It's a personal experience which has haunted me for over 50 years, and I offer it again today because maybe it will stop someone from almost making the mistake which I almost made.
We were hunting jack-rabbits, and the day was done. It was hot, we were tired and thirsty, and probably just a little bit less that at our very best.
We were unloading our rifles before getting in to truck to go home. I was 13 years old/
After we slipped through the barbed-wire fence in the sagebrush country in Umatilla County, I started to open the bolt of my .257 Roberts when my junior high school teacher "Mr. Bowles" cautioned me:
"You're pointing your gun at you dad's legs; if that goes off you could kill him" he said.
I never liked Mr. Bowles. But he was right, so I pointed the rifle away from them and clicked off the safety so I could open the bolt and unload the rifle.
After over a half-century, I'm not sure whether it happened when I clicked off the safety, or when I unlocked the bolt.
The resounding BOOM startled all of us ... not the least me, because I swear I hadn't put my finger on the trigger. I must have, at some point, because the rifle discharged. Was it the fault of the gun? Was there a flaw in its construction? I never knew, nor would I ever. The important thing was that the gun went off and drilled a 55 grain .25 caliber bullet into the ground .... not into the thigh of my father.
The lesson I learned that day was that the rule of gun safety "Never point a gun at something you don't intend to destroy" was an absolute, not 'just a good idea'.
It doesn't matter whether you do or don't pull the trigger. Strange stuff happens, as it happened to me that day, and I never even bothered to thank Mr. Bowles for saving my father's life.
I never liked Mr. Bowles, anyway.
And he never went hunting with me again.
And I never blamed him.