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Casual familiarity breeds negligent discharges

January 21, 2013

Guns Save Life Secretary Bonnie Garrett.

[Editor:  It's time to bring this one out of the archive and re-post it.  Bonnie was spot on when she wrote this and given that there were three negligent discharges as part of Gun Appreciation Day events nationwide, it's time to revisit it.]

By Bonnie Garrett

The first weekend in June my sister and I had the pleasure of attending the Indy 1500 gun show in Indianapolis for Guns Save Life.  We drummed up some good publicity for the organization and a good time was had by all.

This was the second gun show I’ve attended this year, and the second time there’s been a negligent discharge.

The first occurrence was, of course, in Bloomington, which was nothing short of a tragedy.  Two people were seriously injured and lives have been altered by that single event.  With the facts that we have, it still makes us wonder how on earth did that incident even happen.

This time, we know exactly what happened right after the incident.

In my opinion, event management handled it well.  Shortly after the shot was fired, management gave an announcement over the intercom detailing what happened and letting us know the dealer who fired the shot was banned for life.

You see, the dealer in question had his own loaded sidearm, despite the prohibition of loaded guns at the show.  He apparently was showing someone how to field strip a Glock and in trying to dismantle it, he shot himself in the hand.

We had all already been told that no loaded firearms were allowed in the building.  The policy was zero tolerance.  You get caught with a loaded gun, you are gone.  We were told this many times over the weekend.  Easy enough, I thought.

Some might say the situation wasn’t all that bad.  After all, despite nearly hitting his infant son and pregnant wife, the only person injured was Mr. Negligent Dealer.

But as it is, I was and still am deeply disturbed, and this is why:  How could I possibly go to work on Monday and tell my already gun-shy coworkers, “Yep, there was another person shot at the gun show this weekend.  Say, are you ready to let me teach you how to shoot yet?”

I’m embarrassed.  We gun owners take great pride in pointing out that the people using guns inappropriately are the criminals, not us law-abiding citizens.  But perhaps we all need to reevaluate that notion.  Despite the historically low firearm accident rates today, perhaps we all need to revisit basic firearm safety rules for the umpteenth time.

They say familiarity breeds contempt and it’s true as evidenced by a young dealer near our booth we talked with all weekend.  On Sunday, he came over carrying a pistol he was selling, finger on the trigger.  I called him out on it and his response was a shrug and, “I’m around unloaded guns all the time…”

I wanted to scream at him, but instead I pointed out that the guy who shot himself on Friday was probably around unloaded guns all the time too.  All I got was another shrug.

“It’s always a dealer,” I had been told by another dealer right after the Friday gunshot and he was right.  Those who handle guns the most sometimes are the most lax about safety.

It’s up to all of us individually to make sure we don’t fall into that trap.  No skipping a step in the safety check.  Keep the muzzle in a safe direction, and for crying out loud, no pulling triggers just for kicks!

Gun enthusiasts work hard to educate people that shooting sports are safe and fun.  Let’s make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot while we’re promoting the benefits of gun ownership.

9 comments on “Casual familiarity breeds negligent discharges

  1. Maybe unloaded guns are the problem. If guns were always loaded, maybe stupid people wouldn’t pull triggers.

  2. JoeFromSidney on said:

    The one sound you don’t want to hear at a gun show is BANG! Nevertheless, I have mixed feelings about the ban on loaded guns at gun shows. Yes, it eliminates the possibility of negligent discharges. On the other hand, those of us who carry concealed everywhere that it’s legal to do so, are concerned about the bad example it sets. “If your fellow gun nuts won’t let you carry at a gun show, why should I let you carry in my store/movie theater/restaurant? Concealed means concealed. If you carry a loaded, concealed firearm in other venues, I see no reason not to allow you to carry the same way at a gun show. Again, CONCEALED MEANS CONCEALED!

  3. Wonder where the gun shows are at? Here in Arizona I bet i’ve bee to close to a hundred gun shows and have never seen a NDC

  4. Horse hockey

    I have been to hundreds of shows in my and surrounding states over a period of 40 years and never witnessed a NDC. To question the author further, for the last fifteen years all of the shows in the Ohio area require zip-ties.

    Me thinks this writer is a ringer.

    • Mike the Limey on said:

      You think the GSL secretary is a ringer?

      What does Ohio have to do with Indianapolis?

      Methinks your tinfoil hat may be a tad tight. ;-)

      • Zip ties can be cut… Put them on at the door and cut them off at the booth… What could go wrong? Everything. No ringers here, Just solid truth and opinions.

  5. I can assure you Bonnie is no ringer.

    But she did have some bad luck.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbBzKpL4n44

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/03/robert-farago/why-is-the-atf-investigating-gun-show-negligent-discharge/

    Those are the links for what happened in Bloomington.

  6. Mike the Limey on said:

    There were THREE, not five ND’s at gun shows on Saturday, with five injuries.
    Please don’t do the anti’s work for them by making bad things appear even worse than they are.
    In all thee cases those handling the firearm that discharged broke all three out of the four basic rules for the safe handling of firearms that applied to their situation.