Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Marshall County (WV) Sheriff’s Department

Previously, on Who Wants to Wear Flame-Proof Trousers, TTAG received major heat for naming the Lino Lakes police department our Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day. Seems we failed to consider the possibility that a handgun caliber bullet could ricochet backwards from a recently cleared firing range and pierce the epidermis of an officer on the line. Who knew? But some things are entirely predictable and completely irresponsible. Like what happens when a police department lets officers repair firearms in the comfort of their own home. Unsupervised. Late at night. Without specific guidelines. The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register reports . . .

[Marshall County, West Virginia] Deputies Rodney Sleeth and Mike Dougherty were repairing firearms Tuesday at Dougherty’s home, which contains a gun shop that he uses in his spare time. The deputies are armorers and were working to repair department-owned firearms when a firearm discharged. The deputies were preparing to begin a midnight shift when the incident occurred.

Sleeth suffered a wound to his hand, while Dougherty suffered a wound to his hand and his left hip just below his belt line. Sleeth was treated and released from Wheeling Hospital before returning for additional treatment Tuesday. Dougherty had surgery Tuesday to treat his injuries, details of which were not disclosed. Both deputies are expected to make full recoveries.

Ah, yes, “a firearm discharged.” Did Sleeth shoot Dougherty or did Dougherty shoot Sleeth? ‘Cause someone shot someone. Once again, the media and the men responsible for irresponsible gun handling obfuscate and sugar-coat a negligent discharge—the same sort of “accident” which would get a civilian into all kinds of trouble.

Whether it’s a union or lawyer-shaped muzzle, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department is staying stum, pending this, that and the other thing. Meanwhile, more forthright observers might wonder if it’s a good idea for Deputies to maintain their firearms in the comfort of their own home—at least not without defining the exact type, method and frequency of the task.

The Marshall County po-po doesn’t see it that way . . .

[Marshall County Sheriff John] Gruzinskas said while he did not expect any major action to be taken regarding the maintenance of firearms and the location in which that maintenance is performed, new policies may be implemented regarding the role of armorers and range officers within the department. He added while general polices exist for how weapons are dealt with, there are no policies for the performance of those jobs.

“We don’t have that policy because we never knew we would have to address an issue like this,” he said.

Who’d a thunk it? Not Chief Deputy Kevin Cecil, who told The Intelligencer that his department would continue to use Dougherty’s home for firearms repairs and maintenance—once Dougherty recovers from his injuries.

The Chief Dep reckons his officer’s crib is a “controlled environment designed for that work” that’s “as safe a place as any for such maintenance work to be conducted.” Never mind those noisy kids or nagging wife.

That’s pure conjecture, obviously. One thing we know for certain: Marshall County Chief Deputy Cecil lives in an irony-free zone:

“The only people that are allowed to work on firearms are those that have the proper training,” Cecil said. “They are much further trained on the inner-workings of a gun, such as the trigger mechanisms and the internal parts. It isn’t a situation where they are just laying it on the ground and tearing it apart. They know what they are doing.”

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    Do you still insist that cops are lousy shots?

    1. avatar Derek says:

      +1
      That guy got 2-for-1.

    2. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

      I was wrong, they don’t always miss.

  2. “They know what they are doing.”

    Except for that part about unloading the gun before you work on it.

  3. avatar Eric S. says:

    Echoing Zimmerman, I think the first step of all firearm maintenance procedures is to clear/unload.

  4. avatar Magoo says:

    RF says: “Ah, yes, “a firearm discharged.” Did Sleeth shoot Dougherty or did Dougherty shoot Sleeth? ‘Cause someone shot someone. Once again, the media and the men responsible for irresponsible gun handling obfuscate and sugar-coat a negligent discharge—the same sort of “accident” which would get a civilian into all kinds of trouble.”

    The traditional and proper journalistic practice is to state the firearm “discharged” or “fired.” Now, you and I know it most likely fired because someone pulled the trigger, but we weren’t there. It is possible, however less likely, that the gun was damaged, modified, or dropped. Or someone was working on it, hmm. A reporter must restrict his statements to what is known. When he says the gun “discharged,” he ain’t lyin’. You stepped out of bounds with your previous story, which is how you got in trouble.

