Choose your friends carefully, because the wrong choice might kill you

The late, great Jeff Cooper promulgated four rules of firearms safety that have become almost universally recognized.  Some modify the wording, others add more rules, but I guarantee you:  if you observe his basic four rules faithfully, you won’t ever injure anyone by a negligent or accidental discharge of your firearm.  They are:

  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 till your sights are on the target.
  4. Know your target, and what is beyond it.

Sadly, in the heat of a defensive engagement, it may not be practical to follow all of those rules, all of the time.  When that happens, something like this may follow.

Authorities in San Antonio say a man who was reaching for a handgun was shot by a police officer whose bullet grazed the suspect and then struck an 18-year-old sitting nearby, killing the teen.

. . .

The 24-year-old man, who hasn’t been identified, was hospitalized. McManus told the San Antonio Express-News that the man has an “extensive” criminal record.

There’s more at the link, and more information in this subsequent article.

I’m sure the officer is going to be affected by this for the rest of his life.  There’s no suggestion that he was not justified in defending himself;  but, in the haste of having to react to an imminent threat, he had little or no time to take note of anyone on the far side of the threat.  The result is a dead person who wasn’t party to the threat – at least, if initial reports are correct.  That he was in the company of a criminal, and at the scene of a reported crime, and therefore exposing himself to danger by association, as it were, doesn’t mean that he deserved to die.  I’m sure there will be many recriminations, and possibly lawsuits, resulting from this.

On the other hand, it bears out, yet again, the sage advice of John Farnam, which we’ve mentioned in these pages on several occasions.  Follow this link and scroll down to the entry for March 19th, 2003 to find it.

The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things.

The deceased ignored that very practical advice, and chose to associate with criminals – who are, almost by definition, “stupid people”, irrespective of their IQ (or lack thereof).  Tragically, he paid for that choice with his life.  Just as sadly, there are many (probably including his surviving family) who will ignore that reality, and blame anyone and everyone except him for what happened to him.  The fact remains:  if he’d chosen better company, he would almost certainly be alive right now.



  1. A couple of days ago, an 18-y.o. boy was shot to death by his 'best friend' with a .22 handgun. The pair had been smoking marijuana when the victim showed the weapon to his pal, first removing the magazine. The bullet which remained chambered was the one which killed the boy.

  2. This also sounds like an application of Niven's Law:

    "Don't throw at an armed man."

    and its corollary:

    "Don't stand next to someone who's throwing at an armed man."

  3. After the first year at the local PD, I got assigned to the Forensics Unit (staff assistant) and there I got exposed to the real truth.

    Random killings of innocent people are very rare. Like almost unicorn rare. That nice lady from church who got whacked? Well, she led a secret life of strange sex and drunken debauchery involving picking up strangers on the side of the road.

    The model student gunned down by the evil copper? Well, student had been taking bare minimum class load to remain a student, was on academic suspension, known to be a major dealer of drugs, tried to run the cop over twice during a traffic stop, and the autopsy showed severely elevated levels of just about every illegal substance known at the time. But he was a good boy.

    And on and on, here locally, or nationally. Wanna get slabbed? Play fast and furious with the Devil in one of his many guises.

    Curiously, the most innocent murder locally, besides the student murders in 1990, was a nice old grandfather who was supplementing his income by legally driving a cab.

  4. Yep. Two teenaged boys were shot (not fatally) a block from my house (and this used to be (still is, actually) a nice neighborhood) @ a month ago. Bad cess all around. Then details started leaking out – boys were not *from* the neighborhood but from an area of town less known for benign circumstances, it was 5:30 AM on a school day, and the victims were acquainted with their assailant(s).

  5. It was absolutely amazing how little I got in trouble and fights after I quit drinking, going to the bars and staying out after midnight. Not that I didn't enjoy the aforementioned but it gets old after a while or perhaps it was I who got old after a while. And it did take a good while.

  6. Play fast and furious with the Devil in one of his many guises.

    I like that statement.

    I never have understood the " I'm prepared. Doesn't matter where I go. " attitude. Those people sound they go looking for trouble.

    I much prefer Mr. Farnam's advice.

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