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katiemac
11-16-2008, 10:49 AM
**It's been brought to my attention that "misfire" is not what I'm looking for--I need an accidental fire, not a true misfire.

To answer the question, I'm sure you'll ask, "Well, what kind of gun is it?"

My answer: I don't know.

I'm working in a modern setting, technically New York City but I might swap it for Chicago. The gun is a handgun of some sort, purchased illegally. It really doesn't matter beyond "small gun" but if it's anything resembling what a police officer might use, that works for other story purposes.

So... how do these guns misfire? If my MC is holding it steady, can it fire? Or is it more likely she'd be waving it around like a maniac? If the gun needs to be damaged, that's fine, but I'd like to know in what way.

Many thanks! Rep points all around.

FinbarReilly
11-16-2008, 12:10 PM
The Top Five are:

5) Basic maintenance issues. A gun that isn't maintained well has an increasing chance of basically blowing up when used, but will usually just jam a lot.

4) Modified by non-armorer. Sometimes people who have no training or experience will modify a gun, and these modifications will cause misfire.

3) "Pop No Kick": A round doesn't leave the firing chamber even though it sounds like it did. The usual culprit is inferior ammunition, but the effect is that you have the potential for some nastiness (the next round will be loaded and fired with the first round still there).

2) Potato Silencers: There are a number of urban legend-based mods; they usually create some really bad situations. Yes, there is a thread, and yes, I'm going to be lazy. Sorry...It's November!

1) Stupid Users: Technically, a misfire is caused by not taking the weapon off its safety. Obviously, this is easy to fix.

If it helps...
FR

dmytryp
11-16-2008, 05:08 PM
Defective ammo (including wet and old bullets)
The mechanism that expells used cartridges doesn't work.
Defective magazine (the spring is bad and the bullet isn't being fed into firing chamber
Out of bulletsIn assault rifles there are sveral other options.

Puma
11-16-2008, 06:10 PM
My experience - I have a semi-automatic .22 target pistol that periodically won't expel the spent shell all the way - so it jams and won't fire the next round.

I think you probably want a semi-automatic for your gun, probably higher caliber than my .22, but small - 2" barrel. Jamming is not that unusual with semi-autos (what the other two posters listed as #1 or #2 on their lists). Puma

Perks
11-16-2008, 06:20 PM
Bad/cheap ammunition dorks up the works too.

Del
11-16-2008, 06:56 PM
So... how do these guns misfire? If my MC is holding it steady, can it fire? Or is it more likely she'd be waving it around like a maniac?

Do you want it to misfire? Meaning to not fire when the trigger is pulled.

Or do you want it to discharge accidentally? Meaning to fire unexpectedly.

Popo Agie Flow
11-16-2008, 07:09 PM
Howdy katiemac,

When you determine the city (NYC or Chi-town) contact their police department and ask them for their most common "illegal" handgun used in crimes. I'm guessing the caliber will be a 9 mm semi-automatic, but no telling which brand.

The gun probably wouldn't "fire" or "misfire" if she were holding it steady. It wouldn't necessarily "misfire" even if your MC was waving it around, but if the safety was off your MC could accidentally pull the trigger and fire off a round (that's not the same as misfire).

From your question I can't tell the context you're looking for, but I'm thinking you're more likely to be talking about an accidental "firing" instead of a "misfire."

Slainte,

Bob

FinbarReilly
11-16-2008, 08:22 PM
Heh...oops. Yeah; I think that I got caught up in the technical term. If all you want is an accidental firing, just have the character hold it; steady or wild won't matter. If you're waving it around, you can always accidentally pull the trigger. If you're holding it steady, even a small surprise or fast movement from the other person can cause you tp pull the trigger as a reflex.

FR

Kathie Freeman
11-16-2008, 08:32 PM
Bent or worn firing pin.

