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NBC News reports on a Lake Barrington, Illinois man (it’s not clear whether or not he’s ever lived in Florida) who told cops he was dreaming when he fired a shot in his sleep, wounding himself in the leg. This 62-year-old’s fanciful claims seem more than a little difficult to believe. Even taking him at his word, it seems like a(nother) good reason not to sleep with a gun under your pillow.

Here’s the story as reported nationally by NBC News . . .

An Illinois man who police say shot himself in the leg while he was dreaming about burglars has been charged with firearms offenses, officials said Tuesday.

The 62-year-old Lake Barrington man survived the accidental April shooting, and no one else was hurt, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.

He was charged with possessing a firearm with a revoked Firearm Owners Identification, which is required in Illinois, and reckless discharge of a firearm, the sheriff’s office said in a statement…

The shooting happened about 9:50 p.m. April 10, and first responders needed to use a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, the sheriff’s office said.

The man “had a dream that someone was breaking into his home” and fired a .357-caliber revolver, it said. The bullet went into the bed, it said.

I’ve handled a lot of guns in my time, but I’ve never “sleep handled” any of them, even while having one on my hip while I dozed. What’s more, I’ve certainly never fired off a negligent round while dreaming (or any other time). Besides, if someone is dreaming, it seems logical to think they wouldn’t shoot themself in the leg.

No, this sounds like an ill-conceived story used to cover up a negligent discharge. One that the mainstream media will cheerfully sensationalize to “prove” their narrative that the average Joe can’t be trusted with firearms.

I’ve slept plenty of times while wearing my carry gun(s) on some unusual occasions where I slept in my clothes. Yes, I wear a holster (Bravo Concealment some days, and a Blade-Tech Phantom on most other days) that’s more than comfortable. That’s happened in some sketchy situations like a night spent in craptastic EconoLodge motel in Decatur, Alabama.

Here’s the letter I sent to Choice Hotels in the days afterwards…which was returned five months later with no forwarding address.

August 3, 2021

Attn: Guest Relations Service Center
6811 East Mayo Blvd, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85054

Dear Choice:

My lovely bride Wendy Boch (I believe she’s a member of your club under 815 XXX-XXXX) chose one of your facilities on our trip down to Florida for our vacation on July 24th. We stayed at the Econolodge in Decatur, AL. We stayed with our twin 2-year-old boys.

We suspected something wasn’t kosher when we drove around back to our room.  Shady characters were loitering in the parking lot, and a couple of “ladies of the night” (later, they called one another “crack whores”) were hanging out in the open doors to their rooms listening to loud music. This was at just after midnight. One nice lady apologized for playing loud “redneck music,” but the music was the least of our concerns.

Once in the room, we were treated to the smell of sewer gas from an improperly vented plumbing system.  When my wife went to turn on the air conditioning, the filthy front of the unit fell off onto her ankles and feet revealing a mold or mildew-loaded, chock full-o-filth AC unit.  Oh, did I mention the sink had no stopper, so we got a nice view of the filth in the drain?  Outlets didn’t work, the tub was disgusting (the only thing missing was leftover pubic hairs from the previous occupant), and it looked like a crime scene on the walls (and mirror). 

After watching some shady looking characters checking out our newer SUV, I opted to stay up and watch it for the first half-hour we were there, until police showed up following a catfight between those “ladies of the night” sans “customers.” 

If it hadn’t been for a lack of available rooms elsewhere nearby and our complete exhaustion from a long day of traveling, we would have bailed before unloading the car once we saw the room. We left sans showers or anything else at first light.

Image by Boch.
Image by Boch.
Image by Boch.

We picked this facility because of your company’s reputation. I told my wife I would write and get your thoughts on this before she shares photos on her social media accounts.

Yeah, you can rest assured that we’ll never stay at another EconoLodge again.  In fact, we sidestepped your entire chain for a stay in the same region on the return trip.

Image by Boch.
Image by Boch.
Image by Boch.

If your company doesn’t yank its franchise agreement with this facility, then that speaks volumes for the types of facilities you’ll allow to operate under your brand.  And I damn sure want no part of that.  I’ve stayed at my share of hotels across the nation over my fifty-odd years and this was easily the worst of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.  My wife said the same for her.  And we paid $108 for that priceless experience.

