According to co.dakota.mn.us, 26-year-old Derrick Wallace Dahl [above] picked up an unloaded .45, pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger. Except the gun wasn’t unloaded. And his friend Ben Hanson is now dead. The DA’s charged Dahl one count each of manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm, intentionally pointing a gun at another and recklessly handling a gun. The Minnesotan’s defense? Ignorance. Profound ignorance. Here’s the pitch from the criminal complaint . . .
In a subsequent statement, Dahl explained that this was the first time that he had ever handled a gun, and he did not know about guns. He said that all three of them had earlier been pointing the empty guns at each other, just playing around.
Dahl explained that he saw The witness take the magazine out of the gun, later identified as the Kimber semi-automatic handgun, and remove a bullet from the chamber of the gun. Dahl saw The witness place the bullet back into the magazine and the magazine and gun had been set on the counter.
Dahl went on to say that he was looking in a cabinet and then returned to the gun identified as the Kimber handgun. He picked up the gun, cocked it, and pointed it at Ben Hanson. Dahl stated that he pulled the trigger and the gun fired, hitting Ben Hanson. Dahl stated that it was an accident, and he did not know that that gun got reloaded.
Dahl didn’t own any of the guns involved in the pass the parcel game. (If he had that would’ve damaged his defense.) It’s not reported who owns the weapons and/or made them available to the group. Their possible intoxication is also unstated.
As the victim is reported to be from nearby Welch, MN, the shooter from Apple Valley, the incident occurred at a home in Burnsville (where all the guns were stored), and the complaint describes the unnamed witness clearing the gun used in the shooting. Do the math.
The death serves as a stark warning to follow the safety basics. First, always safety check any gun you touch when you first touch it. No matter what. Second, always safety check any gun you hand to someone else before you hand it to someone else.
At the same time (equal “first”), always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction. Second, always assume that the person receiving your gun is going to pull the trigger. It’s what people do. Tell them, “point the gun over there and nowhere else, OK?” Make sure they agree. Hand the gun to them pointing in a safe direction. And then be prepared to grab it.
And don’t forget not to hand your guns to someone else. Why take that risk? I know: paranoid much? Yes. When it comes to gun safety, there’s no such thing as being too paranoid.