I recently attended my local training/certification session to obtain my CCW permit. That I’ve made it so far in this liberal SF Bay Area county is a story in itself, but it’s one for another day. This story, though, is about one of the other class attendees. We’ll call him Jack. Jack Wagon . . .
There were only four attendees at the class. I was the only female and decades behind the other three in firearms experience. The classroom portion contained the basic firearms safety and Cali gun law review that you’d expect, so let’s fast forward to the shooting qualification.
The instructor was in the indoor range qualifying a couple of people to add firearms to their permits. Yes, in my county we have to list the specific weapons we’ll be carrying concealed, qualify with them and have them listed on our permits. And we’re limited to a grand total of two firearms on each concealed carry license. I’m not sure that restricting the number of weapons on the permit is even permissible under California law, but I’ll leaving that issue for another time.
Two of the other attendees and I were hanging out in the waiting area when two things happened simultaneously – there was a very loud BANG and something hit my leg.
Before I go any further, let me assure you that I did, indeed, survive the experience. No ghost-writing here. Although being able to literally ghost-write would be more than a little cool.
Before determining the state of my leg, I looked in the direction of the sound to assess the threat. The bang came from the direction of the attendee sitting at the table. It was Jack. Mr. Jack Wagon had his pistol in his hand, pointed, thankfully, at the floor.
Quick leg check: not even a hole in my jeans, so I’m okay. Look back to Jack. Mr. Wagon is now trying frantically to remove the magazine from his pistol but has apparently forgotten how. That’s when the range master comes running down the hall and tells Jack to put the gun down. Then he tells him again. And tells him a third time, his voice getting sharper with each repetition.
Jack Wagon is really starting to lose it now, still trying to get that magazine out of his pistol. And the muzzle’s starting to move in my general direction, so I move away. Fast. Yeah, I should have done that sooner, but my gut reaction was, with all his firearms experience, Mr. Wagon would have enough sense enough to put the gun down and follow the range master’s instructions, right? Silly me.
After being told to put the gun down a fourth time, Jack finally lays it down and he and his weapon are swiftly removed from the area by the range master.
I’ve read plenty of comments here at TTAG and at other firearms forums about people doing stupid things at firing ranges. But it took this incident to discover that I had been operating under a number of dangerously wrong preconceived notions: 1) that the only people doing stupid things were inexperienced with firearms, 2) that the people doing stupid things were new to firing ranges and/or 3) that the stupid things they did were only done on the range itself.
I hope this cautionary tale serves as a warning that, when it comes to stupid people doing stupid things with guns you should make no assumptions. And for your own safety, purge your mind of any preconceived notions. That’s going to take a little time and effort, but next time you’re at the range or anywhere else where you’re around other people and firearms, pay attention to the things you automatically notice and — more important — the things you automatically dismiss.
Think about what you’d tell someone who’s new to the range/event/whatever in terms of hazards to watch out for. I suspect that for many of you such an exercise would be a real eye-opener as to what you dismiss without a second thought.
For instance, one of the other attendees standing near me was the most experienced of the group, yet even he didn’t notice Jack Wagon taking his pistol out. Thought he did see – and I didn’t – that during the entire time that Jack was fumbling around, trying to remove the mag, his finger was still on the trigger. So there’s another assumption to watch out for – that the jackwagon doing idiotic things is finished being lethally stupid once the gun goes bang.
In discussing the incident with the other attendees after Wagon was ejected, we noted a number of things that should have tipped us off about him. Chief among them was his attitude towards the whole training and certification process. The class was posted as running from 8 am to 3 pm, yet Jack told the instructor at the start that he wanted to be out of there by 11 am. And he already knew all the classroom material, so couldn’t we just skip right to the shooting?
In hindsight, a number of comments and questions during the classroom portion should have ID’d him as, well, a jackwagon. Including how, during the introductory portion when I described my (lack of) firearms experience, Wagon was quick to note that he didn’t want to stand next to me at the range.
So it’s with great satisfaction that I’m able to report that, while Jack was removed from the range and denied certification, I passed. And that Wagon will only ever get a permit in this county if he changes his name and chooses a certification instructor who doesn’t know the one we had. And maybe not even then. And I feel safer knowing that.