Human Factors Issues in Handgun Safety and Forensics: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Human Factors Issues in Handgun Safety and Forensics

1st Edition

By Hal W. Hendrick, Paul Paradis, Richard J. Hornick

CRC Press

248 pages | 35 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2007-11-26
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Written by two certified human factors/ergonomics professionals and  a criminalist  and firearms expert, all of whom have testified as expert witnesses,  Human Factors in Handgun Safety and Forensics draws on their formidable collective knowledge and professional experience to present the first scientifically based volume in the field. This seminal work identifies numerous human factors in handgun design, training, and related human behavior in unintentional and inadvertent shooting incidents.

 The book provides an overview of handgun use in general but focuses on firearm handling in unintentional and inadvertent shootings.  It describes the discipline of human factors and ergonomics and includes available statistics on shootings, examines their limitations, and reviews actual cases to determine human causes in unintentional and inadvertent shootings. It provides a history of firearms and details the components and mechanics of handguns and ammunition to reveal safety problems in current designs. It explains the fundamentals of shooting and how violation of those principles can result in unintentional or inadvertent shootings.

The authors stress the importance of firearms safety training. They evaluate various safety training programs (including those from the National Rifle Association), investigate inconsistencies in basic safety rules, and make suggestions to improve safety training. The importance of instructor training is also emphasized. The book concludes with a summary and application of the previous topics to forensic and investigative settings and gives advice for human factors/ergonomics professionals as expert witnesses. The book comes with an accompanying DVD with hundreds of color photos to support the topics covered in the text.

Table of Contents

An Overview 

The Problem:  Inadvertent Shootings

Handgun Shootings: Inadvertent or Intentional?

Descriptive Definition of Human Factors/Ergonomics

Historical Beginning of Human Factors


Human Factors Causes in Unintentional Shootings



Physiological Nature of Stress

Cognitive Responses to Stressful Situations

Emotional Reactions

Chronic Stress

Environmental Stress

Reducing Stress


Sympathetic Contraction



Cost of Compliance versus Perceived Injury Likelihood and Severity

Design Induced Human Error – Major Factors

Lack of Formal Handgun Safety training

History of Firearms


Gunpowder and Early guns


Wheel Lock


Cap Lock





Pocket Pistols

Handgun Components and Mechanics



Lock, Stock & Barrel


Handgun Variations


Operation, Loading, Unloading, Safety

Human Factors/Ergonomics Issues Related to Handgun Design

Ammunition Issues 

Common Features of Ammunition

Cartridge Designations and Other confusing Features

Types of Malfunctions

Other Dangers with Ammunition

Human Factors Issues Related to Ammunition





Breath Control

Trigger Control


Safety Rules: The Search for Commonality


Different Organizations Have Different and Conflicting Safety Rules

Comparison of NRA Safety Rules with Those of Other Organizations

Means of Preventing Access to Home Protection Handguns


The Problem

Preventing Unauthorized Access                                                         



Why Training is Essential

Content Issues

Course Standardization and Audits

Reporting of Unintentional Discharges

National Public Databank on Recalls and Potential Catastrophic Training Situations

Strategies for Encouraging Training

Human Factors and Forensics

Human Factors Issues in Litigation Involving Firearms Incidents

Human Factors/Ergonomics Professionals as Expert Witnesses and Consultants in Litigation

Human Factors Code of Forensic Practice

Finding Human Factors/Ergonomics Experts

Other Human Factors Issues to Consider in Forensics

Other Forensic Sciences Relevant to Human Factors Considerations in Shooting Cases

Conclusions and Recommendations         

Human Factors Causes of Unintentional Shootings and Need for Human Factors/Ergonomics Expertise

Finding Human Factors/Ergonomics Specialists and Experts

Appendix A.  Cases

Appendix B. Additional Information from a Study of Physics

                                   and Firearm Handling



Author Index 

Subject Index

DVD Containing Supporting Photos Cited in Text

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety