Man, 63, arrested after gun fires in movie theater, the foxnews.com headline announces. In case you were wondering the two events are related. As in the heater in the theater belonged to the sexagenarian in situ. “Police say no one was hurt when a loaded gun fell out of a man’s pants pocket in a movie theater and fired.” Two questions: can you still buy a gun that isn’t drop safe? “Police said . . .

Gholson took a .38-caliber, two-shot Derringer into a movie theater in east Memphis. The gun, which was loaded with one bullet, fell out of his pants pocket and fired the round.

Question two: do police check guns that “go off” when dropped to see if they are drop-safe (i.e. check if the clumsy owner is telling porky pies)?

Memphis police said 63-year-old George Gholson was arrested and charged Tuesday with reckless endangerment and failing to follow a posted ‘no-weapons’ notice.

Guess not.

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39 Responses to Passively Constructed Negligent Discharge Story of the Day: Drop Safe Edition

  1. *sigh* the sentence isn’t passive. “The gun fired” is active. “The gun was fired” is passive.

    It does lay the blame to the gun and imply that it operated by itself… but that’s a different thing from passive construction.

    • These “Passively Constructed” articles aren’t about grammatical sentence structure.

      They are about the headlines always ‘constructing’ the story such that the gun “goes off by itself”, which is more or less impossible in modern firearms.

      A non-passive headline would read “Man negligently discharges pistol in theater while attempting to catch it after it fell from his pocket”.

      Active negligence vs. passive accident.

      • Grammar Nazi? He’s the one who is misusing the fancy grammatical term! In his title, no less.

      • Yes! In this instance it is great.
        .
        Journalists know, or should know, the difference and the implications of the two forms.
        .
        Their use is deliberate! It is often used to promote a political agenda, as in this case.
        .

  2. I belive the older dillingers have prodruding firing pins. No trigger guard to boot.

    Yes, I know, Derringer.

  3. I know the words “common sense” get thrown around an awful lot by anti-gunners, but shouldn’t “common sense” dictate (a) only carrying a drop-safe weapon, and (b) carrying it in a holster regardless? Short of living in a literal war zone (as in Libya, not Detroit), I cannot see any situation where I’m more likely to draw in a defensive scenario than accidentally shoot someone (including myself) while pocket-carrying a gun like that. There’s a reason why the old revolvers were carried with the hammer down on an empty cylinder.

    If you can’t carry safely, then you shouldn’t carry at all.

    • I can think of a few things he might have said when this happened:

      “Hey guys! Guys! It’s Ok, that was the last bullet!”
      “Nothing to worry about guys, this happens to me all the time.”
      and last
      “Darn it! Now I’m going to have to run home to get some more ammo.”

  4. On that model derringer, and CLEARLY shown in the photo is a hammer-block safety that is employed by PUSHING THE BUTTON ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE WEAPON INWARD. It is held in place by the pressure of the hammer. It is deactivated by cocking the weapon.
    .
    The Fool (his middle name) didn’t employ the safety.
    .
    I have an American Derringer model 4 (.45Colt/.410) and always carry it with the hammer block employed with 2 x 2-1/2″ Federal 4×000 Buckshot rounds.
    .
    NEVER LOOSE IN THE PANTS POCKET!
    .
    It kicks like a mule, but you’re only going to fire it twice.
    .
    .
    .

  5. Do the police arrest someone who accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake after the person drives into a ditch?. . . . . And no one was hurt?

    • If they found the driver to be violating the law, like if they were under the influence of alcohol, if they had no driver’s license , va;lid registration or insurance, stuff like that, yes, they absolutely do arrest that driver.

    • In Tennessee, the “No Guns” sign has the force of law. Normally, it’s a “cherry on top” kind of charge in a situation like this, but you can be cited for just the weapons violation. This is the first instance I’ve read about where someone was charged with it though.

  6. “…can you still buy a gun that isn’t drop safe?”

    I thought that some of the newly-manufactured 1911s were not drop-safe. That’s one reason why I’m very careful with mine!

    • Some 1911s still use the original design, without a firing pin block.

      I’m not a 1911 expert, but the argument has been made that a FPB is unnecessary (and unwanted) on the 1911.