Thought you would like to know. On the bright side, at least we didn’t have to shoot anyone trying to rob us before we drove away. And we didn’t bring home any bedbugs. But that’s a little below my minimum standards for lodging. And I hope they are for Choice as well.


John Boch

Book your travel accommodations accordingly.

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  1. Setting aside the fact that a foid card is a criminal violation of a persons civil rights. It is dumb to shoot yourself in the leg.

    • don’t laugh!…I had a similar experience…used to sleep with a Glock 30 under my pillow…one night I dreamt someone was coming through my bedroom door and I grabbed the pistol and shot at him…then I woke up and thought “what a weird and scary dream”…until I adjusted the blanket and noticed a hole in it….YIKES!…that’s when I began to check my legs very carefully!…..

    • IN YOUR OPINION it’s CRIMINAL VIOLATION of you Civil Rights@!! Why are you not challenging it in court because you would get substantial CIVIL DAMAGES?

      I cannot see why this incident could not actually be the truth. When my sister was about to get marries she had a tendency to sleep walk to the point that one night she even cycled to the Local Post Office at 2QAM and the managwer was woken up by her trying to post an imaginery letter in her quite revealing shortie. He rang up my DAD who came and fetched and my sister never lived it down.
      I’ve done it myself and once when I was in CYPRUS with the ROYAL AIR FORCE the guys in the billet three levels down were surprised to say the least when a certain Corporal Hall was observed to go into some buggers WARDOBE and shut the door – to have a piss. It took some while to live THAT down as well and a Laundry Bil MY excuse was that I’d been kicked in the head playing Rugby l

    • Probably better than the Ramada in Albany will be after a few weeks of housing illegal aliens.

    • I live in the large city near Decatur. The whole town is about that way if you ask me. I avoid the place. Has always struck me as industrial ish and dirty

    • That looks (and sounds like) pretty much standard fare for a motel. Where the experience may have been not to your liking, I think that you are out of touch with what is normal at your average MOtel.

      If you demand better, it needs to be a HOtel. Motel: doors on the exterior (and will be a dump); Hotel: doors on the interior and will be better than a motel. (That’s not to say that all hotels are a dream, but generally all motels will be a dump.)

      • motels are fine when your car is right outside…hard to find one in Vegas, though…they want you right next to that casino…

      • stayed at a HOtel…[Calinda]…in Cancun, Mexico…two “gay blades” screaming at each other across the hall as we checked into our room….oldest daughter was almost electrocuted at poolside the first night..[light mounted in a steel pipe that she accidently grabbed]…few days later the Mayan maid threw out my other daughters dental device that was soaking in a glass of water…aside from me getting the runs… it was a fun trip

  2. My dogs growl and bark in their sleep while dreaming of intruders, rabbits, or squirrels. I’m glad they don’t have guns, or fingers.

  3. John,
    Just because you haven’t “sleep handled” your guns doesn’t mean no one else has. Besides, how would you know if you were asleep? I don’t see any reason to pile on this guy. Even if he lied about the incident, he didn’t deserve to be charged like that.

    I’ve actually considered this as a possibility. I used to sleepwalk when I was younger. My daughter does as well. How do you guys feel about not leaving a round in the chamber for your dedicated home defense firearm? How often are home incidents likely to be a “quick draw” situation?

    • Because ordering ammo is a bit of a hassle (and is now part of a state registry) I tend to stick with revolvers for situations where needing time to rack is a problem as replacing ammo in rotation for potential setback is going to be more costly/troublesome than figuring out a 357.

      • I was concerned about setback issues as well. I asked Paul Harrell about it, and he ended up doing a video about it (don’t know if it was due to my specific question). I have home defense firearms in addition to dedicated carry firearms, so I don’t have to constantly chamber the same round.

        • Thank you that was a very enjoyable clip that did support a few observations and assumptions I have. May need to get a chrono to start testing my carry load and figure out what powder gets the closest on reloads until we get a few laws thrown out.

    • ” …how would you know if you were asleep?”

