How do I handle an accidental weapons discharge? | – Leader Development for Army Professionals

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?

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.

In other situations, Soldiers are given Article 15’s, ordered to perform corrective training, or ordered to become range certified.

This is a serious issue—the potential to kill someone can not be downplayed.  Saying “no one was hurt” is not an excuse.  You need to deal with this in a serious manner that fits the circumstances.

The property damage to the commander’s car is an issue as well.  That will at least require an MP report which means it will show up on the blotter and probably wind up with the chain of command getting a call.  I am sure this will also result in a serious incident report as well.  This leader is going to get a lot of unwanted attention.

This is not an honest mistake, it is an unforgivable sin. For more information about the difference between these types of leadership challenges, read this related article.

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posted on 03/27/2017 under Q&A
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.

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

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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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