webley revolver
Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bill Frady

In 1976, my family had moved across the state. I’d left all of my friends behind. In December of that year I had the chance to go back for the Christmas holidays and spend a week at my best buddy’s house. We’ll call him T. We’d planned and plotted what we’d do when we got together. We knew it was going to be a week to remember. I had no idea how right we were . . .

T’s dad had taught us to clean his handguns. We were both well versed in the sequence: clear, disassemble, reassemble, test, load and put away. We needed money for the movies. So we jumped at his father’s offer to pay us to clean his firearms. T was going to clean the Luger. I was working on a Webley revolver.

As you may know, a Webley breaks at the back. The whole front assembly tips forward. So there was no real breakdown involved, just a simple opening and cleaning. It was a pretty quick process. I did my thing and then headed to the bathroom to answer nature’s call.

T came into the room. Seeing a cleaned gun and rounds laying on the bed, he presumed I was done. As I recall, there were only four rounds. T loaded them, closed the gun and put it back down pretty much where I’d left it.

We had a whole lot of serious bike riding and driver’s license fantasizing to do. We were both eager to get on with the day. When I got back from the bathroom, I sat down on the bed and picked up the revolver. I could hear T headed towards the room. I didn’t notice that the small pile of ammo was no longer there.

And then I pulled the trigger.

Hearing a firearm going off indoors without any sort of hearing protection was one the most startling experiences of my life. It’s not unlike a SWAT team’s flash-bang. I was literally stunned. It took me a few seconds to realize that T was in the room.

I had just shot him with a .38 caliber projectile at a distance of about four to five feet.

To this day I can still see the smoke from the shot hanging in the air between us in a slight circular pattern. I can still taste it too.

T didn’t fly backwards like they do in the movies. He didn’t yell out in pain. He simply said “Oh, goddam” and carefully laid down on his side. I’d fired the Webley at a slightly upward cant hitting him in the solar plexus.

My first reaction: this had to be a joke. I opened the revolver and spilled the ammo onto the bed. I saw three live rounds and one spent casing.

I didn’t know it at the time, but T had a sucking chest wound. When I pulled his shirt up in front I saw it. I expected a gaping hole. All I saw was a small oozing spot and no exit wound.

We were both in shock, but I managed to call an ambulance and T’s mother. I had to tell my best friend’s mom that I had just shot her son.

The ambulance arrived. They quickly loaded in T. At that point we are both transported; T to the hospital and me to the police station where I gave them a statement.

The officers were waiting to hear T’s condition. A blank space in their report was ultimately filled in as “accidental shooting.” If things had gone differently, they’d have written “involuntary manslaughter.”

If T had died, I don’t know how the police would have dealt with me as a 15-year-old who’d committed homicide. Thankfully I never found out. The round went in and out of his left lung and stopped just short of exiting his body. It missed his heart by a few inches.

The police were actually quite kind to me at that point. They explained that even seasoned officers broke down after shooting someone. That didn’t really blunt what was going on in my head, but they did their best and I still appreciate it to this day.

I wanted to go to the hospital and check on T. I was so distracted by this need, it completely escaped me that once I got there, I’d be face to face with his parents.

I had always admired T’s dad. He was a proud Italian. An ex-boxer. As I rounded the corner in the Intensive Care Unit, T’s mom and dad were waiting for me. I stopped short. I prepared myself for a well-deserved beating right there in the lobby of the ICU.

Instead, they embraced me, triggering my complete and total breakdown. I had realized what I’d done, but it had somehow still seemed abstract until then. T’s dad looked at me said, “OK, Chi Chi. Its OK.”

Finally, I got to see T. I’d never seen a bullet wound patient in an ICU before. It looked like they’d installed a highly intricate irrigation system in his body. There were tubes coming from every direction, all of them ending up somewhere inside T.

I visited him as many times as I could before I had to go back upstate and pretend everything was OK. Thankfully, I only had a few friends there at that time. Nobody really cared what I had done over the Christmas break.

I didn’t get another chance to sit down and hang out with T again until 2009. T and I are close friends again, but that meeting was truly one of the last great fears I have ever had to face.

