Guns That Just “Go Off”

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 7 months ago

Just a brief note on a pet peeve of mine.  I had the distinctly obnoxious displeasure of watching a man named Bo Dietl on Fox News last night discussing the George Zimmerman case.  I haven’t weighed in on this case, and probably won’t until it’s finished and I comment on what a huge waste of time and resources this whole thing was.  Circus, it is.

But on point, Mr. Dietl is apparently a former NYPD Police Department employee who now comments on television.  He was discussing guns just “going off.”  The context had to do with whether a round was in the chamber in Mr. Zimmerman’s gun, and while a round being chambered makes the gun ready to use, it also makes it liable to just “go off.”

It’s really annoying when people talk this way.  Of course, a gun does nothing of the sort.  Guns don’t “go off,” regardless of the fact that one can find an article about every day about guns “going off” and harming or killing someone.

Whether you like or dislike the “beaver tail safety” on my XDm .45 semi-auto, or any other model that has a grip safety, and whether you like or dislike the two-stage triggers that come on the XDm and S&W M&P (i.e., brush guard), the fact is that a pistol requires user interaction in order to discharge a round (excluding something like “baking off” a round because of heavy combat and high weapon temperatures, something most Americans won’t experience).

And even if a weapon doesn’t have those features, your trigger finger is your safety.  Without it, the weapon doesn’t fire.  It’s fear mongering affecting unengaged and uneducated people to say that a weapon “goes off” if you have a round in the chamber.  People who know firearms know better.

I guess Bo Dietl doesn’t know firearms.  What a putz.  Maybe he should become educated before commenting on television.  It’s the least he could do.

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  1. On July 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm, Wodeshed said:

    Bo Dietl is the white Al Sharpton.

  2. On July 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm, Mark Matis said:

    Bo Dietl was a New York pig. He swore an oath to the Constitution, yet spit on it EVERY DAY. Why would anyone expect him to tell the truth about guns? Or anything ELSE for that matter?

  3. On July 4, 2013 at 5:24 am, DAN III said:

    And where was the bullshit commentator aired ? At FOX News ! Fox….they’re all part of the same MSM machine.

  4. On July 4, 2013 at 6:08 am, Roger J said:

    I’ve been shooting for 50 years, and I’ve never had a firearm just “go off” all by itself, chamber loaded or not. Am I doing something incorrectly? Then again, you have to remember that NY is the home of the Glock “NYPD trigger” that makes the pull closer to that of a DA revolver. NY’s finest just were not up to the challenge of controlling the stock trigger. Maybe those stock guns were just “going off” by themselves (wink, wink.)

  5. On July 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm, J.P. said:

    So Bo don’t know firearms?

    (If that doesn’t date me…)

  6. On July 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm, Sam said:

    Dan, Dietl is a regular on Don Imus and used to appear frequently on MSNBC – as a security expert. Fox hatred us always silly when put into context.

  7. On July 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm, Ron Coleman said:

    I would think that an umber-experienced NYC cop would, regardless of what people think of his politics, know a lot about guns.

    But it appears not only from this item, but also from this 2010 story, too, that I might be very wrong.

  8. On July 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm, Daniel in Brookline said:

    Modern handguns don’t just go off. Any handgun that went off from being dropped on a concrete floor would practically have to be a museum piece.

    Having said that – GZ’s gun didn’t “just go off”, did it? He felt in danger for his life, and he killed the man with one shot. Nor has GZ ever claimed the shot was accidental. So this is a stupid red herring, at best.

    I’m reminded of the story of the two New York cabs that collide. One cabbie gets out and screams: “What’s the matter with ya? Ya blind?” The other cabbie retorts: “I’m not blind! I didn’t miss ya, I hit ya, didn’t I?”

  9. On July 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm, Bart said:

    Don’t forget that he is now doing TV ads for Arby’s. I think they say he is some sort of famous detective, so he is just a roast beef sandwich pitch man.

