By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
If we’re going to say that we’re “responsible gun owners,” then we need to act the part. If we’re going to say that safety is a priority, then we have to act like it.
Obviously, most gun owners are, and most gun owners are concerned with safety and act the part. DUH. However, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and boy do we have some weak ones, folks.
The following are a number of recent incidents that resulted in accidental/negligent discharges, and what lessons we can infer and therefore relate said lesson to people who engage in similar behavior, in the hopes that they can rectify their carelessness and/or incompetence.
These are the rotten apples that spoil the bunch.
In Oak Harbor, Wash., an 80-year-old woman was shot while having dinner at a restaurant, according to the Whidbey News-Times. Another diner (at a nearby table) who has (more like had at this point) a concealed carry permit, took his pistol out of his holster when he sat down to eat, placing the pistol on an empty chair and covering it with a napkin. The discharge occurred when he attempted to reholster the pistol.
Luckily, the victim suffered no serious trauma beyond flesh wounds. The perpetrator was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm.
If you’re going to keep a loaded handgun, the best place for it is in a safe of some sort or in a holster, and don’t take it out unless you A.) have to use it or B.) are transferring it from the safe to the holster and vice versa.
The article doesn’t mention how discharge happened, but a common cause of such instances is a piece of clothing or something snagging the trigger upon reholstering, which is why most instructors will tell you to “look the gun back into the holster” or something to that effect.
If you can’t sit down at least semi-comfortably with your pistol and holster, you need to either adjust where you carry them or get a different pistol and holster. If your gear doesn’t work, you need different gear.
In other words, a complete failure to respect basic gun safety practices, a complete failure in basic gun handling skills, and a failure to get adequate equipment. And luckily, the victim isn’t seriously hurt.
Some morons are still leaving loaded guns where kids can get to them. You’d think people would stop doing this, and for a plethora of obvious reasons. Granted, there’s a lot of dumb things you’d think people would stop doing – changing lanes without signaling, getting ranch with chicken wings instead of bleu cheese, thinking listening to Peter Cetera is acceptable – but here we are.
In Riverside, Ohio, according to WHIO, a 3-year old boy brought his father’s pistol out of the bedroom it was located in, brought it out to the living room and started playing with it. The gun discharged, and hit the boy in the leg. The article stated that no charges were filed or arrests made at the time, but the incident was under investigation.
Just before the New Year, a 13-year-old boy found a handgun at his home in Tulsa, Okla., according to KJRH, ostensibly belonging to a parent. He took the gun to show his friends, and was playing with it. He took the magazine out, but – believing that had unloaded the gun – put it to his head and pulled the trigger. The boy, who wasn’t named by the press, died at the scene.
If you’re going to have a loaded gun around, it needs to be stored safely. If you have kids, they need to know to not touch a gun if they see one. You know how some people joke that you should have to get a license to reproduce? People who leave guns where their kids can get them are the sort that makes that seem like a good idea.
Most people know the 4 Laws Of Firearms Safety. Violating the first two are usually what gets people in trouble. Treat all guns as if they’re loaded, and keep your finger off the trigger unless you’re going to shoot.
The day after Christmas in Buna, Texas, according to 12NewsNow, a 19-year old boy took a handgun to his cousins’ house to show it off. Some names were withheld. He handed it to one of his cousins, 15-year-old James Johnson, who then handed it to a 10-year-old, who pulled the trigger. James Johnson was shot in the abdomen, and died later that night at the hospital. The deceased and the 19-year-old both stated they had handled the gun before and knew what they were doing.
In Ft. Wayne, Ind., according to WANE, a man was at a bar with friends when he took out his gun to show it to someone. His finger was apparently on the trigger and the gun discharged, with the end result being that the man shot himself in the face. He lived.
The man apparently didn’t think it was loaded.
These incidents have plenty of lessons. Most obvious is that you should always treat guns as if they’re loaded, and check for clear. Clearly, both involved huge failures in literally the first thing a person should know about gun safety.
Most of our fathers probably told us that line about what you make yourself when you assume.
It isn’t known if the man in the second incident had been drinking. We all know guns and drinking don’t mix, but it bears mentioning. And yes, yes, plenty of people will probably start in with the “well, if I only have one” argument. Ask a state trooper what they think about having one drink and driving; you might not get the libertine answer you hope for.
Obviously, the particulars of the first case aren’t entirely known, but something teachable is the role of the parent in firearms education. Drill the Four Laws into them, along with respect for the deadly potential that firearms have.
And then we have the classic pocket discharge.
They still happen! In fact, a man in York City, Penn., has been sentenced to eight years in prison, according to the York Dispatch, for accidentally shooting his daughter. Jorge Luis Rosa-Hernandez was carrying a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson in his pocket whilst enjoying the cuisine of McDonald’s with his daughter. He hitched his pants up, which snagged the trigger and caused a discharge. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt; his daughter was only grazed.
Rosa Hernandez, however, has prior felonies and thus is not legally permitted to purchase nor possess, which – along with the unlawful discharge and ancillary charges – is why he’s getting a stretch in the state Penn.
HA! See what I did th…oh, never mind.
A person could go on and on with more examples where dumb gun owners (and one person illegally carrying) made terrible errors through ignorance, negligence, and arrogance. In some cases, it resulted in mere injury. In others – well, you get it.
To be sure, the Second Amendment is not just for people who have the time and money to take dozens of hours of training per year. It’s for everyone, and that was the entire point. It is also the case that gun owners are constantly maligned in the press and elsewhere. It’s up to each of us to be better than the image of us that is portrayed, and concern for life and safety is where that starts.
Don’t act the fool, and do what you can to help others do likewise.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.