Ultimately, I’ve taken responsibility for that negligent discharge. Back then, though, I blamed the gun. And that’s how I became an anti-gunner at the tender age of 15.

Click here to read part two.  

Bill Frady is the host of Lock N Load radio. 

79 COMMENTS

    • no … it is not a reasonable reaction.
      a reasonable reaction would have been to take responsibility for his
      poor gun handling which caused a negligent discharge, that hurt someone.
      analyze why it happened, and never let it happen again.
      he claimed he was well trained … but then failed to follow his training.
      it makes no more sense to become an anti-gunner after this incident,
      than it does to become an anti-automobile driver because you got in a car accident.

        • “>well trained
          >15

          yeaaaaahhh about that”

          I know some “kids” that are better trained than A LOT of adults with “training”!

          This was a GROSS mistake. Even at a gun store when the clerk clears a gun and hands it to you, first reaction should always be to clear the weapon yourself. All guns are always loaded.

      • Violation of rule #1: All guns are loaded (but only if you’ve put the gun down since personally clearing it. One never knows what someone else might have done with it while it wasn’t in your hand… EXACTLY as what happened here.)
        Violation of rule #2: Never let the muzzle cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy. It doesn’t sound as if this foolish child was quite ready to destroy his friend.
        Violation of rule #3 Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. Not done here.
        So, as always, it takes a stack up of many violations of the rules of safe handling to hurt someone carelessly with a firearm. In this case, 3 out of 4.
        “Well trained”? Perhaps, but even the well trained get careless. Sometimes they can be the worst, as familiarity breeds contempt. In this case I’d say it was just plain foolishness. But why admit to being a fool who violates all the rules, when one can just cast the blame on an object instead?

        • +1000…. my kids learned those rules when they were 5. They get punished for violating the rules even with nerf guns, rubber band guns, etc. I have them say the rules every day and we shoot bb guns before we go to school. At 15 (or any age) violation of the rules is absolutely unacceptable.

      • How is it the guns fault juat like it not a cars fault for a accident.it takes a person a living breathing person to pull the trigger.so stop blaming the guns fault .im tired of hearing its the guns fault when something like this happens.take responsibility of your stupid mistake and STOP blaming a object that takes manipulation to fire or to operate.so why not become a anti vehicle bf they can harm or kill someone. Oh wait because you probably need some sort of vehicle to around.for people like this im going to become anti dumb ass.someone that hates or dislikes stupid,dumb people.

    • Point of fact Zero safe gun handling practices. What fool would willingly disregard NRAs 3 main rules of safe gun handling. #1 always treat a firearms as if it were loaded. #2 never point a fire arm at anything you do not intend to shoot. #3 Always know your target and what is beyond.. lastly always insure your firearm is cleared before all else.

  1. No sympathy. Even as a child, I knew better than to ever point a firearm at another person or pick up a gun and not immediately check it. Obviously his father failed teaching him good firearm handling practices. Who teaches a kid to clean a firearm with cartridges next to it. It’s people like this that give the firearm community a bad name.

    • Oh I’m sure you were a veritable bastion of good sense, practicing thorough attention to detail when you were 15. Yeah.

      • It ignorant people like you (keeping it civil) who think you know me? At 15 I was more mature than I am at 60. I grew up in middle of nowhere Alaska, Without a plane or boat I didn’t go anywhere. At 15, I had a gun with me everyday. Even then, I wasn’t so stupid to point a firearm at anything I didn’t intend to shoot. It’s lower 48 mentality that leads to stupid shooting incidents like this. It’s about teaching kids responsibility, not coddling them.

    • That is right. It’s idiots like this who give the firearms community a bad name. Too, treasonous socialist
      anti-gun state legislators and deceitful crooked members of Congress who politically exploit even gun related
      accidents to push and promote their odious damnable “LBJ/KGB” style political agenda against innocent
      American gun owners! Also, the so called “useful idiots” (Comrade V.I. Lenin’s comment) who finance,
      support, and sympathize with “gun control/civilian disarmament.” It’s a vicious circle indeed.

