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Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Oven safe to 350 degrees - or the case of the cooked gun

By Rich Kinsey

Officers deal with their firearm like a tool. It is inspected daily. If the gun gets rained on or wet, rolled around on during a scuffle or fired, it is cleaned and lubricated as soon as possible.

An officer's life may depend on that firearm. Many officers in the area may never fire their weapon "on the street," but that gun must be ready to be drawn and defend the officer all the time.

Keeping a weapon safe at home is of paramount concern. Most officers with children have gun safes and place their pistols in them as soon as they come home. Some officers leave their service weapons in their locker at the station. It is not mandatory that officers carry their firearms 24 hours a day.

Before an officer has children, he may keep the firearm on a shelf in the closet, a dresser drawer or in a nightstand drawer. It is up to the officer, but it is each one's duty to keep it safe, secure and out of reach of children, or anyone else for that matter.

One of the finest officers to ever wear an Ann Arbor Police Department badge was a seemingly eternally youthful man who was a hustler from the day he walked in the front door until the day he retired. His boundless energy would rival the Energizer Bunny. He made his own "luck" by working hard and he brought some of the department’s best arrests through the station doors.


Photo by BankingBum | Wikimedia Commons

Once as a young patrolman, he was in a rush to leave on vacation. He lived in a student area, and he was worried about the security of his apartment. Police officers take so many home invasions reports during their career that they figure sooner or later they will become a victim as well.

The young officer was in a hurry to make his flight to paradise. He wanted to protect his department-issued firearm, and there was no time to drive it to the station, lock it in his locker and catch his flight. So, being resourceful, he decided to hide his Sig Sauer semiautomatic pistol in the broiler drawer of his oven.

He had a great vacation and caught an evening flight home a week or so later. When he arrived home, he was hungry from the day's travel. He checked the refrigerator and found it bare. He checked the freezer and found a frozen pizza.

I once got advice from a party storeowner up north named "Lucky" who walked with a Harley limp and spoke in a deep gruff voice. He warned me, "Ya gotta preheat your oven to 400 degrees, otherwise a pizza will be crap!" Sound advice for preparing frozen pizza.

I’m not sure if the young officer ever met Lucky or just read the pizza box, but either way he started preheating the oven to 400 degrees as he unpacked.

He was in his bedroom unpacking when suddenly there was a loud KA-BANG! The explosion probably reminded him immediately where he had hidden his gun. He ran to the kitchen and found that several of the rounds in the magazine of his gun had heated and exploded. The gun fragmented like a grenade inside the oven. No one was hurt, but the gun was destroyed.

The officer reported the incident to a command officer. He turned in all the pieces of his gun to the department Firearms Coordinator who kept it as a "learning aid" for other officers. The officer was counseled and issued a new firearm, but felt terrible about the mishap. He was an exemplary officer who prided himself in being the best, and he had made a serious mistake.

An incident like that can not be kept secret in a police station. The officer’s next shift briefing would be like a group therapy session. All the officers on the shift would support the officer in his time of strife — NOT!

The officer who makes a mistake — and all officers make mistakes in their career — is in for a lot of briefing humor at his expense. It is in police terms their "day in the barrel," where every one pokes fun at the errant officer.

This officer had to endure many jokes at his expense, but he knew the drill and endured the jabs in good spirit. One of the officers, who will retire next week, diabolically crafted the funniest jab using a label maker.

That officer placed a label on the flat or butt end of his gun’s magazine. The label read "OVEN SAFE TO 350 DEGREES." As I recall the labels caught on, and half the shift had placed them on their guns. I can't imagine what citizens must have thought if they read the label, but they were worn for several days.

The Ann Arbor Police Department learns from its mistakes, and I am proud to relate that no officer has over baked his firearm since that unfortunate incident.

Lock it up, don't leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for He also serves as the Crime Stoppers coordinator for Washtenaw County.



Sat, Dec 31, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Great story Rich, What is a day of work, any work, where you can't have a little fun jabbed at you or you being the executer of the jabs. The sticker of "safe to 350 degrees is the best! As a construction guy all my life we had our own boo boos that are still talked about 30 years later depending on the severity of the outcome. Laughing with and at ourselves makes for a great way to wake up and go about the day. You put a grin on my chin and it's not even 7am.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

Funny story, thanks for putting a smile on my face. Sounds like the officer, and his co-workers had a great laugh, too! Everyone makes mistakes, myself thieves will probably be checking broiler drawers for valuables to steal! LOL


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Not if that oven is on 400 I won't.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

this is a close story to a scene in a movie I recently saw involving bullets on the stove. I asked my father about it as he is the gun man. It lead me to asking him about firefighters entering homes on fire that might have guns in them and what would happen as a result. Would bullets flying about hit a firefighter? anywho it is the bullet in a chamber hit with the firing pin that sends the bullets out like projectiles, otherwise bullets would probably just make a popping noise (if anything at all) and not pose much of a danger. really this cops gun in the broiler drawer didn't pose much of a danger other than getting ribbed by coworkers, the negative nellies commenting would just be negative (against cops) anyway. still that was an expensive pizza.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

@tru2blu76, I believe in laymans terms people could figure out what Iwas saying without all the technical mumbo jumbo, much like saying thing-a-ma-gig. But whatever.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