      Heh. I fell asleep in the recliner a couple of days ago. I was dreaming about reaching up to get something on a high shelf. My wife woke me up by asking, “What are you doing?”

      Sure enough, I had my left arm up over my head. Spooky. But I used to sleepwalk when I was a child — thought that I grew out of it, maybe not.

      • when the thought of someone suddenly coming at you…[not unusual for older folks]…is in the back of your mind…it’s not surprising it could creep into your dreams

    • I have had a 1911 in 45 cal under the pillow for over 50 yrs and never had a problem. The green laser grip is a plus for night time.

  4. While traveling, I’ve found that several of these “national chain” hotels are actually owned and run by franchisees who pay the corporation a fee to use the name. The corporation doesn’t care about the quality of the hotels, just that they get their fee.

    I’ve had better luck paying twice the rate of these low-level joints and stepping up to a Marriott or Hampton Inn (part of the Hilton family). At least I get clean bedsheets and a decent shower stall.

  5. I sleep with a handgun on my person often, but not intentionally. I tend to doze in the recliner when reading, or watching television. Typically around 2100-2200 hrs. That will last until 0200-0300 hrs. Usually in a Mitch Rosen pocket holsters. Either a S&W 442 or Glock 43. No mishaps. I suspect this guy invented this story to cover a stupid mistake. If so, he only made himself look more stupid. If true, this guy was probably prone to wet dreams when he was fourteen.

    • Going to take a wild ass guess and say you use a holster of some sort that covers the trigger?

        • Golly almost like good sense and basic safety practice essentially eliminates all but the most freak of “accidents”. It’s a shame that any mishap with negligent discharges has to start with what did they do wrong but it is for a reason.

    • I sleep with my NAA Mini in a neck lanyard.

      Kinda comforting. I just need to reach under my T-shirt, and there it is.

      I also don’t sleep with it cocked…

      • cheap motels make you wonder who was on those sheets last…[and what were they doing?]

      • traveled to Pocono with my cousin and his kid…kid later told me he was afraid to go by his old man’s bed to get to the bathroom because he noticed he was sleeping with one of those NAA minis in his hand…another wacky true story…

    • I’m not so quick to dismiss this guy’s story even though- but for personal experience- I would have thought it very unlikely that someone could do something seemingly requiring dexterity while asleep. I’ve learned that muscle memory is a hell of a thing.

  6. The revolver should have been in a rug case and/or had a plug behind the trigger, made using the bulbous base of a tire stem and bench grinder.

    As for the motel…assume nothing, ask about condition, refunds at the desk.

  7. “He was charged with possessing a firearm with a revoked Firearm Owners Identification, which is required in Illinois, and reckless discharge of a firearm …”

    This. The poor guy shot himself, and the officious officials had to officiate some official charges on him, officially.

  8. Interesting you ragged on a motel along with the guy who shot himself. Just don’t go there. My wife managed an Extended Stay some 20 years ago. Corporate wanted an extreme minimum time for the housekeeping crew to clean. And people sometimes stayed there for years. Certainly not a national story Boch🙄

    • Former, I was also wondering about the link between the two tales. Wouldn’t the story of the motel been more appropriate on a travel site?

    • just don’t spend the night in Illinois…i’d rather drive all night to avoid that

  9. I’ve been in some run down places in other countries before, where you kinda expect it, but to see a nasty place like that here in the States, that’s part of a corporate chain, is pretty pathetic. Not gonna let the wife see those pics, else she might double our hotel budget for whenever we take long weekend trips, just as a precaution. If that was the only room left in town, she’d rather sleep in the car, and use ditch water to dampen down her hair in the morning, out of pure cussedness.

    • Apparently this (partying/prostitution) should be expected at lower cost hotels. I had to catch up with an out of town client to get paid. He told me a time to meet him in the Red Roof Inn parking lot. That’s a clean looking hotel in a very nice part of town. I backed into a spot so I could see him pull in. I had to wait on him for awhile. There was some seriously shady activity going on there. The shady vehicles had local plates.