  2. As I see it, the author was not taught gun safety, did something any 15 year old should know better not to do, and now the author expects everyone to give up their own safety for his “feeling”. Your rights end where mine begin. I have zero tolerance for terminally stupid.

    • How many things did you “teach” your kids to do, that they did nor do consistently?

      About driving, money, women, etc.?

      Unfortunately, we often learn through scars of doing the wrong thing.

      • @Specialist38, I was never taught gun safety by anyone, my parents were stout anti-gun, and I never ever picked up a weapon unloaded or loaded and pointed it at anyone. I taught my children that guns killed, there was no “redo”, the effects were devastating and the taking of life, human or animal was permanent. As adults they can make their own choices about gun ownership and the responsibility of, which by the way is the same as diving a 2 ton vehicle on the public roads. No difference.

        • Mb guns also saves lives.i pray if you’re family is ever in a life death situation somebody is close enough to save you who has a gun

        • @Mad, Been gun owner for 10 years, have CCW/LTC My kids live in Communist states where gun CCW/LTC is almost impossible to obtain. I want them to move to Texas, but alas, their lives are theirs, not mine. Thank you for your concern.

      • This author might have the scar, but I don’t think he learned a damn thing.
        If he had, this entire item would have read: “This taught me to always follow the 4 rules of safe gun handling! From that moment on I NEVER, EVER pointed a gun at someone and pulled the trigger just for the hell of it again”, instead of; “Now I’m anti gun!”.

    • “…now the author expects everyone to give up their own safety for his “feeling”.”

      How about you read part 2 before stating you know the author’s desires and intents?

  3. I swore off guns for about a year after I came home from the service. I wasn’t anti gun. I just wanted nothing to do with them. I stopped shooting and would not go hunting.

    I gradually returned to guns. But it was decades before I would hunt again.

    • I didn t get “back into” guns until I saw a hurricane aftermath in Florida and the Rodney King party in LA. That sadly convinced me we are on our own when It Goes Down.

  4. The number of commenters passing judgement without seeing part two is hilarious. It’s like TTAG is trying to start a flame war…

  5. How does he know T reloaded the gun? Did T tell him in his dying breath? Perhaps he just inferred? Or perhaps that’s the story he tells to make himself feel better about not checking that the gun was unloaded before pulling the trigger? Maybe the whole thing is a story made up for sympathy and a no-questions-asked excuse for being against an inanimate object?

      • C’mon – don’t spoil the fun. You should encourage nitwits who don’t actually read the story before commenting.

      • Yeah, after the edit time expire. I’ll fall on the sword of not reading the whole article before I comment. It does sound a little too contrived for me, but I really don’t know.

    • “How does he know T reloaded the gun? Did T tell him in his dying breath? Perhaps he just inferred?”

      The story indicated that T lived.

      “If T had died, I don’t know how the police would have dealt with me as a 15-year-old who’d committed homicide. Thankfully I never found out. The round went in and out of his left lung and stopped just short of exiting his body. It missed his heart by a few inches.”

      “I didn’t get another chance to sit down and hang out with T again until 2009. T and I are close friends again, but that meeting was truly one of the last great fears I have ever had to face.”

  6. I was a little shocked, but not surprised, when the author said the kids reloaded the guns. If I were the dad, there would be no ammo anywhere near the guns.

    When I was in 4th grade, a classmate of mine and her brother of similar age were horsing around in the living room and there were some boxes the parents had pulled out of storage. The parents were gone or in another room when the brother found a revolver in the box. Within a couple minutes, bang, and the bullet caught his sister in the lower abdomen. Don’t know the caliber, and it wasn’t a super serious wound, but she was in the hospital for 2 or 3 days.

    • When I’m done cleaning, the guns get reloaded. The rifle then goes directly to the safe and the pistol goes directly into it’s holster. Teaching it differently allows for funny business to happen between cleaning and placing the weapon in it’s proper place.

        • Same. I clear every gun before putting it into the safe, and I clear every gun upon taking it out. This is my own personal rule, on top of the usual four.

  7. how many of the basic rules did they and dad break?

    Ohh I count at the LEAST four!

