back.

I've included a pic of the round. Snap-On tool boxes are quite literally bullet proof. The jacket separated from the slug when it hit the box, that's why the slug is flat on one side. If the mods permit, I'll post pics of my hand too.....it's pretty burly, and will drive the point home.

Thanks for listening. My wife thinks I'm crazy to post this, but it really does help me feel better. Remember....check the chamber twice, then check it again."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Xavier... that wasn't you?

7:42 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Let me be very clear......Fortunately it wasn't me.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Please keep us informed of his recovery.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pictures like that stiched up hand will have me checking the chamber twice.

Very respectable that he didn't try to chalk it up to some bizarre serious of events or glock-gnomes or other BS. Everyone makes some mistakes the rest just lie about it.

Speedy recovery.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's another reason I'll never buy a Glock. Any gun that requires you to pull the trigger in order to field strip it, is inherently flawed.

5:37 PM  
Blogger al said...

Those are impressive scars. I hope he recovers as quick as possible. It'll remind me to check the chamber at least twice.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Firehand said...

Ref your being mad, I once had a slip with a dirk I was making. I felt the edge bite, looked at my hand, and my first thought was "Dammit, I don't have TIME for this!"

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love wheelguns...

I love wheelguns...

I love wheelguns...

I love wheelguns...

Xavier, seriously, thank you VERY much for sharing this. And please extend my most sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to your courageous friend.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Tam said...

"I love wheelguns..."

Gee, my friend who shot himself in the hand did it with a S&W J-frame.

Don't count on gear to substitute for proper gunhandling.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First it was Glock leg. Now it's Glock arm.

- Les

11:19 AM  
Blogger Daniel Levesque said...

Gruesome. That's one mistake people don't make twice.


2:36 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Glocks hurt. A good friend, and long time officer did HIS left hand with a G-22. Same scenario. Old folks say that if you carry one long enough you'll AD it sooner or later. Mine was a Beretta 92. One of the first before M-9 days, with the European style mag release in the heel of the L grip. Lucky me...I don't put hands in the F.O.F., but I also thought I didn't put one up. Shot the hell out of a nice hardwood floor. Hope the shooter's hand does well. Good for him for sharing that."If I have seen farther it was by standing on the shoulders of giants". Stories like his help the reat of us.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shot my 39' Sony Home Theatre with a Springfield Armory G.I. .45 (Cor-Bon 230gn. HP) in mid-September. I had cleaned it after a trip to the range, and left the it with no magazine and what I thought was an empty pipe. I retrieved it later. It was cocked and locked, so I tossed off the safety, pointed it in a safe direction (toward the floor), and dropped the hammer. Unfortunately the round caught the bottom of the tv tube, blowing a 3" diameter hole through the half inch glass of the tube. I did not hear the shot, bu I did hear the sound of the tube imploding. Blood had not been spilled, so I punched out the loaded magazine, cleared the chamber, and put the .45 in the safe. I went TV shopping the next day. I mustered out of the Brown Water Navy after my three purple hearts in '70, so I've 35 years of carefull use, but somehow it happened to me. It can happen to anyone who is not 100% vigilant.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Aeolus08 said...

For all you people who are saying it's the Glock's fault, stop trying to find excuses for poor gun handling.


11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^ Yea, what he said.

Your brain is your safety. If you think Glock is flawed because you need to pull the trigger, you should probably stick with a super-soaker you asshat.

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in a motel room on a working trip a year or so ago. Had my Glock 34 andd 26 on the bed starting to take them apart for a light cleaning. BTW I had long been a "Condition-1" 1911 guy, that I still think is safest of all, until this recent change.

At one point, I had looked at the 34 and was thinking about the trigger being forward, briefly thought about just squeezing it down. I was sure I had jacked the round out of the chamber when, (as in,-before-), I took the magazine out, but apparently had done that with the mag still in!

Thanks to USPSA & IDPA, where you get in the habit of "show empty, slide forward, hammer down", I was AMAZED when a live one popped out.

I suspect that even the rude ones who ridicule, will one day have a close call or ND.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aeolus08: it certainly was the shooter's mistake. It's just that the Glock disassembly procedure isn't very forgiving of that mistake. I don't see any problem with being critical of that part of the Glock design, or reminding people that it exists.

- Les

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why you refrain from doing anything that you must be forgiven for, ESPECIALLY by a dangerous tool. If I slice my hand while taking a blade off of a knife, was that my fault because I wasn't careful? Or was it a "design flaw" because the knife was too sharp?
The Glock in this story did what it was supposed to do, which is shoot. The guy didn't want the weapon to fire? Ok, maybe he should've been a tad more careful.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you use and shoot guns long enough, sooner or later you are going to have an accidental discharge. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

If you are lucky, there will be no blood spilled when it happens. This guy wasn't so lucky. Let's all learn from his misfortune and dispense with the holier than thou slams.

