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PLR 24-053 - Privately Owned Weapons Mishap Claims One Soldier's Life

A 24-year-old First Lieutenant assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, died in a privately owned weapons (POW) mishap in El Paso, Texas, at local. The Soldier was drinking at a friend’s house when he accidentally shot himself in the right cheek with his friend’s pistol. He was transported to the local hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival.

Since FY19, the Army has lost an average of three Soldiers a year to POW mishaps. This tragedy was the first POW fatality of FY24.

Safety tip

  1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
    This is the most important of all the safety rules. By treating all weapons as though they were loaded, mishaps can be avoided. “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” is the poorest excuse for carelessness.
  2. Don’t trust the safety mechanisms.
    Although these devices are designed to mechanically prevent a weapon from firing, they are mechanical and subject to wear. Always keep the safety “ON” when not shooting, but remember it is not a 100 percent guarantee against the weapon firing.
  3. Always make sure a weapon is cleared before handling or cleaning.
    Because it is impossible to determine whether a weapon is loaded just by looking at it, never assume or take another’s word that it is empty - MAKE SURE! It only takes a second to check, and the time spent may save a life. Whenever you pick up a firearm, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and if the weapon has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s), which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the firearm alone and get help from someone who does.
  4. Unload weapons when not in use.
    Unloaded weapons cannot discharge even if they fall into unfamiliar hands.
  5. Always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction.
    A safe direction means that the firearm is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. When this practice is conscientiously followed, injuries, damage, or even death may be avoided should you accidentally discharge the weapon.
  6. Point weapons only at targets you intend to shoot.
    Never point a gun at yourself or another person. Insist that others abide by this rule.
  7. Avoid horseplay.
    Firearms are deadly and must be treated with the respect they deserve. They are not toys and should not be treated as if they were.
  8. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    When holding a firearm, rest your finger on the trigger guard until you are actually ready to fire.
  9. Be sure the firearm is safe to operate.
    Just like other tools, firearms need regular maintenance to remain operable. If there is any question concerning a firearm's ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
  10. Know how to use the firearm safely.
    Before handling a firearm, learn how it operates. Get training and read the owner’s manual. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action, and remove any ammunition from the firearm or magazine. Remember, a firearm’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe weapons handling.

The USACRC website contains numerous resources to address privately owned weapons safety:

Off-Duty Safety Awareness Presentation: https://safety.army.mil/odsap

Safety Shorts: https://safety.army.mil/MEDIA/Safety-Shorts/Off-Duty/emodule/9365/eitem/14320

Alcohol and Weapons Don’t Mix poster: https://safety.army.mil/API/Evotiva-UserFiles/FileActionsServices/DownloadFile?ItemId=92317&ModuleId=9270&TabId=1236

For more information: https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/Privately-Owned-Weapons



  • 13 May 2024
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 118
  • Comments: 0