    And 2 of them are in the 3 COMMANDMENTS! of firearms use…One of them is the TOP ONE TOO!

    so am I sorry for the ex’kid’ NOPE

  8. I question how the father could ave them clean guns with ammo readily available.
    Such irresponsibility hurts our rights daily.

    • “Such irresponsibility hurts our rights daily.”

      People make mistakes and there have been fools since the dawn of time. Fallibility and poor choices will always be with us. Given those facts, how would the exercise of ANY right survive with a multitude of imbeciles like you proclaiming “They’re ruining it for the rest of us!”? What are you going to do, legislate away errors and stupidity?

      Tyrants and those calling for tyranny destroy the exercise of rights. Full stop.

  9. T’s dad had fault in this situation for not continuing to closely supervise young boys with real firearms. Surprised that he was not charged with endangering children…..and manslaughter had T died. Had they been changing the oil on T’s dad’s car without proper blocking and accidently got under the car and let the jack down onto T, would he have become anti-car???? As usual inanimate objects guns take an undeserved blame for people’s careless actions.

    • StLPro2A,

      Had they been changing the oil on T’s dad’s car without proper blocking and accidently got under the car and let the jack down onto T, would he have become anti-car???

      Of course not silly, he would have become anti-blocks or anti-jacks!

    • Look at all the automatic “safety features” in modern automobiles intended to correct drivers’ errors. They aren’t there for competent, conscientious drivers. They are for the drunks, phone addicts and other idiots.

      • I’ve told my son it is better to learn to drive in an old car because you learn not to rely on technology. Even though he’s nearly 11, he does agree with me.

        • i agree and the new cars cost a hell of a lot more for maintenance once things start going wrong. Not only that all this electronic gadgetry in cars is more prone to failure (in particular with little to no warning signs of impending failure) than purely mechanical issues. This leads to accidents at times.

          I refuse to own any car with any electronic BS on it. Also the modern stuff you need expensive computer gear to be able to fix which puts it out of the range to be able to repair themselves for most unless they work as a mechanic. I have never worked as a mechanic however i have been told by a few i should have been one…. I always wanted fitting, turning and machining as a trade and be able to make the parts not just change them out.

  10. Hey my brother shot me in the FACE with a 22 blank.I was mebbe 11or 12. I could’ve been blinded. Never told my dad. I forgave him-today is his birthday coincidentally. AND I don’t give a damn who is or isn’t an “anti-gun” boy…

  11. I’m gonna be really harsh about this, mostly because lots of people won’t be, and somebody has to put a call on this. Did this happen in Florida, Illinois or Wisconsin? Idiots both. Load up a gun and walk away. Darwin award number one. Pick up gun without checking to see if it’s loaded and point it at your friend. Darwin award number two and three. Great illustration of why lowering the voting age is a nonstarter. Parents are no better. Point a firearm only at things you intend to destroy. Kind of cuts away the thin fiction that any of them were concerned about safe gun handling until someone got shot. Oops. Play stupid games win stupid prizes. Thanks for the warning about part 2. Don’t use your own ignorant accident to encourage others to violate my civil rights. I support your first amendment rights to tell your story. Respect my rights as well. I fear for the future of my Country when I remember God is just. F-K-A.

  12. Both teenagers were stupid with guns. The one that left it laying there next to some ammo, and walked away. The one who loaded it, put it down and also walked away. The one who picked it up after it had been out of his sight for a while, then pointed it and pulled the trigger.

    This would not make me anti-gun. It does reinforce my position on anti-stupid.

    • I’m a little fuzzy about what part of the cleaning process involved pulling the trigger. Even if you thought it was unloaded, it’s generally thought to be bad for revolvers to dry fire them.

  13. So you turned anti gun because you are a moron who shot your friend? Are you anti stupidity too or just anti gun?

  14. My early love affair with guns ended when I finally learned about girls. It was rekindled after my second divorce when I finally learned about women.

  15. What kind of dumbass points a gun at his friend and pulls the trigger?

    Oh that’s right. An anti-gunner.

    Glad I don’t have any of them as friends.

  16. All I can say is as a teenage boy I knew the difference between a real gun and a toy gun. I never picked up a real gun or BB gun and pointed it at a someone.

