Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update on the Negligent Discharge at Temple Emanu-El

A week ago I asked you to Join in the Conversation about a negligent discharge in a synagogue, and carrying in places of worship.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Mr. Marvin Marks (81) dropped a concealed handgun during services and the firearm discharged, striking his daughters foot. Fragments of bullet/floor also struck two others. None were seriously injured.

There is an update:

By Jeffrey Weiss

Temple Emanu-El of Dallas is sending members an unusual pre-Yom Kippur message:

Please don't pack heat in the synagogue.

And by the way, the fellow who dropped his gun last week is very, very sorry.

The special letter, mailed Tuesday in advance of this weekend's High Holiday services, was a reaction to an incident that briefly made last week's Rosh Hashanah service the most famous in the nation. But not in a good way.

A 50-year member of the congregation stood for a prayer Wednesday night, and his legally concealed handgun slipped to the floor and went off. Three people were slightly injured, but the service was not interrupted.

The man with the gun, Marvin Marks, is a retired police officer. He is not to be confused with Marvin Marks, the retired furniture store owner who was sitting one row back and a few seats over and had nothing to do with the mishap.

In the letter, the armed Mr. Marks explained what happened. He said he had started to carry a concealed gun years earlier after being threatened by someone he had previously arrested. Normally, he leaves the gun in his car when he goes places where guns aren't welcome.

"On Wednesday evening, I forgot to leave it in my car. I know this is a poor excuse for bringing it into temple with me, but that is the truth," he wrote.

The gun fell out, he wrote, and although the safety was on, it fired.

Mr. Marvin Marks is 81 years old. As I stated before, he was a young man during the Holocaust and he is witnessing an increase of anti Semitism today. I assumed that he, more than most, understood the need for adequate self defence. I cut him a bit of slack for dropping his sidearm, not much, but a bit. Now we learn that he is a retired police officer. All I have to say is Mr. Marks, you know better. You know how to properly secure a firearm in it's holster, and you know how to safely carry it. Your actions not only injured your daughter, but they put others at a much greater risk.

These are the consequences of your actions:

As for the synagogue, it's putting up new signs that make it clear that concealed handguns are not welcome. The old signs excluding guns did not specifically mention legally concealed weapons, temple spokesman Dana Moffatt said.

The synagogue has posted the proper 30.06 signage that prohibits the carry of concealed weapons by CHL holders. Nice job sir. You have disarmed the law abiding amongst your congregation.

On a side note.

I wrote the original reporter and requested make and model of the firearm involved. She has not responded. But I have been told that the firearm involved was a .380, a very old Beretta. I also understand that the bullet entered the daughters foot from the top of her foot, and exited through the bottom. As the two other injured individuals were injured by fragments it appears that, and this is only speculation, the gun discharged as Mr. Marks fumbled with it as it was falling.


Fits said...

Oh good grief it figures he was a retired LEO. Another instance of "it just went off" when you tell them time and time again never to reach for a falling weapon.

JR said...

On the advice of Mr. Weissn (who promptly answered my email), I contacted the synagogue and asked that they put me in contact with Mr. Marks. We will see where this goes.

Justin said...

this is only speculation, the gun discharged as Mr. Marks fumbled with it as it was falling.

I can't think of any other manner in which it would have. One should never reach for a falling gun.

This makes me wonder. The absolute best advice I got upon buying my first gun, a CZ-75B, was to put it on the table next to me while I watched TV and pick it up every now and again. Without my finger in the trigger guard. I was instructed to do this about a thousand times until it was automatic to keep my booger hook off the bang switch. It worked.

Perhaps there's some merit in intentionally dropping a pistol (unloaded!) over and over again until you're mentally prepared to just let it fall. I might just try that.

JR said...

Hello Justin, thanks for stopping by.

I would not recommend intentionally dropping your pistol, especially over and over again. You will damage your firearm, and you will condition yourself to, well... drop your pistol. A better idea would be to practice "not" dropping your pistol. Slow motion draws and dry firing, over and over again until your muscle memory will not allow a dropped firearm.

Just a thought.