Chase
11-16-2008, 08:52 PM
1. Taking the term "misfire" literally, it usually means the cartridge in battery fails to discharge. That may be caused by anything from the firing pin failing to strike the primer (as Kathie said), a bad primer (oily or I've even seen them seated upside-down), a fouled or poorly formed touch hole at the bottom of the primer pocket, no powder or contaminated powder in the case. These are just a few.

2. Still with the term misfire, someone mention a "squib" load which only propels the bullet partway into the barrel.

3. The other malfunctions not allowing the cartridge to go into the chamber were failures to feed, which isn't a misfire, but it temporarily jams the works and needs to be cleared.

4. If what you want is the handgun firing accidentally, then as someone mentioned, a semi-automatic is a very likely culprit. Since police forces have climbed aboard the sem-auto bandwagon, they shoot themselves, each other, and innocent bystanders at three times the previous accidental discharge stats.

I have a real-life video of an officer climbing a ladder. He reaches for his Glock, his gloved finger obviously going inside the trigger guard where the Glock "safety" was unlocked, and he shot himself in the leg. Waving a Glock wildly may do the trick for you.

If this doesn't help, more specific malfunctions can be supplied if you want.

redpbass
11-16-2008, 09:35 PM
I have one that may work for you. My uncle bought a used 1911 some time ago. The first time he loaded it and racked the slide, the gun fired when the slide went back into place. I think it's called a slamfire, but I'm not sure. This sort of thing could be caused by misuse or a broken part or someone who is not a gunsmith trying to modify the gun.

jst5150
11-16-2008, 09:39 PM
Some common military reasons:

Bad bullets (powder may have gotten wet or round is just a 'dud')
broken firing pin (happens rarely, but happens; also the reasiest quickest way to disable ANY weapon forever
Expended shells that jam the works (happens frequently in older M16s/AR-15s)
bullets that fail to load properly from the magazine into the barrel (rare; on auto or semi-automatic settings; or manually, I suppose)
flesh caught between parts (slide, hammer and so on; happens to me occasionally on the M9/9mm Barretta because of the way I grip the weapon)
Leaving the safety onMisfires are not common for revolvers. That's why in so many cop movies, older cops "rely" on them because they are virtually fail safe. Guns with slides and magazines usually have these sorts of failures (Glock models and so on).
grains of sand caught between parts
leaving the safety on

katiemac
11-16-2008, 11:45 PM
Do you want it to misfire? Meaning to not fire when the trigger is pulled.

Or do you want it to discharge accidentally? Meaning to fire unexpectedly.

Ooh. See, I know nothing about guns. I've been misleading you all. Sorry! I do mean when the gun discharges accidentally, not when it fails to fire.

Thanks for correcting me!

Del
11-16-2008, 11:54 PM
Ooh. See, I know nothing about guns. I've been misleading you all. Sorry! I do mean when the gun discharges accidentally, not when it fails to fire.

Thanks for correcting me!

Twitchy finger. Nerves. An amateur with a gun is a very dangerous person.

ETA: There is a modification to a gun that gives it a hair trigger. It is so the gun will fire faster. If she were to get one of these and not know it, the slightest pressure on the trigger could fire the gun. I'm sure some of these gun experts could elaborate for you.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 12:08 AM
Twitchy finger. Nerves. An amateur with a gun is a very dangerous person.

ETA: There is a modification to a gun that gives it a hair trigger. It is so the gun will fire faster. If she were to get one of these and not know it, the slightest pressure on the trigger could fire the gun. I'm sure some of these gun experts could elaborate for you.

I'd rather she not have to pull the trigger, even accidentally from nerves, if that's at all possible. I feel like I've heard of this happening, but I've proven more than once I don't know guns. And yes, she is an amateur so, although this gun was purchased illegally, she didn't buy it--she's taken it from someone else.

The hair trigger would probably work, and seems to make sense in the context. She definitely wouldn't know it was there.

Chase
11-17-2008, 01:30 AM
Okay, you donít want your protagonist to be a completely irresponsible fool, as only one of those ever places a finger inside the trigger guard until aimed and ready to fire.

