Thursday, December 8, 2011

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

MythBusters crew, you guys really screwed up here.

They were test firing a cannon at some water barrels and missed. Thankfully no one was hurt, but there's a reason ranges are limited on the kind of ordinance you can use and what is a safe direction to fire.

And they also report that this was a "misfire". So that's a violation of rule 1 and a potential violation of rules 2 and 3.

1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover 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.

There's a reason it takes breaking at least 2 rules for something bad to happen. Depending on the details the Mythbusters could have broken all four (at the very least they broke 2). 4 is especially important since the cannon ball bounced out of the range.

They were very lucky no one got hurt. This also shows that for a group that has been doing this for years and normally has a pretty good safety record that complacency and sloppy safety *will* catch up to you.

One lesson that can be taken from this is the importance of range capacity and limits. What size projectiles can the range's berms, walls, whatever soak up. What angles of fire are acceptable. How much kinetic energy can be used before there's a risk of a projectile ricocheting or bouncing out of the range. How far can a projectile reasonably travel if it is not stopped.

Another interesting thing was the reaction. Last night I was with a mixed crowd when I learned of this story. Those who were more on the gun control side or even just inexperienced with guns were more willing to make excuses for the Mythbusters. While those that were pro-firearms or at least knowledgeable placed the blame on those operating the canon.

The former group treated it like some sort of natural disaster or random accident and underscored how hard the situation would be to repeat. They saw the weapon itself as some sort of actor, bearing some of the blame. One person even pointed to the house that got hit and blamed California building codes.

Meanwhile the latter group admitted that randomness played a big role but that was besides the point on where the responsibility lay. The Mythbusters clearly violated safety rules when operating a large firearm. The weapon was only a danger when people started playing with it in an unsafe manner.

Link via Ace.

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