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Safety standards in the old days


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My bedtime reading at the moment is The young shot by N M Sedgwick, published 1940.

I’ve just finished the chapter about gun safety. Most of it is very familiar, but some of the anecdotes! A close friend killed when being passed a loaded gun from a car, another acquaintance who shot someone while ferreting, a loaded gun left propped against a wall in a pub which was picked up and fired by accident, a paragraph about witnessing several dogs shot and others of the sort. He also said that if the ground was easy, he saw nothing wrong with carrying a gun with the safety off. There’s a photograph of a clay pigeon stand with a closed gun laid down in the grass.

Most of us have the odd story of a safety issue, but nothing like this. What was it? Men who had served in the Great War who were a bit blasé about carrying guns? Macho culture? My father (born 1921) always slipped the safety off when walking because he thought it a fiddle to take off. I put that down to being brought up on hammer guns.

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Here we go again.....but like I’ve always said: the most dangerous person with a gun is the one whom relies on his safety in order to be safe. 
Do away with safeties and people would perhaps give more thought to where their fingers were and where their barrels were pointed. 

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Worst I have seen in many years of picking up was the gun who rather than put the gun in the slip tucked it under his arm barrels pointing backwards. He then bent down and spent five minutes picking up his cartridges before using the slip. The gun assumed to be unloaded but who knows was pointing at everyone waist to chest high during that time. Needless to say I stayed behind a mound of earth and waited until he had gone before starting to pick up. An elderly estate owner who was completely oblivious to his behaviour.

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26 minutes ago, Dave at kelton said:

Worst I have seen in many years of picking up was the gun who rather than put the gun in the slip tucked it under his arm barrels pointing backwards. He then bent down and spent five minutes picking up his cartridges before using the slip. The gun assumed to be unloaded but who knows was pointing at everyone waist to chest high during that time. Needless to say I stayed behind a mound of earth and waited until he had gone before starting to pick up. An elderly estate owner who was completely oblivious to his behaviour.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who don’t know the correct way to take a gun from or to it’s slip. 
My nephew and his mates could do it when they were ten. 

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Worst story I ever heard came from a friend (now departed this earth) who owned a small gunshop.

Young man came in one day with a 12 bore semi and explained that it was jammed solid, breech closed. Turned out his kids had been playing with it in their sand-pit.......

Friend (who was a BIG bloke) couldn't budge the action, so suggested that the gun be left with him. He took it to his workshop, laid it on the floor with the butt-plate against his lathe, and gave the cocking-lever a sharp kick. The bolt flew back and out popped the first of five live cartridges......

He "had a word" with the owner when he came back to collect his gun. As I said earlier, he was a BIG bloke....

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We were 15 years old and had just come in from hunting.  We sat down on the couch at my friends house and decided unto watch some movies.  I started walking down the road to my house to grab a DVD and put my rifle away.  I heard a gun shot when I was about halfway to my house( about 300 yards away). I go in my house and grab a stack of dvds and as I walk back I can hear ambulances in the distance. I walk in to find my 15 year old school mate dead In the floor.  When I left my friend leaned a SKS rifle against the ottoman. Another friend went to the kitchen to get a snack.  When the sks fell my other friend grabbed it and hit the trigger firing a round through the refrigerator and into the stomach of my other friend.  Shortly after the ambulance got there but I knew it was to late as the kitchen was wall the wall blood. 

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14 hours ago, Scully said:

Here we go again.....but like I’ve always said: the most dangerous person with a gun is the one whom relies on his safety in order to be safe. 
Do away with safeties and people would perhaps give more thought to where their fingers were and where their barrels were pointed. 

Absolutely right, of course.

The book also mentions that older shots who moved to hammerless guns later in life thought that the safety uncocked the gun when applied, which probably explains much.

14 hours ago, London Best said:

Townie, you have to remember, more farmers shot in those days.

Yes, hadn’t considered that. I had a tenant farmer great uncle. He had an ancient hammer gun propped against a wall (proper old farm gun, absolutely filthy) which I was allowed to play with as a child. I assume it was unloaded!

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6 minutes ago, London Best said:

Not much chance of an old-school farmer’s gun being kept unloaded, I’m afraid. I had a farmer friend whose loaded hammergun was stolen from his cowshed whilst he was on holiday in Spain. And that was as late as the 1990’s.

In the early 2000s i Had a friend who got his house robbed and the scum stole an old hammer gun that was stored in below the stairs, he said good luck to them if they tried to use it, more likely to blow their own face off according to him. He was more concerned about the old ledger books of the farm labourers names and pay dating back to the early 1800s that was stolen. 

A year later I watched a firearms incident unfold across the road from the shop i worked in, a row over a game of pool spilled outside and ended up with a guy pointing a sawn off hammergun at a guy only for it to be snatched off him and he got filled in before the local police scraped him up and arrested him. Im nearly 100% sure it turned out to be that old hammergun stolen from my friends place, we know exactly who done the stealing now but the police won't have the physical evidence to go on to arrest them apparently as it was a while after the robbery.