What youíre looking for is something like, "I dunno . . . it just went off by itself!"

One scenario possible from the situation you described is an altered or worn sear and trigger hook.

From "The Elements of a Trigger Job on an M1911 Pistol" by Syd: "The sear and hammer hook interface can be polished and lubed. Some people will attempt to take a lot of metal off the hooks and sear face. This can make the gun dangerous by allowing the sear to slip off of the hammer hooks or not catch during the cycle. This can cause the gun to fire unexpectedly or fire multiple rounds on a single trigger pull. A polish is good but removing metal and changing the angle of the hook-sear interface is dangerous. Modifications to the sear face and hammer hooks should only be attempted by a trained and certified gunsmith who has the proper tools and know-how to do the job."

As has been mentioned, an amateur "gunsmith" may have botched the job on the pistol your protagonist is mishandling. If cocked and unlocked (no "safety" engaged) a good jar can loose a round without intension, so you may have to allow a bit of careless gun handling.

Hope this helps.

Chase, who has the shivers at someone waving and thumping a gun.

RJK
11-17-2008, 01:43 AM
A cocked revolver would do the trick. A revolver has no safety. The pressure needed to pull the trigger once the gun is cocked is minimal. The exact amount varies but it is around 2 ounces. If your character grabbed the gun putting her finger inside the trigger guard, there would be a good chance it would fire.

Cops used to carry revolvers (.38's). Some off-duty cops and a few old-timer, on-duty detectives carry snub nose chief's specials as concealed weapons. They are .38 caliber, 5 shot revolvers.)

katiemac
11-17-2008, 02:02 AM
Okay, you donít want your protagonist to be a completely irresponsible fool, as only one of those ever places a finger inside the trigger guard until aimed and ready to fire.

What youíre looking for is something like, "I dunno . . . it just went off by itself!"

Exactly. She is acting quite irresponsibly, but I don't want her to be a complete fool.



As has been mentioned, an amateur "gunsmith" may have botched the job on the pistol your protagonist is mishandling. If cocked and unlocked (no "safety" engaged) a good jar can loose a round without intension, so you may have to allow a bit of careless gun handling.

This would probably do the trick, thanks. Careless I can handle, since there's no way around that's how she's acting.

Now, this is in her POV and considering she's as clueless as I am, I'm probably not even going to explain how it happened--just needed to know it's possible. Similarly, she's not going to know what kind of gun it is, either. So if I say "pistol" or "handgun"--that'll do?

Thanks!

Administering rep points to all now.

Chase
11-17-2008, 02:06 AM
Another scenario with less culpability for your protagonists. Redpbass mentioned a slam-fire, the pistol discharging as a round goes into battery. While looking up something for Heyjude, I found where Glock 21s were pulled from service by a law-enforcement agency for just such a malfunction.

An officer going on duty racked back the slide to load his chamber, and it fired when her let the slide go forward. The malfunction was duplicated by his unit armorer. Tests revealed the Glock’s malfunction came from rough treatment.

It’s the reason we rack a round by the "slingshot method," pulling the slid back with the thumb and forefinger of the weak hand, while the strong hand keeps the muzzle more or less on target (never pushing the slide back, which tears up lots of forearms and elbows, plugs the guy standing beside us, etc.).

As has been said, just about any handgun may do this after an amateur gunsmith has been at the clockworks. Yep, a two-ounce trigger is an "accident" ready to happen.

Chase
11-17-2008, 02:15 AM
Yep, "handgun" covers 'em all. For the technical, all handguns were "pistols" before Sam Colt made the revolving pistol a bunkhousehold word.

Revolving pistol soon was shortened to revolver, but it was technically still a pistol.

Modern handgunners like to differentiate and insist wheelguns (with turning cylinders) are revolvers and almost all most others are pistols. Exceptions are few, and "handgun" seems to cover all the bases.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 02:18 AM
Another scenario with less culpability for your protagonists. Redpbass mentioned a slam-fire, the pistol discharging as a round goes into battery. While looking up something for Heyjude, I found where Glock 21s were pulled from service by a law-enforcement agency for just such a malfunction.

