If you are at all familiar with guns and with firearms safety then you know that the best way to avoid accidental discharges is to keep your finger off the trigger, treat each gun as it were loaded each time you pick it up or handle it, keep firearms pointed in a safe direction and on and on. That way you don't actually shoot someone because you made an avoidable mistake. Then again there are accidental discharges of another sort when it comes to firearms; ones that can come to pretty dismal conclusions and yet are not caused by any violation of the regular firearm's safety rules. I won't go into them all here but will tell you about one type of accidental discharge of which I was a victim earlier today - or maybe I should say that one of my rifles and a gun case were the victims.
In our home we have four dogs. Dogs and guns have always seemed to go together from police and military canine units to Labrador Retrievers and Pointers afield with hunters. My dogs, well they have no particular use for guns, it is not like I take our 2 Chihuahuas hunting nor the 2 mutts for that matter either. I don't think I have ever had one of the dogs around while shooting though they sometimes come to visit me in the basement when I am cleaning them. They give an almost disinterested sniff now and again but that is it. Since they exhibit no love or overwhelming curiosity for them (at least none that I knew of until today) I was never all that concerned about leaving a rifle propped up against a wall or one laying on the floor in an open gun case. Heck none of them are loaded when I leave them around like that so it was not like one of the pooches was about to knock one of the guns over then step into the trigger guard and onto the trigger and shoot anything - like my butt - right? Just say "right" because I can tell you now that isn't what happened.
Today, just before I was leaving for work, I decided to put away a sort of prize rifle that I had out. It was laying there just as described above, in an open gun case , the case laying on the floor. I bent over to grab it without giving it much more than a glance and as soon as my hand was around the barrel just in front of the breech I realized it was wet. I took a look and saw what looked like beads of condensation on the metal. "Whoops", I thought, "I should not have left it out so close to the floor with it having been so humid the past couple of days". I was just straightening up, thinking I would give it a quick wipe off and a dab of oil when my eye was caught by a discoloration on the gray foam liner of the gun case. It was a spot about 2 or 3 inches in diameter and it would have been directly under the part of the barrel that was wet. Then I noticed 2 other such spots. They were kind of amber colored. I knew what it was and you probably know too by now. "Yech" was my next thought, that along with some rather expletive comments that flashed through my mind and somehow also managed to escape my lips.
One of our little darlings, one of the Chihuahuas, decided to relieve itself right there in my gun case and right atop my precious Remington 513-T Matchmaster, not once but three times. My grip was shifted immediately so I was no longer holding the wet part of the gun, you can bet on that and win for sure. Yes, these little demons are housebroken - more or less. The thing is when they are let outside to go, the female needs to be watched until she goes, she sometimes even need be encouraged to go with the word "make" and pushed back out into the yard when she tries to head across the patio to the door. When she finally gets the idea..., well even then she takes her time about it. The male is pretty good, he almost never has an accident but he will sometimes mark his territory inside - something he does with much less frequency than when young (having his masculinity removed did little to curb this behavior either). I figure the female was the culprit because of 3 little circular stains/wet spots. When the male goes he leaves a wet spot and a trailing end to it sort of like a comet - if you don't know what mean you don't know squat about dog anatomy or that adult male dogs (for the most part) don't squat!
I took the rifle in the back room, loosened the single screw that holds the barrel/receiver assembly to the stock and took it apart. Then I wiped it dry and then oiled it down with Breakfree CLP (great stuff because when I came home tonight and gave it an inspection there was not a speck of rust on the metal). After cleaning off the rifle, I just closed the gun case. I cleaned the foam liner tonight in hot sudsy water in my basement sink, now it is hanging to dry. Lucky for me, the foam which got wet was not either the actual liner of the top or bottom of the case but a third piece, a sort of filler piece, that came inside the case and that I never removed. It was still soaked tonight in the same spots but that liner must have super silica in it because it retained the wetness not letting it seep though to the lower layer (which is actually glued to the bottom of the box and would had to have been torn out to clean). That was really a spot or three of luck for me! Now, that middle piece of foam is hanging to dry. Once dry, I will let the dogs have a go at it to see how interested they are in sniffing it. I figure that if they pretty much ignore it then that means I got it cleaned up well enough.
Now the reason this probably happened is because the female, as I said, is sometimes reluctant to go outside and needs prompting. Why - because she is scared of everything. Not terribly so but enough to distract her while she is out and supposed to be doing her thing. So she needs coaching. She does not always get it if just left out for a few minutes and I guess that is our fault. They are my wife's babies, and sometimes i act as if they are not also my dogs so I don't have much to do with em except petting and letting em out back and feeding them now and then. My wife and daughter walk them 99.9% of the time and also let them out back more than I do. just not long enough though. The female Chihuahua needs more time out there and more watching over to make sure the mission is accomplished. Otherwise, accidents happen - accidental discharges at that - and just imagine the damage that could have been done had my rifle barrel sat in that wet spot for the remainder of the day, maybe even more than a day. You can bet the barrel would have been pitted in a short time because it had been pissed on and you can also bet I would have been pissed off.
Something like this could have some miserable results but yet it is easily avoidable. I suppose first and foremost, it is avoidable by making sure the doggies get enough time outside. Secondly, it can be avoided by making sure not to leave any guns around that could wind up in the line of fire of one of those accidental discharges of a different nature. I am taking aim on making sure it does not happen again.
All the best,
Gunblog Variety Cast Ep 140
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