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How do I handle an accidental weapons discharge?

Our unit just returned from the range and we had a leader accidentally discharge his weapon. No one was hurt, but boy did it tear up the commander's car. Any recommendation on how to handle this?

Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

For starters, this not an accidental discharge.  It is a negligent discharge. This leader was negligent on several levels.

  1. The weapon should have been cleared off the range.  This means the range OIC, NCOIC, and safeties also failed to fulfill their responsibilities.
  2. There is a weapons clearing barrel outside most buildings. It is a requirement to clear your weapon before you enter a building.

Techniques for resolution vary according to the unit, but I’ve seen a variety of  different disciplinary actions in the past. In combat arms units, the leader is usually relieved of their leadership position and given a relief for cause evaluation.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • Jay


    I have a question? What regulation tells you that a clearing barrel must be used if you have not been issued ammo nor magazines, and your weapon is currently equipped with a blank adaptor?

    • Mark Gerecht


      This response is provided based on the information you shared. It is not legal advice nor should this information be used to make a decision. It is highly recommended you conduct your own research, speak with your chain of command, IG, and/or JAG before making any decisions.
      I can find no regulation that covers this action specifically. However, commanders and local safety offices can implement local policies requiring this action. Unit leadership may just want to reinforce safety procedures when entering a building or area.

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  • Jesse Campos


    I recently witness an incident where a soldier E-4 was in charge of a team of 10 at JRTC while under an E-5 and E-6. Anyway he took the initiative and gave the order for them to dump all blank ammo and clear all weapons the SPC then was tasked out to do another detail, so could not visually confirm that each soldier did so. LEt me add that the NCOIC of the team did not clear that E-4s weapon or supervise the clearing of anyone in that team. ON return to there return to main base half the team was broken off to a different chalk and under the command of that chalk leader. One soldier a PFC failed to clear his weapon and the NCO in charge of his group failed to recheck all weapons for bolt blocks before the flight. So he flew with a blank round in the chamber. When they landed they moved back to the company to turn in weapons to the arms room and the soldier again did not clear his weapon and ND inside the company. So heres my question is it the duty of that SPC to clear all the weapons off the range or the E-6. I recall reading in a regulation that an E-6 or higher is responsible for clearing all soldier off the range. Is there an AR that discusses responsibilities on a range.

  • Jesse Campos


    Is there a regulation that states the NCOIC or a NCO has to clear all soldiers off a range.

    • SSG Auten


      The outlined responsibilities for range procedures are in several regulations including AR 385–63/MCO 3570.1C • 30 January 2012, Range Safety, along with local and company SOP’s (Standard Opertional Procedures), FM 17-12-8 light cavalry gunnery, there are many, the internet is a powerful research tool, that is how I found this intuitive website and the information, but to me safety on and off the range is the responsibility of all soldiers, Regonal Command West (Afghanistan) has implemented the buddy clearing policy, as have I in my aircraft, check your “buddy”. Hope this helps!

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