An officer going on duty racked back the slide to load his chamber when it fired. The malfunction was duplicated by his unit armorer. Tests revealed the Glock’s malfunction came from rough treatment.

It’s the reason we rack a round by the "slingshot method," pulling the slid back with the thumb and forefinger of the weak hand, while the strong hand keeps the muzzle more or less on target (never pushing the slide back, which tears up lots of forearms and elbows, plugs the guy standing beside us, etc.).

As has been said, just about any handgun may do this after an amateur gunsmith has been at the clockworks. Yep, a two-ounce trigger is an "accident" ready to happen.

So would she have to actually load the gun for this to happen? Because I like the idea of the gun being a faulty manufacture and pulled, since this is a weapon purchased on the street. Especially helpful since it's a type used in law enforcement.

Basic setup: One character is an ex-cop and buys this gun on the street. (Yep, bad.) Then the protagonist finds the gun in the ex-cop's place, knows he probably shouldn't have it but doesn't know where it came from. She takes it without ex-cop knowing when she feels like she could use some extra protection. And gun goes off unexpectedly.

But when she takes it, I don't see her knowing to load it or even really caring if it is loaded at all. She just wants the "intimidation factor" of having the gun. Yep, stupid, but she's not thinking so clearly these days.

ETA: On second thought, being friends with cops, I guess it's not unrealistic for her to know how to load the gun. But if she loads it and it slamfires, is that an immediate result? Or could she load it and say, an hour later it fires (or if ex-cop has pre-loaded it a day or two ago)? But again, she was just taking the gun for the sake of having the gun, not really caring if it's loaded. She has absolutely no intention of shooting it.

Chase
11-17-2008, 02:45 AM
Oops! It was the Glock 19 which had the infamous, hush-hush malfunction. As age creeps up on me, I have shorter-term memory. Also, as age creeps up on me, I have shorter-term memory.

The Glock malfunction is described here:

http://www.thegunzone.com/glock/upgrade-faq.html (http://www.thegunzone.com/glock/upgrade-faq.html)

Yes, it will require your protagonist to load (rack in a round), but she might want to do that to intimidate the person being confronted with the dramatic noise it makes.

She surely would have seen and heard that action on TV, and when she does, BOOM! We have escalated our intimidation exponentially.

Popo Agie Flow
11-17-2008, 03:50 AM
Basic setup: One character is an ex-cop and buys this gun on the street. (Yep, bad.) Then the protagonist finds the gun in the ex-cop's place, knows he probably shouldn't have it but doesn't know where it came from. She takes it without ex-cop knowing when she feels like she could use some extra protection. And gun goes off unexpectedly.

But when she takes it, I don't see her knowing to load it or even really caring if it is loaded at all. She just wants the "intimidation factor" of having the gun. Yep, stupid, but she's not thinking so clearly these days.


I like your ideas about her finding and carrying the gun. Most cops I know (or other folks who have guns -- keep in mind this is Wyoming) wouldn't have an unloaded gun in their home. An unloaded gun is no more than an expensive hammer. So don't have her load it; maybe her cop friend told her it was loaded or maybe she just assumes it is or, as you said, maybe she doesn't care.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 03:56 AM
I like your ideas about her finding and carrying the gun. Most cops I know (or other folks who have guns -- keep in mind this is Wyoming) wouldn't have an unloaded gun in their home. An unloaded gun is no more than an expensive hammer. So don't have her load it; maybe her cop friend told her it was loaded or maybe she just assumes it is or, as you said, maybe she doesn't care.

Thanks--that's actually an excellent point I didn't really consider until you mentioned it. This guy would definitely have a loaded gun--he's extremely paranoid. So she'll take it without thinking/caring one way or another, and it goes off. She won't be loading it at all.

