I know what I’m doing, and other lies I tell myself

  • Published
  • By Air Education and Training Command Occupational Safety

Many of us convince ourselves we know what we are doing when we often do not. Take firearms for example. Too often personnel convince themselves they know how to properly and safely handle a weapon, but in reality, they don’t.

A 10-year review of Air Force mishaps revealed 60 personnel injured from bullet wounds. That translates to loss of life, loss of appendages, and more than 1,000 days away from work. Ironically, the military trains us on proper and safe handling procedures. We learn how to properly load, fire, clear and clean a weapon. But sometimes overconfidence leads to mishaps.

Here are only a few examples of firearm mishaps in the Air Force:

  • Sitting in vehicle; handling gun; shot self in hand/leg
  • Moving rifle to gun cabinet; discharged into foot
  • Cleaning handgun; discharged weapon into foot
  • Handling gun; shot in hand; thumb amputation
  • Cleaning firearm; round discharged into leg

Handling a weapon is not the time to become overconfident, complacent or distracted. Treat every weapon as if it is loaded, always ensure the weapon is cleared prior to cleaning or transporting, and never point a weapon at yourself or another person.

If you are not completely comfortable handling a weapon, complete a basic firearm safety and handling course and go to a local range to become familiar with your weapon. Training, familiarity, and comfort can avert mishaps.