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As small kids we used to sneak into the old keepers cottage while he was out and rearrange his furniture. Behind the living room door was propped a shotgun, whether it was loaded or not I wouldn’t know; we were too small to pick it up to shoot it, but no doubt big enough to pull the trigger.

I know more than one farmer who drives around with a battered old gun in the footwell of their work vehicle; I’ve never asked if they’re loaded, but what would be the point if not?  As they say ‘ Aye well, thu niver knows.’ 
If the work vehicle goes into town I’ve no doubt so does the gun. It seems to be a generational thing. 

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A lovely old keeper I knew lost his license due to keeping a stash of guns permanently in his car in broad daylight. The new bobby didn’t know that was the custom for the area and made a big deal of it. They got into an argument (outside the pub he was drinking in) and his home was searched, guns and ammunition everywhere. Scuppered his keeping but his legs had gone too. Really decent guy, occasionally gave me free shooting on his shoot if he was a gun short and wanted the bag shot. Alas no more. 

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Another farmer friend drove his tractor into his yard and found a transit pickup and 2 men standing by his van. He got down from the tractor and yelled at them to ‘go away’. One shouted back, ”what you gonna do about it?” My friend reached his always loaded Baikal from the tractor and patterned it all round the man stood by his van about 80/90 yards away. They were soon gone. PS my friend is a hillbilly!

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The father of my neighbours wife was killed with his own rifle whilst crossing a fence. 
 

He went out hunting and never came back. Was found the next day on the ground all covered in frost. 
 

His wife found him. She walked past him at first thinking it was an old coat on the ground. 
 

His children were 5 and 7.

 

Mt neighbour told me the story many times. I never cross a fence, ditch or unsure ground with a loaded gun (rifle or shotgun). 

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A boy a couple of years below me at school was shot in the leg by his grandfather, as the grandfather was crossing a stile. The boy was alright in the end, but still - plenty to think about....

That was only about 15 years ago or so.

As a very young child, I can remember going to an elderly relatives farm and there being a shotgun propped up against the wall in the kitchen - about 25 / 30 years ago.

When my grandfather died about 50 years ago, my grandmother found a loaded pistol in a tin box by the side of their bed, which came as something of a surprise to her. He also had a knack of shooting pigeons off the roof with a rifle while his mother in law stood next to him and pointed out which one she wanted for the kitchen - which wasent quite as unsafe as it sounded as the house backed onto the sea.

 

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Few days after cleaning my SxS BP Repro, I was busy loading her, powder,wad,shot, wad....Hammers at half cock, or so I thought. It turns out that after removing the locks I had over tightened the retaining screw and the LH Hammer was actually jammed against the wood. Cradeled in my left arm,Percusion cap on LH nipple then as I tried to put the RH nipple on I must have touched the LH Hammer - this duly fell and fired the gun just as my friend walked past me to my left. The blast removed the front of his Belstaff jacket along with 2 buttons but, apart from burn marks, he was untouched. Been ultra careful now for 40+ yearts.

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1 hour ago, Lloyd90 said:

The father of my neighbours wife was killed with his own rifle whilst crossing a fence. 
 

He went out hunting and never came back. Was found the next day on the ground all covered in frost. 
 

His wife found him. She walked past him at first thinking it was an old coat on the ground. 
 

His children were 5 and 7.

 

Mt neighbour told me the story many times. I never cross a fence, ditch or unsure ground with a loaded gun (rifle or shotgun). 

Fences are the killers. We knew it had been raining but just didn't know how much until we got into the fields. Before long our shoes were sopping but being summertime, no problem. Oppo paused to look at something while I carried on. Unload, step over fence move away and re-load. Heard the shot and was quite prepared to fall down dead but after a couple of seconds as nothing was hurting I turned around to see Oppo stood still looking down at his foot. In a voice two octaves higher than normal, "Look at my foot", he squealed. The end of his shoe had most of a a perfect 10 bore diameter hole in it where the shot had cut it away like butter. His sock had also gone and his big toe was there and totally unmarked. The classic, trigger on barbed wire. Not too surprised he got away with it as a couple of years ealier in the late 50s he also survived a ruptured splean and meningitis when medical opinion was that he should not have done.

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Working on a farm building last year I sent my Labour in to the farm work shop . When he got back he told me there was a old shotgun standing in a corner.

i popped in and had a look . Picked the gun up and broke it .  1 live cartridge and 1 fired in it . I took the live round out and stood the gun back in is place and said nothing .

 

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2 minutes ago, mowdy said:

Working on a farm building last year I sent my Labour in to the farm work shop . When he got back he told me there was a old shotgun standing in a corner.

i popped in and had a look . Picked the gun up and broke it .  1 live cartridge and 1 fired in it . I took the live round out and stood the gun back in is place and said nothing .

And left your finger prints all over it!:w00t:

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