Topic: Accidental discharges
Member # 107
posted 11 August 2021 13:51
Is there anybody else out there who thinks we have too many accidental discharges? I know it's been discussed, before, but I think these two articles "press home the point". The first is from "The Age" (Australia), the second from "The Jerusalem Post" (Israel).
Dileas Gu Brath,
M.A. Bossi, Esquire
Army inquiring into gun death
Thursday 10 August 2021
An army inquiry will investigate why a rifle lying in the back of an armored vehicle accidentally discharged, killing an Australian peacekeeper in East Timor.
Corporal Stuart Jones, 27, was fatally wounded yesterday when the vehicle hit a bump, apparently dislodging what was believed to have been a Steyr rifle, Australia's East Timor commander Colonel Greg Baker said today.
A board of inquiry will investigate the death of the corporal, a member of the Darwin-based 2 Cavalry Regiment which has only been in East Timor since July 25.
Wounded in the chest, Corporal Jones died in a Black Hawk helicopter taking him to hospital in Dili.
Colonel Baker said Corporal Jones was commander of a six-member squad heading back to base in one of the army's eight-wheeled ASLAV light armored vehicles after a patrol near Maliana, close to the border with West Timor.
"They placed their packs and weapons in the vehicle and they then proceeded back to base," he said.
"The vehicle went over a particular part of the terrain and jolted to one side.
"We think that what happened is that one of the weapons dislodged from sitting on packs at the back and discharged accidentally, wounding Corporal Jones. "We believe no one was touching it at the time."
Colonel Baker said the Steyr had a safety mechanism which should have prevented something like that happening.
He said it was not known if the safety catch was engaged at the time, whether it was Corporal Jones' own rifle or whether he was wearing body armor.
"There will be a board of inquiry convened shortly which will look at the circumstance surrounding the incident, the procedures used and all other details and then make recommendations to ensure this doesn't happen again," he said.
"The weapon will be identified as part of the investigation and obviously examined to see if there was any fault."
The Austrian-designed Steyr rifle, introduced to Australian service in the early 1990s, has achieved notoriety for the number of accidental discharges.
There were so many in Somalia that new handling procedures were introduced which defence sources say significantly reduced the problem.
Defence maintains the Steyr is not at fault and that unauthorised discharges stem from failure to follow proper safety procedures. Offenders are fined or even charged.
Defence Minister John Moore confirmed a board of inquiry had been convened to investigate the circumstances of the tragedy.
"The government is very concerned about any injuries or loss of life in the defence force and will be fully briefed on this incident," he said in a statement.
The inquiry is expected to be conducted in public with findings and conclusions made public.
Corporal Jones is the second Australian soldier to die in East Timor, following the death of a soldier from pneumonia.
It is the second time an Australian soldier has been killed by an accidental weapon discharge in recent peacekeeping activities.
Lance Corporal Shannon McAliney died in Somalia on April 2, 1993, when a Steyr rifle held by a colleague accidentally fired as they set out on patrol.
He was Australia's only casualty of the Somalia deployment.
Australian troops have been on a heightened state of alert and are actively patrolling the border area since militiamen shot dead a New Zealand soldier late last month.
IDF rejects device which prevents rifles discharging accidentally
By Arieh O'Sullivan
TEL AVIV (August 11) - The IDF has been offered a device which would probably prevent an accidentally discharged bullet from hitting innocent bystanders, but has rejected it because it wants its soldiers' firearms to be constantly at the ready.
But the inventors of the "Shotguard" say that the IDF really is stalling because it does not like the image it transmits of soldiers who are not in control of their weapons.
"The IDF has a mental problem about this device because it doesn't suit its macho image to have extra safety device," said David Ramati, of Mofet Etzion, manufacturers of the Shotguard.
The 10 cm.-long Shotguard weighs just 300 grams and fits over any rifle's flash suppressor. The bullet hits a disk on a spring and disintegrates. The device only blocks the first bullet. All other shots fired will exit normally, which makes it excellent for preventing accidental discharges, said Emanuel Dryfus, marketing manager for the Shotguard. They cost about $40 each.
The makers said the Shotguard is in service with forces in Holland, Singapore, and Australia. The US Marine Corps has just tested it.