  10. On July 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm, Lanceman said:

    Mmm! Red herring! *cue Homer drool*

  11. On July 5, 2013 at 12:24 am, TW said:

    I agree with your general point — but guns, like any mechanical device, can malfunction. I was hunting with a brother-in-law’s pre-1964 Model 70 Winchester several years ago, and I was carrying the rifle with a round in the chamber and safety engaged. The gun discharged at the exact moment I disengaged the safety. Even though I *knew* that my finger was off the trigger, and it seemed to me that the releasing of the safety was what caused the gun to fire, I concluded that the fault must have been mine — until within three months the same thing happened with that rifle to two other people. I’m not a gunsmith, but I was told that there was a problem with the sear or something like that. Fortunately, in every instance, the operators were observing Rule 2.

  12. On July 5, 2013 at 1:32 am, MaxDamage said:

    Where the hammer strikes the primer directly, inertia from a bump or mis-step may cause a pistol to “go off” without a finger on the trigger, hence the reason that single-action revolvers (particularly of the black powder variety) were often carried with the hammer resting on an empty chamber, and why even modern black powder pistols like the Ruger Old Army have notches in the cylinder between the primers for the hammer to rest upon.

    Very few people these days fall six feet off their horse and have the sudden landing cause their pistol to discharge because the exposed hammer hit a rock or cycled a bit under impact.

    In the case of the Ruger and in the case of the idjits who claim a gun can just go off, they’re both appealing to nostalgia. The Ruger is doing so to provide a product and make a buck, the idjit is doing so to escape responsibility.

    Sadly, in this day and age, many expect a reporter to have done research and actually report fact. That is, again, an appeal to nostalgia, and one that never existed. Reporters report stories. Any facts contained in that story may have once been due to research and due diligence, but today are more than likely due to luck, serendipity and happenstance.

    – Max

  13. On July 5, 2013 at 1:44 am, ebola131 said:

    Some people will say anything for a buck….I mean, can be bought for 30 pieces of silver.
    Bo Dietl is a poor excuse for a human being.

  14. On July 5, 2013 at 2:12 am, askeptic said:

    Snarky response: What do you expect from a NYC cop?

  15. On July 5, 2013 at 2:57 am, JeremyR said:

    While obviously you do have to pull the trigger, bear in mind most police use Glocks which have no safety and very little trigger pull, and thus they accidentally shoot them all the time.

    I mean, you’re never going to shoot a revolver by mistake. You either have to deliberately cock the hammer, or if its double action, you have to squeeze quite soundly.

    But that’s not the case with Glocks.

  16. On July 5, 2013 at 5:00 am, s00kie said:

    Bo is a twit. He has been a guest on Don Imus for years. I quit watching Imus years ago (before the ‘ho’ comment which lost him his show at the time) when Bo went on for quite some time, singing the praises of some mobster who had died. Bo is a twit.

  17. On July 5, 2013 at 5:33 am, BrianPat said:

    TW, that’s a known issue with older Model 70’s

    Newer handguns, not gonna happen !

  18. On July 5, 2013 at 5:49 am, Instructor said:

    The way I understand it, handguns sold in the US since the late 1960’s are required to be “drop safe”. That means that there is a mechanism in place to block the hammer, firing pin, or striker from firing the handgun unless the trigger is pressed. This makes the standard practice of carrying a handgun with a round in the chamber much safer.

    It is also my understanding that rifles and shotguns do not necessarily have the same feature and should not be routinely carried with a round in the chamber.

  19. On July 5, 2013 at 5:56 am, Don said:

    I, too, watched Dietl on TV and had to really wonder if he actually was a cop. He used inflammatory, speculative language on this case that is not helpful to the national discourse. In other words, he prejudged this case.
    As for “chambering” a round in a semi automatic….
    If you are in a fistifght, or a hand to hand combat situation where your life is in danger, you will NOT have time to “chamber” a round which takes full function of BOTH hands to accomplish. Besides, a revolver has a live one chambered, so to speak, and finally, is he implying that the NYPD does NOT have one chambered in their semi automatics?
    i was a an officer. my weapon ALWAYS had one chambered. it is dangerous and foolish not to. this man is a poorly spoken charlatan who should be selling hot dogs at Nathans on Coney Island, rather than speaking to millions on TV with his “expertise”. i am sure most NYC cops cringe when they think he represents them.

  20. On July 5, 2013 at 6:09 am, Steve said:

    glocks aren’t fully cocked at rest, they’re half-cocked which happens when you push the slide back to chamber a round. Your trigger pull is finishing the cocking of the firing pin spring as you pull. I wouldn’t consider the trigger pull “light” by any means. Also there’s the trigger safety thing which in should prevent anything but a finger on the trigger from causing a discharge.