    Where this reporter dropped the ball, arguably, is in not asking why a deputy was attempting to perform work on a loaded firearm. But then, I don’t have to live in that town, so I’m not going to judge.

    Meanwhile, it’s silly to blame the myth of self-discharging firearms on the media. This myth is perpetrated by the operators of firearms, which certainly includes law enforcement. The media is only reporting — that is, repeating verbatim — the dubious assertions of the gun users. Place the blame where it belongs and stop shooting the messenger.

    1. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

      Now you’re being a little silly Magoo because EVERYONE here knows that one of these fools pulled the trigger. We didn’t have to be there to know that these morons screwed up really bad.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      “it most likely fired because someone pulled the trigger”

      Most likely? Who’s being disingenuous now?

      1. avatar Magoo says:

        Would you prefer “in all probability”? Whatever; that’s not important. When a gun fires, it’s generally because the trigger was pulled. That’s a fact. However, rare as it is, guns can malfunction. That’s a fact, too.

        I’m surprised at you, Ralph. Lawyers beyond number have established in courts of law that guns discharge by themselves. Are you saying lawyers might shade the truth? How disappointing.

        1. avatar ihatetrees says:

          However, rare as it is, guns can malfunction. That’s a fact, too.

          Yeah. Billyun to 1 odds that if any investigation is done we
          a) won’t here about it OR
          b) it will be ‘inconclusive’ regarding the ‘defect’ that ’caused’ the discharge.

          Lawyers beyond number have established in courts of law that guns discharge by themselves.

          No. Lawyers beyond number have often convinced 12 morons that guns discharge by themselves. And that cars can accelerate uncontrollably. And that vaccines cause Down’s Syndrome.

          Science disagrees.

        2. avatar Magoo says:

          That’s all fine but newspapers need to defend themselves against legal actions, among other things.

        3. avatar Ralph says:

          Two guys got shot in their hands. Unless they were holding hands while singing Kumbaya and the gun “just went off,” I’m thinking someone pulled the trigger.

          Are you saying lawyers might shade the truth?

          Magoo, when I was practicing, I could usually furnish reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee. For an unreasonable fee, I’d shade the truth so much you’d think it was on the dark side of the moon.

        4. avatar guido says:

          Ok, so guns malfunction. The point is you don’t work on it when it’s loaded. And unloaded guns don’t fire (guns you *think* are unloaded may fire, but that’s something else entirely). Don’t cloud the issue fighting about whether the journos ought to say “someone pulled the trigger” or not, the point is they were working on a weapon they didn’t properly clear. Period.

    3. avatar Sid says:

      The previous issue of the Lino Lakes PD was a BS cover story. The reply from the LLPD was that a bullet magically ricocheted directly back into a police officer from the range berm with enough force to cause the injury. They offer nothing in the way of evidence that suddenly and without warning the laws of gravity and physics were suddenly suspended.

      Now, we are asked to believe that a weapon having maintenance performed on it discharged of its own free will. Two dufi (is that the plural of dufus) were performing maintenance on a loaded weapon? A loaded weapon. And it just went off?

      BS.

    1. That’s a real tight ship they’re running there in Marshall County.

      I guess it’s standard procedure to leave evidence sitting on Deputy Dawg’s desk until he gets back from jawing with ol’ Sam Drucker down to the general store.

      1. avatar Varmint Hunter says:

        OR he could’ve just sold it to ol’ Sam Drucker and concocted a theft story.

  5. avatar ihatetrees says:

    In Marshall County, what happens to the Little People when they have a negligent discharge?
    Do they lose their hunting/CCW permits? Are their firearms confiscated?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      what happens to the Little People

      They’re castrated. Marshall is one tough county if you’re a dwarf.

    2. avatar John says:

      What about insurance? Since this happened on private property does the county (tax payers) pick up the tab? Damages to the private property? Law suits? Talk about precidence!

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