There is nothing wrong with the Glock design in that it requires the trigger to be unset and the striker mechanism to be untensioned for disassembly. This prevents disassembly of the pistol with a round in the chamber, which is a sound concept. It just happens that the only way to achieve this state is by pulling the trigger. Just be 100% certain you are pulling the trigger on an empty chamber when you do.

Guns are machines and are very unforgiving of improper handling. Let's all keep that in mind. Know your weapon and know the condition (loaded or unloaded) it is in at ALL TIMES.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only had one real ND and it nearly left my parent's wondering why I would have killed myself. At the very last second I diverted the muzzle and heard the most deafening roar of the 230 gr FMJ blowing right past my face instead of a "click".
Round buried in the ceiling, powder and metal shards left interesting scratches across the face I had to explain away. God must have had more for me to do. I have purchased many more guns and shot many more times since then, but that indelible image forces me to become almost obssesive compulsive in checking chambers.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine did the same thing showing off one of the "safeties" on his new Colt Combat Commander. You know, the one where you push on the slide and it disengages the locking lug on the barrel making it impossible for the round to fire?

Well, he did something "wrong" (besides not checking the chamber) and put a round right through his palm.

Gun designs are not a substitute for common sense and good gun handling/manipulation skills, and THAT includes revolvers........Develop your mind and skills......not a better false sense of security.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous... why were you pointing a gun at your head and (most importantly) pulling the trigger, to begin with? That usually is considered suicidal behavior....


4:54 AM  
Blogger John said...

A year of two ago I unpacked an M1917 Colt .45 and cocked it to show my daughter it's large size and strength. I stopped myself for Lord Knows Why and proceeded to find a loaded moon clip on the wheel. Whoops. Thanks, Lord.
Two Chicago Cops showed me how to be more careful. A friend, who was a CPD FI, gave me a shooting hint at a skeet station, then proceeded to pull the trigger on the Model 1100 which knocked off the ball cap on a very large man in our party. My friend was 6'5 and this guy was bigger!
My neighbor, another CPD cop, came home, emptied his wheelgun, then pulled his .45 backup (it's an old story) dropped the clip and pulled the trigger along with the slide and put a shot thru the floor to the apt. below. He was really relieved when my wife told him to stop banging on their backdoor because they were gone on vacation. He thought he'd shot them stacked on their bed, and got them both. And that was the landlord's daughter.
Always check twice. Don't be stupid once.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that so many people apparently believe that putting important body parts in front of the muzzle is somehow part of the intended disassembly procedure for a Glock -- and that anyone owning a Glock who avoids putting a hole in his own body has truly been lucky to manage this difficult accomplishment.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Oct 14 my son a 24 yr old reserve office with the local sherrif dept. shot his left hand with his duty weapon a Glock 40(size is next up from a Glock 22 I believe...I am not gun friendly hate them but I beleive in the Right to Bear Arms) He is a Veteran of the US Navy from the USS Anzio out of Norfolk. While in the Navy he was a Gunners Mate. He was incharge of all the guns and amo on the ship. His Naval training is one of the reasons I allowed him to bring a gun into my home. And one cool evening in October he scared the living sh out of myself and his Dad. He had finished work at the local court house (security) and then went with a fellow officer and his Dad to the range to practice for a qualification the next day. After spending approx 200 rounds through his gun they came home. This is where fatigue and complacency comes in. He dropped the mag and was attempting to discharg the final round that is in the chamber (or whatever it is called) He was cursing at it because the slide wouldn't go back far enough to eject the round. I looked toward him to see what his problem was...saw him change position of his left hand...lift his elbow to a straight line with eachother and saw his shoulders flex as he was using more strength to move the slid...Thank God I looked away, for while I was turning my head the gun went off. Through his left palm out the side and into a cell phone on the counter (wich are great bullet stoppers by the way) His first words were F@#^ I shot my F@#^ing Hand. He proceeded for the next few minutes to curse himself for being so stupid. Yes People, guns can hurt you, but it takes a person to make it go off. Experts say there must have been a piece of debris in the way and it tripped the fireing pin...causing the gun to go off when the bullet was out of battery. (gun people will know what that means, to me a battery is a source of electricty) He only lost soft tissue,nerve to the pinky and part of the wrist bone. His hand will be a constant reminder of why the end with the hole in it should never touch or be pointed at something you don't want to waste. As a mother I am having a hard time dealing with the sound and the blood that comes with a gunshot injury. For him he is having trouble dealing with his mistake. The Navy taught him better and he is afraid of the gun now. Hopefully he will be good enough to go back to the police dept soon. With a new Glock of course. Know anyone who wants to purchase a slightly used Glock? contact mawright1@charter.net in Michigan

7:42 AM  
Blogger Retired Geezer said...

Excellent post.

I linked it.