"This thing is fairly inexpensive. It's not for the commando units or those with a lot of weapons experience, but it certainly can be put on the weapons of soldiers in basic training," said Ramati.
According to Michael Cohen, the inventor of the Shotguard, his device could have prevented tragedies like the one last weekend when a soldier cleaning his gun accidentally shot dead his aunt, a mother of four. "Whenever there is a report of a person who was shot by mistake, we think it was a pity that this device is not in use," he said.
There are no statistics on the number of people injured by soldiers accidentally misfiring their weapons. Last year, two soldiers were killed by accidental discharges. Two were also killed in 1998.
Dryfus said that the IDF has actually tested the Shotguard. He said it has agreed in principle to purchase a few thousand, but it says it doesn't have the money.
The Israel Police and the Border Police have purchased a small number of the Shotguards.
"We believe that the IDF is not rejecting it for budgetary reasons, but mainly because it doesn't want the rifle of a combatant to be blocked by something that will prevent him from shooting the first bullet," said Cohen.
The IDF Spokesman denied the army had ever considered purchasing a device which fully blocks the barrels of its firearms. "There does not exist such a barrel block. There are a number of barrel blocks which have been developed and are suitable for use in training, which prevent the firing of live bullets during training with blanks. This device is part of the IDF's procurement plans for next year," an IDF statement said.
"Even if there was a full barrel guard, the IDF would not use it due to the need of soldiers to be on full alert all of the time," the IDF Spokesman said.
Posts: 213 | From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000
Member # 63
posted 11 August 2021 18:19
There are two sides to the coin when discussing ADs - the attitudes of the soldiers carrying the weapons, and the reliablity of the weapons themselves.
As to the former:
An incident occured in the last year concerning an ex-soldier, and the story has been making the rounds. I believe I have the essence of the story correct here; I am leaving out the details to protect the person's identity.
He had been a reservist whose attitude left a lot to be desired; a smarmy, cock-sure type who you could never tell a thing to because he knew it all. He was also lucky; married a woman in law enforcement and managed to find himself a good job in the prison system.
It turned out that he was at an institution transferring a prisoner and upon surrendering his weapon at the gate, he removed the magazine and was asked by the person on duty "aren't you going to do an individual safety precaution?"
The question of how the individual acheived the next feat is still unclear to me, and quite frankly defies belief - but ultimate stupidity is often hard for the rest of us to grasp...Anyway, said individual simply replied with his trademark attitude "Don't worry, you can't fire it without the magazine" and promptly discharged the weapon.
The bullet was reported to have imbedded itself in the bulletproof glass (answering years old curiousity as to the window's resistance) and worse, removed part of said individual's hand and deposited it on the walls.
Luckily no one was killed.
Is that considered an "accidental discharge"? Having known the individual in question, I can picture him putting his hand in front of the muzzle and pulling the trigger. Some people are THAT sure of themselves.
I hope that individuals like that find themselves released from the service, or at least put where they can do no one physical harm.
Unfortunately, familiarity can breed more than contempt. A bad soldier looks at his weapon as simply a tool to be treated in the same manner as his shovel or utility knife; I can't imagine why a loaded weapon was left to merely sit on a pile of packs in the back of a vehicle. I'd like to think Canadian troops take weapon safety much more seriously than that.
My father knew a man from his hometown who served with 3 PPCLI in Korea. He was shot (and killed) five times by another Canadian. He claimed to have been "cleaning" his Bren Gun. I'd like to read the official investigation of that one, and if it too was labelled "accidental." First thing anyone does is to unload a weapon if they're going to clean it.
I'll leave the discussion of the reliability of our weapons to those who have made a living out of using them...
Posts: 130 | From: Calgary, Alberta | Registered: Aug 2000
Member # 3
posted 11 August 2021 20:04
It is easy to call into question the competence of someone who has an AD but in reality the more time you spend around loaded weapons the better chance you have of having an accident with them. ADs or NDs are inevitable. Some of the best trained and competent soldiers have had them. People get tired, lazy, and cocky, have bad days, etc ...it's just human nature and the law of averages. The longer you go without having or experiencing an accident the cockier you get, also the less time you spend using live ammunition the less seriously you take it. The key is to hammer home the practice of safe weapons handling at the beginning. IE never point a weapon at someone unless you intend to shoot them that way if or when you do have an accident hopefully you won't hurt anybody. Anyone who has been on operations will tell you the incidence of NDs is higher on operations than on exercises simply because of the constant exposure to loaded weapons. While this seems to contradict what I previously said the actual number of rounds fired on a typical operation is very low, this, combined with hours and days of mind numbing boredom and a requirement to clear your weapon everytime the wind changes direction will lead inevitably to NDs.