      Examples currently made without a FPB include non “series II” Kimbers (e.g., the Warrior), Colt 70s series, and anything built to original spec. Anything built to resemble a Colt series 80, or that uses the Swartz grip safety, has a firing pin block.

  7. All traditional two shot deringers have a rotating firing pin. It was indeed common for these to be loaded with one round only – with the firing pin in line with the empty chamber. Obviously part of this safety protocol was not followed.

  8. “Can you still buy a gun that isn’t drop safe?”

    Not everybody carries a new gun. This guy’s 63. Isn’t it possible (indeed, probable) that he’s carrying a gun he’s had for years?

  9. Does a sign in a private business in Tennessee posting “no guns” have the force of law?
    In most states a private business can post those signs all they want but they have no force
    of law behind them.

    • I know Florida is like that. Private businesses can post signs like that all day long but they don’t carry the force of law. Now, if someone in “authority” of the property asks you to leave, you must or risk being charged with Armed Tresspass – Third degree Felony.

    • The point of the signs is to provide “constructive notice”, so that private property owners aren’t encumbered with having to personally notify each and every person individually. The point of standardizing such signs’ format is to ensure that the notice is clear and consistent and conveys the proper message. By not affording Florida property owners with this force of law signage tool via legislation, Florida substantially burdens their businesses with the distraction of incessant individual notifications and foregoing business owners’ property right to exclude firearms as owners see fit.

    • Even in states like Texas, where we do have formally defined official, legal firearms-banning signs, you don’t want to get too cute with a business that posts a noncomplying sign.

      While it’s true that businesses which are not statutorily gun free zones must post a complying sign in order to have the “force of law”, ultimately that just means paper law. In the real world, even if a business has some dinky little “ghostbusters” sign with a revolver in a circle with a red diagonal line through it, which doesn’t have the “force of law”, you could still be in trouble for carrying there. All it takes is for someone to call the cops and the cop either not know or not care about the law. Or he’s close to the end of his shift and figures he’ll just arrest you for trespassing and let the judge sort it out.

      Now you have an arrest on your record. Now you have to post bail. Now you have to hire a lawyer. Now your license is suspened while it’s all worked out. Now you’re unarmed for months. Now you have to miss work to attend court dates. When your trial day finally comes, the judge dismisses the case. Yay, you won! Yay…..

      • I’d like to see a link to that EVER happening in TX. Cops I have run into are extremely aware of the provisions of the CHL law, and most don’t seem inclined to even care about a citizen carrying. The concept of one just arresting someone because he’s near the end of his shift is unnecessarily insulting.

        • I agree, lazy cops are an insult to you, me, Texas and the entire law enforcement profession.

          I don’t believe there has been a case yet of someone arrested either for violating a nonconforming no guns sign, or for violating a perfect 30.06 sign where the poster lacked legal authority to post such a sign (like a local municipality preempted by state law).
          So what exactly is your point? That all cops know all laws and abide by them all of the time and never take shortcuts? Or that all laws are sufficiently clear, enabling people to comply without variation? Or that the expression “You may beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride” just sprang up out of pure imagination with zero basis in reality? If any of those were true, then cases would never be dismissed on those grounds, nor would test cases ever proceed. I’ve spoken with cops who are mistaken about aspects of general day-to-day law, including firearms law. Sometimes, their errors are in citizens’ favor! They’re still mistaken, though. So now what to argue? Your anectdote can beat up my anectdote?

          All I’m advising is that one should realize up front that ambiguities and ignorance do exist within the criminal justice system, and to take that into consideration regarding your conduct. That really shouldn’t be all that controversial a stance, but if you want to go be a test case, have at it.

    • Dan, in TN any sign stating “No Firearms” carries the force of law. There is no stipulated sign, like TX’s 30.06. Any sign will do.

  10. I know in SC the sign must meet specific criteria to carry force of law:size, font, distance from ground, etc.

    Some states any sign is good enough, sounds like this may be the case

  11. WTF, how can a piece that you have go bang???? You just can’t be that stupid! If you carry, you better controll that fvcking gun our your ass is in jail! Jeeze it is tough enough to gain the right to carry and have these idiots carry and fvck everything up, shit man. All I have to say on this subject!

  12. Sorry, but the shaky camera in the video was bad enough, but when he described it as a “Cobra De-Ringer” I’d had enough.

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