Negligent Discharge and CCWs

A Gun Facts fan asked what we know about concealed carry licencees and negligent discharges (accidental discharges).

Frankly, there isn’t much out there. I wish there were concise statistics on this subject, but such events are rare enough that nobody in government, criminology or epidemiology finds it worth the trouble to investigate.

The best we can do is triangulate some other numbers. 

a) According to the CDC, in the most recent reporting year, there were 606 accidental firearm deaths. Not all of these were really accidents and not all were negligent discharges. There is no breakdown, but Gary Kleck’s Targeting Guns cites one set of studies (investigative reports by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company) that note most accidental gun deaths were due to dumb behavior (not negligent discharge) – people drunk, playing with guns, walking into a hunter’s line of fire, etc.

b) There are about 11 million CCW holders in the USA and an adult population of around 240 million. So worst case possibility would be that CCW holders (4.5% of the adult population) could have caused 28 accidental deaths. But as noted, the percentage of deaths by negligent discharge is unknown and a tiny fraction of all gun deaths.

Offhand, I’d say this is a real non-problem. There are no wide-spread news reports of CCW negligent discharges. This is likely due to the fact that CCW holders are largely law abiders, safety nuts, NRA types … people who know and are routinely safe with guns.

If anyone does happen across solid negligent discharge data, I’d love to see it.


Negligent Discharge and CCWs — 6 Comments

  1. While I agree with the statement you are trying to make, I want to point out one thing.
    You stated that “… note most accidental gun deaths were due to dumb behavior (not negligent discharge) – people drunk, playing with guns, walking into a hunter’s line of fire, etc.”
    The term “accidental” implies that there is nobody at fault for the discharge when in actuality “negligent” would be more accurate because all unintentional discharges are in fact due to negligence. “People drunk, playing with guns and walking into a hunter’s line of fire” are all descriptions of negligent persons and should never be considered an accident. Respect a firearm, obey the firearm rules and you will never have a negligent discharge. It’s that simple.

  2. @Mark

    I agree that the definitions for negligent and accidental should be more crisp. However, in the common classification schemes used in gun policy they overlap. “Accidental” typically means “unintended”, such as how the CDC dumps all gun deaths that were not homicide or suicide as “accidents”.

    What is amazing though despite aggregate human foolishness, that there are so few unintended/accidental/negligent gun deaths.

  3. I’m curious, what about having a page of your own with common definitions that you use to help refine the issues with which could be construed by those willing to change or lie about the facts?

  4. @JD. Good idea. I’ll add a section to the Miscellaneous Gun Control Information page, and if that section grows too large I’ll make a new page.

  5. I saw a pretty solid figure of 616 accidental discharges. I know I’m responsible for one. And a very good friend of mine was killed by his cousin, by accident. Hard for me to believe it’s rare.

  6. I had one, about fifteen years ago. I killed my mattress by accident. No drinking or drugs involved. That action has not been repeated since. Discharges are probably not reported, whereas deaths from them are.

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