May 22, 2004

Safety Bullet?

MoparMike has two posts up dealing with the Safety Bullet. (Here's the second post.) More specifically it's an e-mail exchange between MoparMike & the inventor of the Safety Bullet.

Want to know what the Safety Bullet is?

According to the website it's a gun lock. It has the shape of a cartridge & you insert it into the chamber. If you wish to load the firearm you simply remove the Safety Bullet (by either racking the slide of removing it from the cylinder like you would an ordinary cartridge). But if you pull the trigger while the Safety Bullet is chambered the tip will expand & lock the gun up. You'll then have to use a dowel to compress the tip of the Safety Bullet for extraction.

The website recomends having one Safety Bullet in the chamber & another in themagazine of a semi-auto. This way if someone racks the slide & then pulls the trigger they'll be thwarted by the Safety Bullet.

MoparMike sums it up nicely but I can't help but repeat a few points he brings up.

The only effective safety for any firearm or any other mechanical device is the knowledge of the operator. If you don't have that ol' safety betwixt your ears then all the gadgets in the world won't save you.

That being said there are a few problems with the Safety Bullet:

It uses a primer to push a rod forward to expand the plastic insert that locks the gun up. This means that an explosive force is used to operate the lock. Primers all by themselves are loud & I could see someone mistaking it for a gunshot. Now the advanatge to this is that if you're in the house you'll know if someone tries to fire your handgun. The disadvantage is that you or someone else might mistake it for an actual gunshot & respond appropriately when you confront the person holding the firearm.

Another thing is I'm simply uncomfrotable with the idea of a primer being used to push anything into my chamber. I'm sure the owner will say there's no harm done to the firearm but I'd much prefer a different method of achieving his goal.

Since it is primer driven then once it is used you now have an inoperable Safety Bullet. Well until you send it back to the shop to have it re-primed. A handloader might be able to re-prime it on his own, but I'm not certain of how easy or difficult it'd be.

So once you have the Safety Bullet you're pretty much in a position where you're using a device that you cannot practice unlocking unless you buy multiple devices.

If in the middle of the night you encouter a burglar & forget to remove the Safety Bullet from the chamber you're out of luck unless said burglar does the gentlemanly thing & calls a time out whilst you disngage the Safety Bullet.

For those who would counter that a person should be alert enough to remember there's a Safet Bullet in the chamber then that defeats the argument in favor of the Safety Bullet doesn't it? If a person can remember in a crisis whether or not his firearm is loaded & with what kind of ammo then I see no reason why he couldn't store the firearm with nothing in the chamber at all. Again, safety is between the ears, not a device.

If you leave the firearm unattended, then storing it unloaded would present no problems other than negating the necessity of a Safet Bullet installed. & along those lines, let's say you come home & don't check the firearm. Later that night you are faced with a forced entry to your home. You insert your magazine or try to rotate the cylinder but discover that the Safety Bullet has locked up the mechanism.

In short the potential for a dangerous situation is increased by using the Safety Bullet. It might prevent a negligent discharge but it might also cause a sate where you are unable to defend yourself. On firearms that you don't use for home defense (say a .22 or a .32 or a .500 S&W Magnum) a Safety Bullet would probably only cause minor aggrevation if it's activated. & I'll concede that it might prevent a negligent discharge. But not more effectively than storing the firearm in question unloaded.

On a defensive firearm however the potential for rendering that firearm inoperable when you need it most far outweighs the convenience of not actually paying attention to safety.

& then there's the question of long guns. Would you want to find a 32" dowel to unlock your shotgun? Or repeat the effort if you have a double barrel? It'd be quciker to load a muzzleloader than unlock a Safety Bullet in a shotgun. Then again that could be the reason why the Safety Bullet is only offered in pistol calibers.

And one final point about the Safety Bullet: if you invent somethig foolproof nature usually provides more effecient fools. Kids who are prone to accidentally discharging a firearm don't usually pick it up & pull the trigger (although in some cases this does happen). What is more likely is a kid who is fascinated by mechanical things playing around to see how the thing works. Pulling the slide back once or twice or spinning the revolver's cylinder would effectively negate the Safety Bullet.

A much better solution would be to store your firearms so they are inaccesible to those whom you do not trust around them. If that means not letting the neighborhood kids hang out at your house when you're not home then so be it. If that means teaching the neighborhood kids about firearms safety then that'll do a helluva lot more to prevent negligent discharges than any mechanical device ever will.

So I wouldn't recommend the Safety Bullet much less tout it as the "answer" to the "epidemic" of negligent shootings.

The fact is we have about 800 negligent shootings resulting in fatalities every year. About 10% of those involve children under 14 or so (if I remember correctly - Kevin Baker would be up to date on the particulars of the latest stats, so if he's reading this I'm hoping he'll correct me). This is a lower number than what we had 80 years ago. The gadgets didn't cause the decrease in negligent discharges, education did (& this is one area where I will say the NRA has done good).

I can understand the desire to build a better moustrap & I won't condemn anyone from seeking a profit from it. What I do find distatseful is the Safety Bullet team seems to be claiming that their product is the most effective cure for a problem that is relatively non-existent. Education will do much more to make people safer than relying on any mechanical device. The Safety Bullet crew either doesn't understand that or their desire for profits coupled with misguided good intentions has blinded them to any other solution but theirs.

& this attitude more than any other is what drives legislators to pass laws that limit freedom in the name of public welfare. A person who has his own interests in mind is nowhere near as dangerous as someone who has your interests in mind.

If you haven't already go read MoparMike's posts on the Safety Bullet. & check out hsi other posts as well. & before you lay down the cash for a Safety Bullet, read this, this and this. I think you'll find you can make your firearms safer by understanding & following the advice in those links than by buying any device.

Posted by Publicola at May 22, 2004 03:37 PM

This does seem more dangerous. Safety is important, but this makes it more dangerous for you in the longrun.

Posted by: gunner at May 22, 2004 07:47 PM

Mopar Mike's site appears to be down right now, so I'll have to take your word for it. But this does sound like a crock to me.

Posted by: Erbo at May 23, 2004 12:51 AM

I would say that they could be used to render a gun useless if found by a kid...but wouldn't leaving it unloaded be just as good? Or keeping it away from the kids to begin with?

Posted by: Garrum at May 23, 2004 01:48 AM

Great, one more thing the Massachusetts legislature can mandate the purchase of.

Currently you are required to buy a trigger or cable lock with EVERY gun purchase. AND state law requires that your guns be stored so they are inaccessible to unauthorized users.

The "safety bullet" concept is highly redundant as far as the People's Republic of Massachusetts is concerned, therefore it will be embraced with open arms.

Posted by: Bruce at May 24, 2004 06:38 AM


Thanks for the comments. I had never considered that if the gun went off someone would think of it as if the gun was fired. The noise is about as loud as a quarter hitting a bottle. It does not go BAM but clink.

If you are required by law to have a safety device why not have one that is easy to use, that is safe, fast, and allows you to keep your gun posted.

I agree education is the way to go. Now go to google and type in Accidental Shooting and start reading the stories. Now tell me where the safety bullet would not have worked?

I am a gun owner NRA member. After two years of research I think all other gun safety devices border on rediculous. This makes sense to me.

By the way it works every time, it does not make a lot of noise and even if it did it just saved someones life. I want to end accidental shooting this will do it.

Thanks for your comments. Email me any time and I will answer all your questions.

Mike Worley
Inventor of the Safety Bullet

Posted by: MIke Worley at March 29, 2005 03:47 PM
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