So as long as I know it's possible for some faulty manufacturing to occur, especially in an illegal purchase, then I'm comfortable enough to go ahead with this storyline. Like I said, it's her POV so she won't necessarily understand what happened.

Thanks so much for everyone's help!

Del
11-17-2008, 04:08 AM
Sometimes they go off.

Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe6Wp9fASrI)

I bet she felt stupid.

Chase
11-17-2008, 04:26 AM
I bet she felt stupid.

And very, very lucky she missed. Otherwise, the coverup would have ruined everyone's career involved when the missing video from the photographer "accidentally" killed driving to the six o'clock news was fianlly uncovered.

As it was, she most likely got three day's administrative leave with pay, followed by fiteen minutes re-training on how the Glock trigger "safety" requires you don't put your finger on the trigger unless you want to shoot.

Technology can be way too cool for some people.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 04:27 AM
Sometimes they go off.

Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe6Wp9fASrI)

I bet she felt stupid.

Holy crap!

Del
11-17-2008, 04:32 AM
Well, If a trained officer can accidentally discharge her weapon I guess it could be believable enough in the OPs story. And the thing is, she is just standing there.

Chase
11-17-2008, 05:27 AM
Sometimes they go off. I bet she felt stupid.

Your point is well made. It did go off, but not without the clueless accomplice standing there behaving in an absolutely absurd manner for a trained police officer.

I may be wrong, but I think Katie may be aiming for a protagonist who walks on the wild side, but isn't quite the moron that Las Vegas cop is.

Smiling Ted
11-17-2008, 07:29 AM
So would she have to actually load the gun for this to happen? Because I like the idea of the gun being a faulty manufacture and pulled, since this is a weapon purchased on the street. Especially helpful since it's a type used in law enforcement.

Basic setup: One character is an ex-cop and buys this gun on the street. (Yep, bad.) Then the protagonist finds the gun in the ex-cop's place, knows he probably shouldn't have it but doesn't know where it came from. She takes it without ex-cop knowing when she feels like she could use some extra protection. And gun goes off unexpectedly.

But when she takes it, I don't see her knowing to load it or even really caring if it is loaded at all. She just wants the "intimidation factor" of having the gun. Yep, stupid, but she's not thinking so clearly these days.

ETA: On second thought, being friends with cops, I guess it's not unrealistic for her to know how to load the gun. But if she loads it and it slamfires, is that an immediate result? Or could she load it and say, an hour later it fires (or if ex-cop has pre-loaded it a day or two ago)? But again, she was just taking the gun for the sake of having the gun, not really caring if it's loaded. She has absolutely no intention of shooting it.


Sometimes cops - crooked ones - will confiscate firearms and keep them for themselves...just in case.

And often it's not a classic 9mm or machine pistol. In LA, small, concealable semiautomatic weapons - the new "Saturday Night Specials" or "Junk Guns" - have been quite popular as criminal carry pieces. They're typically 22- or 25-caliber semi-automatics, made by companies like Raven or Jimenez. They're cheap, easy to conceal, and often as dangerous to the owner as to the victim. They could definitely, definitely fire accidentally.

Or explode.

Good times, good times....

katiemac
11-17-2008, 07:30 AM
They could definitely, definitely fire accidentally.

Or explode.

Good times, good times....

Excellent!

And by that I mean excellent for the scary plot monster, not necessarily me.

hammerklavier
11-17-2008, 07:36 AM
A "single action" semi-automatic with rimfire ammo (such as a .22) can discharge if you give it a good rap on the back end. But I like the nerves explanation best, I know you think that puts your character in a bad light, but someone without any training about guns could very, very, very easily do that.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 07:45 AM
But I like the nerves explanation best, I know you think that puts your character in a bad light, but someone without any training about guns could very, very, very easily do that.

