Mike’s Notes – As many long time readers know, I own and operate Chet’s Firearms, a federally licensed firearms manufacturer and dealer. I am also the designated armorer for VT.

Shameless Self Promotion – Though I have not advertised in VT lately, I have a large quantity of custom handmade AR platform rifles and pistols in stock in several calibers for immediate delivery. They make great stocking stuffers and prices have never been lower. Call me at 517-548-9558 to ask any questions or to place an order. Ask for Mike. You can also ask questions by email at: [email protected]  

Note that I am the sole owner of Chet’s Firearms and VT is not legally affiliated with its operation, though I often get design ideas from Gordon.

Even before owning this business, I knew basic firearms safety procedures.

Rule number 1: Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

Rule number 2: Check and recheck if it is loaded prior to handling it.

One would think that trained police officers should know at least those basic safety rules though apparently not. On a semi-regular basis you hear of a person being shot by an “unloaded” gun.

A friend of mine is the manager of a large retail sporting goods store and store policy is that when a customer brings in a gun to trade in, sell, or have serviced, the owner is stopped just inside the door of the store and the muzzle end of the gun is placed in a bullet proof chamber and trap just in case it were to go off.

It is then checked to make sure that it is not loaded and a trigger lock is placed on it before it can be carried through the store. This is simply good safety and good business practices. He has told me that quite often their clerk is told that the gun is not loaded only to find out that it really is.

As a dealer, I have had a few incidents that could have proven deadly if not handled properly.  Definitely the most scary incident was when a person shipped me a .308 rifle that was loaded. The safety was off and it was cocked.

A simple pull of the trigger would have fired it. It was in a cloth gun case which could have caught the trigger when I was pulling it out of the box but fortunately that did not happen. As always, I did a basic safety check where I open the action and look inside to be sure that it is clear and I heard a clunk on the floor.

I looked down and saw a live .308 round lying there. It had been shipped across the country in this condition and could have gone off at any time had it shifted in the box in a way that pulled the trigger possibly killing or injuring a postal worker.

*

By Meagan Flynn – Washington Post
November 21, 2019 at 6:58 a.m. EST

A freak incident has left the South African legal community in shock after a prominent prosecutor was accidentally shot to death Monday in the middle of a trial — with a gun that was central to the case, authorities said.

The attorney, Addelaid Ferreira-Watt, was prosecuting a home robbery when a loaded shotgun was brought into the courtroom to be entered as evidence.

Somehow, as a police officer “was trying to pick up or handle the firearm,” it went off and struck Ferreira-Watt in the left hip, a spokesman for South Africa’s police watchdog agency, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, told The Washington Post.

Ferreira-Watt, 51, was transferred to the hospital but did not survive. Now, the IPID is investigating the case as a culpable homicide, spokesman Sontaga Seisa said.

“We are basically going to be focusing on whether the policeman’s finger was on the trigger, or whether the gun went off accidentally somehow,” Seisa said.

Ferreira-Watt’s colleagues and loved ones were flabbergasted as to how a loaded gun was possibly allowed to be brought into the court as evidence.

Brigadier Jay Naicker, a spokesman for the South African Police Service in KwaZulu-Natal province, told local news radio station 702 that the suspects stole the shotgun from a couple during a 2014 farmhouse robbery in the town of Ixopo, in the KwaZulu-Natal province. When police caught the five suspects, Naicker said a judge allowed police to return the shotgun to the couple because they said they needed it for protection.

The couple, Cheryl and Dave Biggs, said police officers came by to pick up the gun for the trial on Monday, South African newspaper the Witness reported.

When Cheryl Biggs found out the gun went off during court, she was “extremely distraught,” she told the newspaper. Police had even asked her if the gun was loaded or not — but she told them she didn’t know for sure.

Read entire story here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/11/21/south-africa-gun-court-addelaid-ferreira-watt-killed/


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Author Details
Michael Chester is retired from his career in industrial technology. After graduating from college, he taught this subject until deciding that he preferred doing the job himself more than teaching it. At various times during his career, he has designed, built, installed, and repaired industrial manufacturing machinery. His specialty was in electrical and electronics controls.

After retiring, he concentrated more on his hobby of cooking and attended one of the top culinary schools in the US. Mike competed in bass fishing tournaments for several years, but had to leave the sport due to an injury. As a certified barbecue judge he gets to taste some of the best BBQ in the country and help select the winner. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it. He lives with his wife of over 30 years, has 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren.

8 COMMENTS

  1. When my Grandfather on my Dad’s side died in Minnesota in 1937, he left him two rifles: A 22 single shot and a 10 gauge double barrel shot gun which had been used for duck hunting. My brother and sisters and I had friends at our home all the time and Dad did not what to have it on his conscience any horrible gun accident. So he kept both guns disarmed so they could not be fired and no ammo around where kids could use it. These weapons were not necessary for self defense in those days anyway. About 70 years ago when I was about 10 years old, Dad took me to the local rifle range at Eaton Canyon, which had been a military shooting range during WWII. There he taught me the rules of guns partly listed in the article. He used the 22 caliber rifle for this purpose. I learned the difference between a long and a short and that if you wanted to hit the bull’s eye you better buy longs. The local hardware store would sell any ammo to a kid then no questions asked. Another rule is never point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. What good is a gun for self defense if it is not locked, loaded and ready to shoot? But on the negative side a gun in this condition must not be accessible to a young kid who might have a terrible accident and kill themselves or others. Always remember this when you have a loaded gun on a nightstand for example. My Dad was not against guns. But he was a highly intelligent Father with a conscience.

    • When I was in the 6th grade at Sierra Madre Elementary School, I carried the 10 gauge double barrel shot gun about 10 blocks to school one day. It was longer than I was tall and quite heavy. No police officer stopped me or paid any attention at all about 1949. Everybody loved that rifle. They handled it, pulled the triggers. Even the teachers loved that rifle. Later one day my Uncle, Dad’s older brother Fred visited us. “Can I borrow that rifle? You know the rest of the story. I never saw that fabulous and rare rifle from my Grandfather in Minnesota again! My Dad was 10 years younger than Fred.

    • I have considered that dilemma and I usually recommend a loaded handgun stored in a biometric single gun safe. Biometric safes are not perfect but I think they offer the best mix of availability if needed and safety from unauthorized access. For the record, I don’t sell them so I have no financial interest in promoting them.
      The two rules I mentioned were in no way intended to be a complete list of safety rules, just ones that would have prevented this unfortunate death.
      I was in high school in the 1960s and even then a student brought a rifle to school as a prop for a demonstration speech he was giving in class. Not like now when an elementary school student who makes a “finger gun” with his hand is charged with a formal crime, not just a school violation.

    • I took a closet and put a dead bolt on the door and placed a gun safe inside as I had an inquizative young son. Each weapon had a trigger lock and all keys were locked in a safe. For home protection I had a bad attitude.

    • As we say: once a year even a wooden stick shoots. Safety has long been written in blood. Take care of yourself!
      In my childhood, I stole a hunting cartridge from my grandfather (my grandfather was a great regional boss in the USSR trade system). He had a gift gun. Double-barrel, horizontal. True, he never went hunting in his life and a gun hung on the wall. I was 10 years old. I took this plastic cartridge, opened it and burnt gunpowder, for curiosity. Then i decided to hit the capsule (I was a hooligan in childhood) and see what happens. As a result, it banged so loud that the ringing in my ears stood for about an hour. It’s good that i was safe. But I didn’t approach weapons and ammunition anymore 🙂