As to the Korean question, did he mean to kill the other guy? If not then it was accidental. Negligence is a different story.
As to the reliability of weapons, different weapons have different characteristics. I have never had any safety related problem with the C-7 or C-6. The C-9 on the other hand has a problem in that sometimes, through no fault of the firer,you can find live rounds in the body of the weapon. I was on a bus when the guy sitting two seats behind me found a live round beside the return spring on his gun while stripping it for cleaning. After repeated safety precautions and clearances had been made. Kind of unsettling but that's the nature of the job.
Posts: 30 | From: | Registered: Jun 2000
Member # 63
posted 11 August 2021 22:22
Andybody, thanks for that. I guess that's what I meant to say by "familiarity breeds more than contempt" - to me, you make sense with your remarks regarding casual attitudes creeping in around troops and the handling of their weapons. I'd like to think Canadian soldiers do have discipline and respect for weapons drilled into them from the start.
Re: Korea. Good question. Circumstantially, you would almost have to believe that a soldier who can let off five rounds from a Bren Gun would be doing so deliberately. That's what a lot of people apparently felt after the fact. The Sten was notoriously unreliable, and had it been a Sten that had gone off, it would be a little less suspicious than a Bren.
At the time, who knows what happened....maybe the soldier in question walked onto an impromptu range while the Bren gunner was zeroing his weapon. I have no idea of the circumstances surrounding the shooting; if they were two feet away from each other or 200 yards, if it was daytime or night time; but I think my dad and his friends suspected foul play. I've never seen anything substantial regarding the incident.
Like you say, though, accidents happen - and after a few days or weeks in the line in Korea, fatigue and shock would play their part in lowering the odds against accidents of that nature. I would be interested in learning more about this specific case - the soldier in question is listed on the roll of honour of the PPCLI - do they include accidental and non-battle deaths on the roll?
Posts: 130 | From: Calgary, Alberta | Registered: Aug 2000
Member # 81
posted 12 August 2021 08:45
Having given many, many, chemical safety training sessions I think an statistic from the North American petrochemical industry may be of interest here. With regards to chemical accidents resulting in severe injury or death, a disproportionately high number of incidents occur with those having many years of experience. The idea being that new people are generally too afraid to get themselves into serious trouble (for the most part). When a serious incident occurrs, it is statistically more likely to happen to a senior worker who has become overconfident, complacent, or knew a special shortcut that had always "worked for him". I always find that the attentiveness of those with a few gray hairs usually goes up after that...
There have been some great comments on the issues of AD's above. Especially the one of the round(s) in the C-9 seeming to gravitate to where they shouldn't, even after individual safety precautions...Yikes! The other point that I haven't seen mentioned with respect to the Aussies misfortune was the practice of throwing the weapons on a truck and walking back to base. Didn't we learn in basic, as well as in Rawanda, that weapons belong with the soldiers, not with the baggage???
Posts: 3 | From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Registered: Jul 2000
Member # 46
posted 12 August 2021 11:25
I have been observing this site for a couple of weeks, and have decided to join the fray. WRT AD/NDs it has been my experience that these occur, predominately, as a result of operator error( ie complacency,inattention,lack of skill, etc) as opposed to firearms malfunction. Refresher training and vigourous supervision, at all levels, can correct this. Adding more parts to a gun (spring bullet trap) or more restrictive safety measures( you get to see you weapon only once a year!) are window dressing and not,in my opinion, a viable/realistic solution. A gun IS ONLY a tool! (Would any one throw a running chain saw into a truck and then board the back?) It is only the individual's personal skill/motivation that will improve/ maintain safe use. This MUST be developed/maintained by his superiors.
Posts: 99 | From: CALGARY,AB, CANADA | Registered: Aug 2000