On August 10, Lance Corporal Cody Scott Shoenfelder died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at Marine Barracks, Washington DC.  DC Police and the Marine Corps are now investigating whether or not Shoenfelder was killed while playing the “trust game,” apparently due to the fact that another Marine was present when Shoenfelder shot himself.

So far the situation is under investigation, though the media seems convinced that this shooting was due to the “trust game,” a foolish pastime engaged in by some Marines in the past.  In the “trust game,” one Marine loads a pistol, takes the magazine out of battery (pressing the magazine release so that while the mag is still inserted in the weapon, it is not fully seated), then racks the slide, ejecting the round in the chamber.  He then points the weapon at another Marine and asks, “Do you trust me?”  If the answer is yes, he squeezes the trigger.  In 2009, Cpl Matthew Nelson was sentenced to 8 years in prison for killing LCpl Patrick Malone in the “trust game.”  At least two other fatalities are believed to be connected to this game.

Opposing Views describes the “trust game” as “a well-known trust building exercise among members of the armed services.”  This is bad wording at best; not only has the Marine Corps widely condemned the practice, but it is in blatant violation of every weapons safety rule drummed into Marines from boot camp:

1) Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.

2) Never allow your muzzle to cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

3) Keep your finger straight and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.

4) Keep your weapon on safe until you are up on target with intention to shoot.

That said, while every media story on this death is floating the speculation that it was because of the “trust game,” there so far has been no solid confirmation that this is indeed what happened.  The Marine Corps isn’t talking and the investigation is ongoing.