    The only gun I ever pointed at someone was a water gun. I guess I was just smarter as a child than most.

  17. You and T are both IDIOTS and neither of you should ever own a gun. It’s probably a good thing you went to the DARK SIDE, because we don’t need you fools.

  18. What decade are we talking about? The gun safety rules may have been the same in the 50s and 60s and 70s, but many people did not handle firearms safely and got a pass from the police and other safe “experts”. Fast forward to 2000 and you will see that more people have the safety bug.
    Also a 15 year old that made a mistake that did not kill or maim someone would be considered a kid in the 50s and 60s – he wouldn’t be held accountable. Even if his friend died, he would be out of jail on his 21st birthday, and all records would have been hidden.

  19. Being an anti gunner personally is much different than being anti gun politically. I applaud anyone who knows his limitations and doesn’t trust himself with a firearm(because of his temper or his drinking), but accepts others’ rights to have them. Firearms aren’t for everyone, appointing someone as firearm monitor is a bad idea and a slippery slope.

    • Very true. I got into scuba diving just for spearfishing, and the amount of things that can go wrong are so immense that when you start to think about it….don’t. Negligent discharge is far more under an individuals control than diving, and you dont hear anyone banning diving. Most people quit and dont say a word to avoid the shame, unlike anti-gunners who go on top of mountains to proclaim how big of a cuck they are.

  20. So it’s the usual. An intimate familiarity with the far less common experience makes one anti gun while the broader knowledge of which occurrences are more and less common make one pro gun.

    Im glad his friend was not killed, however this is not the guns fault. As a 15 year old at the time there is an argument to be beer made that the blame lies on whoever taught him gun safety for not teaching him adequately.

  21. T came into the room. Seeing a cleaned gun and rounds laying on the bed, he presumed I was done. As I recall, there were only four rounds. T loaded them, closed the gun and put it back down pretty much where I’d left it.

    Terrible idea. If he loaded it, he should go put it away. Take it back to dad, say it was clean and loaded. Not load it and put it back on the table during a cleaning session. Ridiculous.

    When I got back from the bathroom, I sat down on the bed and picked up the revolver. I could hear T headed towards the room. I didn’t notice that the small pile of ammo was no longer there.

    And then I pulled the trigger.

    Let’s see, Didn’t check the breach on a firearm left out. Pointed firearm at something you are not willing to destroy. Put finger on trigger when you are not ready to fire. Put finger on a trigger on a gun left out prior without checking breach.

    I couldn’t help but notice the writer said this incident made him an anti-gunner. That makes perfect sense, because a lot of times, people who make a big mistake have a problem accepting the blame for the mistake they made. They don’t want to take responsibility for it, so instead they discard it, and they take a position that it isn’t good for anyone, because it wasn’t good for them.

    Regardless, there are a lot of negative comments on this page to Bill Frady, and my advice to Bill is to… not worry about it. People read the mistakes and just speak their mind about the incident he described. I would have expected the comments to be extremely negative. And that’s ok. A lot of those are emotional gun responses, and should be expected. The good thing is, Frady learned from his mistakes, hosts a radio show about guns, apparently made amends with the consequences of his mistakes, and told his story here, so others could learn from it.

  22. EVERY gun is loaded. ALWAYS. Even and especially when you don’t think that it is loaded. It’s loaded! Realize it. Memorize it. Live it. Act like it. Make it a part of your being. IT IS LOADED.

  23. For all the folks who are so much smarter and safer than this kid, how much did you know about The Four Rules in 1976?

    I was 22yo at the time, and I’m pretty sure I’d never heard of them. Generations of young people have been trained by adults in safe gun practices for hundreds of years before The Four Rules were invented (although like inherent human rights, The Rules did always exist and were always true). And as each generation matured, they taught the next round of young folks — as such things have always been done, hopefully a bit better with each generation instead of a bit sloppier.

    In any event, this kid was “trained” when the responsible adult told him he was competent to clean the guns unsupervised — whether or not The Four Rules had been fully absorbed, or ever mentioned. It’s always better to learn from the experience of those who go before, but sometimes you have to do it yourself and hope everybody lives through it.

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