9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for having the courage to post that. I linked the story on my blog, www.progunprogressive.com. Accidents can happen to anyone, and if there's a silver lining here it's that other people, me included, will be extra extra careful going forward.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't judge a person who makes a mistake and can use it to educate others. People do things that they later can't imagine doing.

Anyway, the Glock is perfectly safe to strip. After checking it's empty you are supposed to point it somewhere safe and pull the trigger. You are then supposed to wrap your hand around the top of the slide with your thumb across the backstrap resulting in the gun pointing away from you. You then pull the slide back a little and pull the lock down with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand and then allow the slide to move forward past the lock.

Is this worse than having to drop the hammer on an inadvertantly cocked revolver so that it can be unloaded or returned to its holster?

And one final thing, I understand QuikClot has performed very well in the little middle-eastern unpleasantness that the military is involved with, living 8 miles from Treasure Island that's something I should add to my disaster pack.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speedy recovery my friend.

I too, had a near-miss negligent discharge with a Ruger P89.

I have also been around guns all my life, and the only reason my best friend is not dead is because I know to never point a weapon, loaded or not, at anything I don't intend to kill. My father taught me that cardinal rule over and over again.

People can talk all they want... the saying goes if you haven't had a negligent discharge, it just hasn't happened YET.

Mine happened many years ago, and the details are similar. Friend and I were about to goto the range. I checked the breech.. no round. Set gun down. Was looking in my range bad and apparently my friend had checked my gun also, and inadvertently racked a round.

Like a moron I didnt re-check the breech and dry-snapped the firearm at the wall. The report put me into a momentary state of shock. My fiend collapsed to the floor like a dead weight. I will never be able to describe that sudden feeling of sheer terror.

The bullet passed my buddies left ear by a foot or so and lodged into a poster I had aimed at on the wall, which luckily was brick. He collapsed because he thought he'd been shot and was in a state of shock himself.

He was unharmed, thank GOD! But I was responsible for a near miss because I failed to follow the simplest of rules: re check the breech twice and then again if you plan to dry fire a weapon.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The bullet passed my buddies left ear by a foot or so"

"I have also been around guns all my life, and the only reason my best friend is not dead is because I know to never point a weapon, loaded or not, at anything I don't intend to kill."

You obviously missed the idea of safe direction as a "foot or so" is NOT in a safe direction

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are people still reading this?

That's MY hand in the pics...yes, I shot myself. I have recovered 85% of function in my hand. That's as good as it's gonna get. Check the chamber, and then check it again.

Stupid hurts.


3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My xd 9mm is the same way. I shot a hole through my bed, box spring, a dresser at the foot of the bed, and through a pair of my wife's jeans in 2 places. I ALWAYS check the chamber too...err except this time for some strange reason. Don't feel too bad, almost everyone with these style guns have or will I'm certain.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought on the quick clot. The army has stoped using it as it does not work as well as they say for the CPL Smith wound. The Army has started to use hemcon the problem with it for home use it cost but it is so much better.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. First off I'd like to adress the supersoaker joker who posted a little while back. I havent heard anyone blaming the glock for the accident you "asshat"! Glocks (in my opinion) are crap. Sure, if you drop a good amount of money, you'll get a good functional gun. Otherwise, you have to buy mods. I do believe the glock is partially responsible, but the most blame lies with the user. Honestly, i think the military shouldn't have done what they did to colt. If they were still producing guns in the numbers they were before, officers may have a more reliable gun (as far as the glock-leg accident goes). Go with a Colt, a Sig, or a S&W.

If you have any arguments with my opinions, go out and look at a $500 glock, then compare it to a beretta or a sig around the same age. If i can look at the side of the gun and see the spring through the slider (on top of that, the bitch jiggled in a very unnerving way), i know which brand is inferior. As far as i'm concerned, the glock is the 3-wheeler of guns. The expensive ones are good and fun, but for a person with a limited income, DONT BUY A CHEAP GLOCK. Other than that, never skip on pulling back the slide after removing the clip and checking the barrel before you strip it. BTW, a sensetive trigger will result in some serious problems even for the experienced shooter. Sorry if i've made an ass of myself, i have only been using handguns 9 years (since i was 8) and i do not claim to be an expert on guns in any way, shape or form.

And my regards to the person who was injured, i hope your shooting isn't effected by this accident.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as checking the chamber too many times....By the way, GLOCK pistols aren't the only ones that require that you pull the trigger in order to field strip it. So instead of blaming the "flawed" design of the most reliable pistol this planet has ever seen, you should handle any type of firearm with the utmost care and respect.

2:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

What's the old saying "there by the grace of God go I"... wow... I remember seeing this picture in a gun shop last year and the owner of the shop said that this was one of the reasons that he did not sell guns where you had to pull the trigger to field strip them. I had heard about these things before, but seeing the picture was worth a 1000 words. Yes, those manufactures make excellent guns, but wow....

2:07 PM  

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