  21. On July 5, 2013 at 6:38 am, James said:

    I guess Mr. Dietl’s mouth just went off.

  22. On July 5, 2013 at 6:50 am, Super Genius said:

    However, I believe Mr. Dietl is an expert in the freshness of sandwich meats.

  23. On July 5, 2013 at 8:20 am, Mike O'the Lake said:

    Give the guy a break – he’s a cop. Every time a cop does something stupid with a gun, and ends up putting a bullet in himself, a coworker, or innocent bystander, the new reports in the passive voice that, “the gun fired” as if it had a mind of its own.

    It is not surprising he believes it – his entire professional career was spent hearing it.

  24. On July 5, 2013 at 8:51 am, Michael Chaney said:

    Mike O’the Lake is right on, but it goes beyond even the unusual uses of the passive voice. They claim many times that their guns just “went off” with no action by the officer. Cops use this BS defense all the time to justify shooting an innocent person, yet I am not aware of any incidents outside of law enforcement where a gun just “went off”. Example:

    Passive voice:


    Could go on and on.

  25. On July 5, 2013 at 9:02 am, Haiku Guy said:

    The Bo Deitl Shtick
    Stupid and Knowledgeable*
    At the same time.

    (*Knowledgeable Optional)

  26. On July 5, 2013 at 9:04 am, Haiku Guy said:


    The Bo Deitl Shtick
    Stupid and Knowledgeable*
    Both at the same time.

    (*Knowledgeable Optional)

    Note to Self: If you are calling somebody else stupid, make sure you can count to five!

  27. On July 5, 2013 at 10:21 am, Tallship said:

    Glocks are fully cocked when the slide comes back. However, there is a striker (firing pin) block that will not let the striker go forward. The action of pulling the trigger releases this block just before it releases the sear. As for the gun “just going off”, there is a youtube video of a guy who puts a full mag into his Glock, cocks it, then ties it to the trailer hitch of his truck. He then drags it through the desert for about ten miles, and it never fires. BTW, he then picks it up and fires off the entire magazine with no problems.

  28. On July 5, 2013 at 11:02 am, Harold said:

    I its extremely rare, and almost never the case when that phrase is used, but. I was one of Clayton Cramer’s research minions for his take down of the Violence Policy Center’s “Concealed Carry Killers” (people who they claimed had concealed carry licenses and “killed”) and one of the cases I looked at was a “the gun went off” tragedy. A Norinco pistol of some sort, fell out of the guy’s pocket onto a hard surface, went off and killed one of his children. An expert looked at the gun and determined it had a mechanical fault.

    As others have noted, any modern design should be safe from this, and experience tells us the venerable M1911 with its free floating firing pin is safe unless you let one get too close to a MRI’s magnet (even the Colt Series 80 firing pin safety won’t save you). (Well, don’t carry them in Condition 2, hammer down on a chambered round (which is a dumb and dangerous technique anyway, and not recommended by anyone I know), in theory if you drop it and the back hits hard the firing pin might recoil off the hammer’s face and hit the primer hard enough.)

  29. On July 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm, Kg2v said:

    The closest I ever saw to “just go off”.. I was in a gunsmiths shop checking out a used benchrest rifle that evidently had its sear engagement set too low. Rifle unload, pointed in a safe direction, you could cock it, and either twist the stock slightly, or even leave it in sunlight for a bit, and the firing pin would fire. We red tagged that gun real fast

  30. On July 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm, EBL said:

    Michael Savage is an idiot too.

  31. On July 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm, Belasarius said:

    Michael Savage is also spouting nonsense about Zimmerman saying that because Zimmerman had a round chambered meant he was looking for a fight and that if Trayvon had gotten his gun away he wouldn’t have been able to shoot Zimmerman without using two hands to chamber a round thereby giving “martial-artist” Zimmerman an opportunity to pummel him.

    Bo Dietl is pretty obnoxious. He is a pretty successful man but he puts on a schtick that makes him look like an idiot –making up words etc. Some cops don’t put a lot of thought into what they do every day …. carry a firearm.

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You are currently reading "Guns That Just “Go Off”", entry #10978 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Guns and was published July 3rd, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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