Just FYI: (1) "bullet in the chamber" is incorrect usage. A bullet is just the metallic projectile, not the entire cartridge which has a case, a primer, a powder charge and of course a bullet assembled in a precise, secure unit. (2) A live cartridge in the chamber of a modern firearm can be caused to fire just by the level of heat indicated in the article. The whole purpose of a chamber is to confine the cartridge and let the expanding gases from the combusted powder push the bullet (projectile) out through the barrel at high speed - giving the bullet high kinetic energy. In other words: high heat can cause a loaded gun to fire with the same result as pulling the trigger. That would endanger anyone in the vicinity. (3) Throwing live metallic cartridges in a fire will cause them to explode forcefully. The brass case ruptures and becomes shrapnel - like a small grenade but much less dangerous than a bullet fired from a gun. Such flying brass fragments could "put your eye out" or embed in flesh but probably won't be fatal. No surprise: the larger the cartridge, the bigger the explosion and consequent danger.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

Rich, You made my day..we all need a laugh and this goes to show that laughter is great medicine. Thanks! Hope to see you at our reunion this year! Love reading your column!


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

Seems like if the department is going to require officers to keep their weapons at home, they should at least loan them a small safe...


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Eh, is it just me or did this officer commit another no-no not mentioned? I mean: When leaving any gun at home - it should never be left with rounds (aka, "ammunition" - NEVER "bullets") either in the chamber or in a magazine. Ammo should always be stored in safe places - separately from the gun - in such circumstances. Personally - I have always taken my guns apart before leaving for vacation: then hide the parts AND ammunition in different locations. Now days, most states recognize the concealed pistol licenses of other states, so leaving your sidearm at home isn't often necessary. Rookie or not - any cop who can't disassemble his service pistol isn't up to snuff, IMO. Revolvers are a special problem in that regard, but this officer had a Sig Sauer semi-auto pistol: piece of cake to take those apart. Regarding kids in the house and the threat of home invasion: gun safes are good for when the parents / gun owners are not able to be present. But - the threat of home invasion makes that idea almost ridiculous. The more effective safety measure is to always have the gun on one's person. I know of households where both the mother and father carry their pistols throughout the day. Again: today's concealed carry holsters and guns make this easier than in the past - but that's why they call such developments: advancements.


Tue, Jan 3, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

You rock!!!!!!!!!1

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

the operative words are "police officer" he was trained to know better.


Fri, Dec 30, 2011 : 6:21 a.m.

The operative words in the story are "young" "rush" "hurry" and "young." Accidents happen, luckily no one was injured.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

you make an excellent point about leaving the gun loaded while going on vacation. One would hope a trained police officer would know better. That would rank with a fireman taking the battery out of his smoke alarm or leaving a candle burning when he went to bed.

Bob Bethune

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Just to add a little science to the story: the ignition point of nitrocellulose, the major ingredient in modern gunpowder, is about 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Nitrocellulose is not the only ingredient; different mixtures have different ignition points, but the point will be somewhere around that level. So, it does seem that heating a loaded firearm to 400 degrees would be very likely to cause the ammunition to "cook off." The actual effect would depend on how the gun was loaded. If the gunpowder ignites in a cartridge that is not confined in any way, there is very little effect. The bullet pops out of the cartridge, but does not travel far, nor with much force. That's because gunpowder works by creating a large volume of rapidly expanding gas; if that gas is not confined, it merely dissipates. A firearm tightly confines the expanding gas behind the bullet in the chamber and barrel of the gun, thereby harnessing the force of the gas to propel the bullet. If the gun in this story had a round in the chamber, the round in the chamber would have fired with the same force as any other round fired from that gun. That round would have had sufficient force to exit the oven and possibly even exit the walls of the building, depending on the wall construction and materials. A wood-framed wall probably would have been penetrated; a brick or similar masonry wall, probably not. (There are some really interesting studies available on wall penetration by common firearm and ammunition type.s) The rounds in the magazine, however, would not have been as tightly confined; the magazine and the handgrips would not confine them anywhere nearly as tightly as the chamber of the gun confines a cartridge. They probably would have wrecked the magazine, the handgrips and damaged the frame of the gun, but would not have generated anything like full velocity on the bullets. The oven, being metal, might well have contained them or nearly so.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

interesting stuff Bob, thanks for the post


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

When do they teach cops gun safety, after a few years on the job? That was a moronoic thing to do, and the fact that it happened doesn't shine well on the standards at the academy. Thankfully no one was hurt.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

Grinch. If you can bake your weapon just don't do it on the broiler section. Great fun story to relate to your grandchildren when they ask, "granddad? Did you ever fire your gun as a police officer?"

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

Never been young and dumb? If not, you are the first ever and a true treasure.


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

I've never heard of a gun safety class that covers the cooking of firearms. That would be - "moronoic".


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

Great story, Rich! I guess I can *warm* my pistol in the oven, but I shouldn't try to cook it past medium rare.

Jim Pryce

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

I had a story related to me this fall while teaching Hunter Education. A lady taking the class, told us that she had placed her husbands wet jacket in the dryer, & a couple of shotgun shells were still in the pocket.


Tue, Jan 3, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Wow, that's informative and interesting. Thanks. You rock!!!


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Great story-thanks for the morning smile!


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

Wonder what it did to the oven?