Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gun Discharges in Shop

Firearms owners are held to a very high level of accountability for safe and responsible gun handling. Those who sell firearms are not just responsible for the safe handling of firearms by employees, but also by customers. There is a right way, and a wrong way to hand a firearm off to another person. This account illustrates what happens when you do it the wrong way.

From the Star Telegram:

By Alex Branch

Man is critically wounded when gun discharges at shop

A customer at a Parker County gun shop was critically wounded Tuesday morning when a handgun discharged as a store employee examined it, authorities said.

Perry L. Cheatham, 69, of Weatherford was shot below his left eye, according to the Parker County Sheriff's Department.

Cheatham went into the Gun Store, 4410 Tin Top Road, with a friend about 10 a.m. and took a seat at the counter, authorities said. At the same time, another customer handed a 9 mm handgun to the employee for inspection.

"The store attendant told deputies that he was attempting to ensure the weapon was empty when it discharged," according to a news release from Sheriff Larry Fowler.

A helicopter ambulance took Cheatham to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where a hospital official said he remained in critical condition Monday evening. The shooting is under investigation, Fowler said.
Safe firearm handling should be second nature to any firearm owner, and an absolute requirement for a gun store employee. Did the attendant have his finger on the trigger when "he was attempting to ensure the weapon was empty..."? We do not know for sure, what we do know is that the firearm was pointed at a customer as he attempted to clear it. That fact is painfully obvious and is pretty much irrefutable. The customer was shot, the attendant was negligent, case closed.

Some of you may have questions on how to safely bring a firearm to a gun shop, smith or gun show for work or trade. Here is one way.

Before you leave your house, clear the firearm. Remove the magazine, unload the weapon, and remove the cartridges from the magazine. If you have an empty chamber indicator (flag), insert it in the chamber. If not, then lock the slide back, or remove the bolt, or open the action on your firearm. Transport the firearm to the shop or show in a case. It is my experience that shops prefer that customers enter the shop with cased firearms. Place the case on the counter and leave it closed until you are being helped by a shop employee. Each shop may have a slightly different procedure on what to do from there, so just follow the employee's lead.

Alex Branch is one of the better reporters covering incidents such as this one. Note that the word "accidental" was never used in the article.


Fits said...

As terrible as this negligence was,the silver lining is the fact that Mr. Cheathham now owns himself a gun shop. Here's wishing him a full and speedy recovery.

austin45acp said...

Great topic, thanks for posting.

Just yesterday I was at a gunstore here in Austin having a friend's Beretta Tomcat inspected.

The "manly" clerks actually snickered to each other when I used muzzle discipline when taking the weapon out of the box.

In my opinion, that's the attitude that tragedy loves.

I am hyper-vigilant with gun safety; it helps me maintain an ingrained behavior when handling weapons in ANY circumstance.

One of my mantras is "empty guns magically load themselves, SO USE MUZZLE DISCIPLINE AND CHECK A WEAPON EVERY TIME YOU TOUCH IT".

Not naming the gunstore, but I'm sure Mr. McBride would not have snickered at me. ;)