It's not so much a bad light that I'm worried about, just staying true to the situation. The last thing she wants to do is actually fire the gun (well then you shouldn't have a gun in the first place, bad character!). Nerves will be a factor whether it fires or she pulls a trigger.

ideagirl
11-18-2008, 07:16 AM
But when she takes it, I don't see her knowing to load it or even really caring if it is loaded at all. She just wants the "intimidation factor" of having the gun. Yep, stupid, but she's not thinking so clearly these days.

Excuse the bluntness, but if she's that stupid and irresponsible, why on earth do you have a problem with her accidentally touching/pulling the trigger? It sounds completely realistic to me that someone who would do the things you're describing there, and who knows nothing about guns, would accidentally fire the gun.

It's much simpler and more realistic for her to accidentally fire the gun than for some rare and obscure metalsmithing error to be the cause. Especially since an ex-cop would be far less likely than your average joe to buy a messed-up gun in the first place--he'd be more likely to have good sources and to be able to tell whether a gun was messed up.

ideagirl
11-18-2008, 07:20 AM
The gun is a handgun of some sort, purchased illegally. It really doesn't matter beyond "small gun" but if it's anything resembling what a police officer might use, that works for other story purposes.

Why was it purchased illegally, and in what way was it illegal? It's very hard for civilians to legally own handguns in New York City, but all the cop has to do is go upstate and he could LEGALLY buy one. He could even buy one at a gun show without having to undergo a background check--and that would be legal. When he brought it back to NYC it would become illegal--i.e., illegal to own, now that he's within the city limits--but it wouldn't have been illegally purchased.

I mention upstate New York because if he went out of state, then yes, that purchase would be illegal. You have to buy handguns in the state where you live. If you buy them out of state you can't take possession of them; you have to have the seller ship it directly to a gun seller where you live.

So, again: why would an ex-cop bother buying a gun illegally from some black-market seller, when he could just drive upstate and buy one legally?

katiemac
11-18-2008, 07:24 AM
Thanks for the info. It's all plot- and character-specific. I have my reasons. ;)

Del
11-18-2008, 08:49 AM
Why was it purchased illegally, and in what way was it illegal? It's very hard for civilians to legally own handguns in New York City, but all the cop has to do is go upstate and he could LEGALLY buy one. He could even buy one at a gun show without having to undergo a background check--and that would be legal. When he brought it back to NYC it would become illegal--i.e., illegal to own, now that he's within the city limits--but it wouldn't have been illegally purchased.

I mention upstate New York because if he went out of state, then yes, that purchase would be illegal. You have to buy handguns in the state where you live. If you buy them out of state you can't take possession of them; you have to have the seller ship it directly to a gun seller where you live.

So, again: why would an ex-cop bother buying a gun illegally from some black-market seller, when he could just drive upstate and buy one legally?

I don't know what Katie's plot is but as for why a cop would want an illegal gun, if a bad cop needs to justify a shooting or to frame a suspect he might have a throw-away gun to plant. Or he might use it in a crime knowing well that his legal guns might eventually be traced.

I can't think of a legitimate reason for a cop to buy an illegal gun, save for collectors purposes. But it is up to the writer to make everything work. We don't have to know how until we read it. :D

zappi
12-22-2008, 01:26 AM
I don't know what Katie's plot is but as for why a cop would want an illegal gun, if a bad cop needs to justify a shooting or to frame a suspect he might have a throw-away gun to plant. Or he might use it in a crime knowing well that his legal guns might eventually be traced.

I can't think of a legitimate reason for a cop to buy an illegal gun, save for collectors purposes. But it is up to the writer to make everything work. We don't have to know how until we read it. :DFBI Name Checks ó name checks are also required for many applications. The name check background search (http://backgroundsearch.com/BackgroundCheck.html) is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks. In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found. Of the remaining 20 percent, most are resolved within six months. Less than one percent of cases subject to an FBI name check remain pending longer than six months. Some of these cases involve complex, highly sensitive information and cannot be resolved quickly. Even after FBI has provided an initial response to USCIS concerning a match, the name check is not complete until full information is obtained and eligibility issues arising from it are resolved.