The Media & Gun Mythology

It seems today that the media gets things wrong more than they get them right.  This applies to nearly every type of story, too.  If they’re caught in their “mistakes,” they make a token apology and move on.  Accuracy and truth are no longer tenets of journalism.  Don’t get me started on the abject deterioration of spelling and grammar in the media!

 It just went off!

Choosing a gun-1

Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight (.38-Special)

One topic that the news media consistently gets wrong is anything involving guns.  Guns reportedly “go off.”  No.  They don’t.  They’re inanimate objects.  They no more “go off” than cars “drive themselves off.”  (Yet, there’s another such story you’ll see below.)

Guns have to be fired, just as cars have to be driven… by humans.  But, the media doesn’t like to place the blame where it belongs.  They specifically confer animating qualities to guns making them seemingly autonomous rather than even suggesting that firing a gun requires human manipulation.  Hollywood movies are also responsible for misinformation about how guns work (and don’t work).

I was just cleanin’ my gun.

One persistent and perennial story is the case of a gun owner “cleaning” his / her gun and it “going off.”  Or the gun was dropped and fired upon striking the floor.   And, someone “accidentally” gets shot.  Let me put this as simply as possible:  That’s BULLSHIT.  Absolute bullshit!  Earlier this week, my hygienist brought me this article.  The newspaper story is full of “fail” and full of shit.  (See news article after the jump)


Even the POLICE are complicit in perpetuating the myth!  The police should know better!


Loaded revolver with cylinder closed. Can't be cleaned.

Loaded revolver with cylinder closed. Can’t be cleaned.

Let’s break this bullshit story down. The gun in this news story is a .38-Special.  That means it’s a revolver.  The gun in the photos I’ve provided here is a very popular .38-Special revolver.

1.  You cannot clean a loaded gun.  It’s physically impossible.  The most basic and essential part of cleaning a gun is inside the barrel.  The reason we clean guns is to rid the internals of residue, dirt, lead, etc.  If a gun is loaded, the barrel and chamber(s) are BLOCKED.  The internals are not accessible.

In the case of a loaded revolver, the only part that could be “cleaned” would be the external surface.

Loaded, cylinder open. Can't be cleaned.

Loaded, cylinder open. Can’t be cleaned.

Being loaded, it means the cylinder chambers have cartridges in place, and the cylinder is closed.  So, none of the internal parts of the gun are even available for cleaning.  So, in the traditional sense of cleaning a gun, this guy wasn’t doing that.  It’s simply not possible to clean a loaded revolver.

2.  FACT:  A handgun… even loaded and cocked… will NOT fire by being dropped on the floor or even thrown forcibly against a brick wall.  This has been the case

Unloaded, cylinder open. Now we can clean it!

Unloaded, cylinder open. Now we can clean it!

since the invention of the firing pin block, hammer block, and transfer bar.  All of these safety devices prevent the pin from striking the primer (igniting the cartridge) unless the trigger is pulled.

Drop safeties became standard in revolvers around 1944.  So, unless this guy’s gun was a single-action revolver made before 1944 (unlikely), it has a drop safety of some kind.

3.  Most revolvers are “double-action.”  That means it has a trigger that is rather heavy to pull and has a long “travel” to fire the gun.  In other words, pulling the trigger has to be very much intentional.

And, now for the real story.

So, what REALLY happened?  The dude pulled the trigger on a loaded gun.  BANG!  Period.  “People of the gun” (POTG) call it a “negligent discharge.”  It’s not an “accident.”  It’s negligence.  Most likely, he was “playing” with the gun, put his finger on the trigger, and then pulled it.  Or perhaps he “thought it was unloaded” and wanted to “dry fire” the gun.  That’s still negligence.  The other possibility is that a piece of loose clothing (or other object, maybe including his finger) got in front of the trigger as he was holstering it.  Pushing the gun into the holster with something then pushing on the trigger = BANG!  Or even more likely… he was stuffing the gun into his waistband WITHOUT a holster (trigger is not covered), and it went BANG, shooting himself in the ass.

The bottom line is that the gun did NOT fire by being dropped on the floor.

What did the redneck say right before he died?   “Hey… hold my beer and watch this.”

stupid manUltimately, very few men will admit to being or doing something stupid or especially criminal activity.  This gun-drop-fired story has been around and repeated for so long, that unenlightened people believe it.  I am not the first to point out the fallacy.  But, this myth needs to be exposed at every opportunity.  There have been cases of men “cleaning” their guns and “accidentally” shooting their wives.  Uh-huh…. Yeah… NO.  That’s not how it happened.

