Sunday, June 29, 2008

What happened to the Four Rules?

From Yahoo! News:

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) - - French officials were probing Monday an incident that left 17 people injured, including a child in critical condition, when soldiers used live rounds in a weekend visitors day display.

Fifteen civilians, including five children, and two soldiers were injured on Sunday when members of a marines parachute regiment demonstrated a hostage liberation exercise to visitors at their barracks outside the southwestern city of Carcassonne, regional officials said.

Four of the 17 were seriously injured, two critically, but doctors said early Monday that the condition of the worst injured had stabilised.

Hospitals in the southern cities and towns of Toulouse, Narbonne, Montpellier and Perpignan, as well as Carcassonne, were treating the injured.

One soldier, described as experienced with no history of behavioral or psychological problems, was detained following the incident.

Military and civilian investigators immediately opened probes into the events at the Third Marine Parachute Regiment barracks.

France's Defence Minister Herve Morin traveled to Carcassonne on Sunday evening to visit the injured.

"I have ordered an immediate inquiry ... to determine as quickly as possible the circumstances of this tragic incident," he said.

"One way or another something went wrong .... This type of incident is very rare and incomprehensible. There are procedures in place to prevent this kind of thing," he told journalists.

The minister said security measures were respected and that the soldier who fired the live rounds had an exemplary record.

"Security regulations were respected a priori ... use of blanks requires a distance of at least 10 metres (31 feet) from the public and the public was more than 10 metres away," said Morin.

"According to initial findings of the inquiry, the incident involved a soldier with a perfect record, who had participated in operations and had seven to eight years of experience. There is nothing that would make one think he had behavioral or psychological problems," he added.

The senior official for the Aude region where Carcassonne is located, Bernard Lemaire, said that investigators believed the deadly ammunition was loaded by mistake.

"The question being asked is 'Did the soldier engage in a criminal act or not?'," Lemaire said. "For now, no one can answer that, but the theory being worked on is one of error."

Monsieur Lemaire, I can damnwell guarantee you that it was an error - an error of judgment! Who the hell thought it was a good idea to point a firearm at others, even if he/she was absolutely convinced it wasn't loaded with live rounds? You never, EVER do that!

The Four Rules of Firearms Safety, as codified by the legendary, late Col. Jeff Cooper, are very simple:

1. All firearms are always loaded.

2. Never point the muzzle of a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

If the soldier(s) in question had observed Rule #2, this wouldn't have happened. If every firearms owner observes the Four Rules at all times, no-one will ever be injured due to the negligent discharge of a firearm.

It really is that simple. Someone either wasn't properly trained in firearms safety, or ignored his/her training. Result: seventeen injured, two critically.



Anonymous said...

Am I the only one that wonders how this could have happened even with blanks?
The weapon I used when I was in the army in my country had a special barrel for blanks, which included a device at the end to desintegrate the blank "bullet". Firing live ammo with that barrel would cause the bullet to stop in the barrel, and very likely cause serious damage to the weapon, but the bullets wouldn't leave the weapon.
There is no way ever that you could fail to notice that the weapon was not set up with this device, it's pretty bulky.

That said, even with those blanks, I believe the safety distance was said to be several yards, since the remaining dust keeps going forward.

Is there other versions of blanks where this is actually possible?
And weapons that use the standard barrel, without any device attached, to fire them?

Anonymous said...

I googled around a bit and the weapon used seems to have been the FAMAS assault rifle, which seems to be equivalent to other military rifles in the 5.56 calibre.
And it wasn't just me, it seems that everyone else that uses blanks in those rifles uses a blank firing adapter, it's even needed for the weapon to work when firing blanks, otherwise it wont cycle.

According to a few articles cited on this forum:
it seems that the scenario here was that the commandos laid out a smoke screen and then firing through it, unfortunally with spectators on the other side of it.

This gives a few possibilities, one is that the BFA was shot of with the first bullet, and shrapnel caused some of the damage, and due to the smoke screen the commando didn't see people dropping.

In either case, this shouldn't be possible to happen.
And shooting through smoke with civilians on the other side that you cant see does violate the 2nd rule, even if you are using blanks..
I wonder who came up with the bright idea to use a smokescreen in a public demonstration...

Robohobo said...

They are French. 'Nuf said.

Rico said...

I suspect, given the fact that there were no fatalitiess, that the wounds were caused by ricochets rather than direct fire, which would absolve them of the worst stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Blank Adapter for an M16:

You attach it by unscrewing the screw through the middle, sliding it onto your flash suppressor and tightening the screw down to hold it in. It works by trapping the gasses in the barrel and forcing them through the gas tube to cycle the action.

I know that the soldier had a FAMAS, but even so, blank adapters are pretty standard stuff, aren't they?

Wouldn't you notice if you had one of these widgets on your AR15 or M16 and shot live ammo through it (I mean after you finished picking the pieces of rifle out of yourself)?

Anonymous said...

Am I grokking this corectly? There were LIVE rounds fired through a smoke screen at a PR event?

Did the mess hall serve up a whole cse of stupid??????????????