Modern guns with modern internal safety devices do not fire when dropped (or “cleaned”).  For a gun to fire, a round must be in the chamber, and the trigger must be pulled.  If you follow the Four Rules of Gun Safety, it will not unexpectedly go “bang,” and nobody gets hurt.

The two loudest sounds a gun owner can hear is a “bang” when he expects a “click” and a “click” when he expects a “bang.”

The only true fact we can glean from the newspaper story seen above is that a man shot himself in the ass.  The rest of the story is pure fiction.  It’s the same for nearly all the “gun went off” stories in the news.  His ass has an extra hole, but I suppose his ego and pride remain intact.  He fooled them all!  They bought his story!

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11 Responses to The Media & Gun Mythology

  1. Michael says:

    What no rant about “ASSAULT RIFLES”. Or how about a “SNIPER RIFLE”. I know I am talking to the choir.

    I at least have educated some liberal friends on what an Assault Rifle is. 1)It’s capable of burst or full auto. For civilians to own it is between 15,000 and 30,000 dollars. Assault Rifles are HIGHLY regulated and freaking expensive.And no the AR in AR15 does not mean Assault Rifle.

    No such thing as a SNIPER rifle. There are long range rifles. SNIPER is the person and the years and years of fieldcraft and training.

    Have a great week Mike. I had my best month ever this month. Large part of my successes is due to your internet book. I am crushing it. I am not on any insurance lists and 80% of my new patients are from the internet. Thanks for everything you go for dentistry.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Haha! Those are entirely different subjects that could take a very long post to discuss. Blogs articles are best left to a single issue and kept fairly brief.

      But, this myth has always bugged me. It’s oft-repeated, and it’s provably 100% false.

      Wow…. thanks for the props on the book! I’ve GOT to get around to finishing the 2nd Edition!!

      • Michael says:

        Yes you do!!! Can’t wait to read Version 2 and keep crushing it on the internet.

        I’ve a little slow but I am working my butt off on the internet. I wrote all the content for my mobile website and submitted it to my webmaster last week. Should be mobile soon.

        I’ve got a 40 round PMAG at my office I need to get sent out to you. A little bribe for you to write a blog article on how you get lower teeth numb! 🙂

  2. Ken says:

    Excellent article Mike. Years and years ago I had a friend who was a policeman who told me that often to save the family from embarrassment they’d say “so and so was cleaning his gun and it accidentally went off” when in fact it was a suicide and that’s the story that would go out. Everyone knew it hadn’t but it was the “polite” thing to say to be respectful, I guess? Now of course this “story” of guns just magically going off almost by themselves is clearly a political tactic of the left.

  3. Sherm House says:

    Well said, Dr. Mike!

  4. Fred Joyal says:

    Thanks for clearing this up, Mike. I’ve always wondered about the “cleaning” explanation. Somehow, even with an automatic pistol with one in the chamber you’d still have to pull the trigger (fairly early in the cleaning process, as the gun would have to be still assembled). Dropping it is not going to make it fire. So in this case, the guy was shoving the gun in the back of his waistband and popped himself, either hooking the trigger on his pants or pulling the trigger accidentally. Either way, Darwin at work.

    I’m surprised we’re not at the point where guns–and bullets–have to be labeled to tell you that you may be injured or killed using them. You know, the “This coffee is hot” solution. Just kidding, by the way.

    For the record, most of us on the left do not want gun banishment, just some reasonable gun registration and control. I’m a gun owner myself. I just don’t want crazy people to get them that easily.

    And now, thanks to your blog, I’m not afraid to clean my guns anymore 😉

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      LOL at your last comment, Fred!

      Disclaimer seen on Superman costume: “Cape does not enable user to fly.”

      I’ll leave my thoughts about “registration” to another time. 😉

      PS… I’ve tried to comment on your blog a few times in recent months, but they never show up. I thought maybe I got banned. 😮

  5. Barnslayer says:

    I remember the local (I’m on Long Island NY) news article about a man and wife, both police officers. The story goes both were sitting at the table cleaning their pistols. Bang! The husband is shot… dead. No charges were made. Sounds to me like somebody decided to money on a divorce lawyer.
    Besides being dangerous, I’ve always wondered…. how the hell does some news reporter think someone could clean a firearm without noticing it’s loaded?

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Yep… this myth is perpetuated. They’re COPS, afterall… They’re “gun experts” (not necessarily). And, if COPS can’t handle firearms safely, then neither can / should mere mortal citizens. There is an agenda afoot, ya think?

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