  10. I’m thinking his story was a cover for something else. Like a wife or mistress shooting at him.

  11. Since the dogs will sound off if anything that doesn’t belong shows up, I generally take off the gunbelt when I come in for the night. If I’m carrying concealed that day, the trigger is covered etc. The overnight storage is either te lock box for the CCW weapon, and a holster mounted between the bed abd night table. Quick to access if needs be, but not where a hand will land on it if tossing and turning at night.
    There have been times in my life where sleeping with a weapon was normal. Usually with another squad or team member on watch.
    Been in a few cheap hotel chains where I slept armed if I slept at all. Usually what I could find fast and get off the road before I caused an accident by falling asleep at the wheel.
    EconoLodge was 1 of them and the Motel 6 chain was another.

  12. Don’t sleep with a gun. Sleep with a woman instead. This way shooting your load will have a much different meaning.

      • once she was out walking with tanya harding when they were accosted by a flasher that was freakishly endowed. tanya asked lorena if she still had her knife. she did. pointing to her left and right cheeks she said, good- cut me here and here.

  13. My older sister used to sleep walk when she was young. My parents said they were in the living room one night after putting us to bed and in came my sister, straight thru the living room, into the kitchen, sat down on the garbage can and started peeing. Lol thought she was in bathroom.

    I never sleep shoot, but i do dream every now and then that I’m in a bad situation and my gun wont work, or it just crumbles up in my hand.

    • sometimes these things wrap around bathroom trips…while staying with my aunt as a kid, she told me she woke to see me standing over my uncle and his snoring mouth with my weinie out and ready to cut loose…don’t remember any of that but she always swore it was true………

  14. When camping I’ve slept with a flashlight under my pillow and awakened in the morning to find it across the tent, with a vague memory of dreaming about being attacked, so I learned before I could legally buy alcohol not to sleep with something under my pillow. When I go camping now my gun goes under my camping mattress, not under my pillow.
    But back when I threw the flashlight in my sleep I tended to sleep with one hand under the pillow, so unless this guy slept that way — well, I won’t call him a liar but it sounds pretty crazy. A psychologist who worked with people who sleepwalked once told me that people having a dream can do some surprising things, but the more steps there are to accomplish something the less likely it is that something will happen, and it’s not an additive process but an exponential one — doing something that requires two steps isn’t twice as hard as something with just one step, it’s four times as hard; something requiring three steps is nine times as hard, and so on. Grabbing a flashlight under my pillow and throwing it counts as one step; grabbing a gun and managing to point it towards your own leg has at least two steps, possibly three if he’s claiming the gun was beneath the covers.
    Not impossible, but not likely.

  15. Well, sometimes the pattern on my target looks as if I were asleep, but on the range it’s hard to sleep and shoot simultaneously. I sleep with a revolver under my pillow on occasion and after 60 years of doing that occasionally still have no unexplainable holes in me. I don’t own a Glock but from what I have read and think I know about them that would not be my choice for an under-the-pillow firearm. A DA/SA revolver is my bedside companion, also in .357.

  16. I’ve woken up punching the wall or doing karate kicks to the wall because I dreamed that I was being attacked.
    If muscle-memory works for karate kicks while sleeping, or for turning off two alarm clocks in my sleep and having no memory of turning them off, then I suppose muscle memory could work for drawing and firing your gun, too, so the explanation is plausible.
    That’s why I prefer to keep an empty chamber at night (or better yet, keeping the gun in a safe) — less risk of waking up shooting a wall!

  17. “I’ve handled a lot of guns in my time, but I’ve never “sleep handled” any of them”

    That’s fine, but just because you haven’t doesn’t mean much.

    I know it is possible to not only sleep handle but sleep shoot. It’s not mechanically much different than sleepwalking- especially if you’ve trained your muscle memory to do it in response to perceived threats.

    I’m not saying that this guy isn’t lying, but I know for a fact he could be telling the truth. Probably exceedingly rare, but possible. Probably not well-represented in medical literature. People who have something like this happen are likely not going to report it unless necessary.

  18. At one point in my life when I was in Carbondale a neighbor thought someone was breaking into her house (story we got anyways) and shot herself in the leg.

    Naturally a cop comes over and starts banging on the door at 00:30 in the morning and starts asking stupid questions like “did you hear anything” and what were you doing?”

    He seemed annoyed when it turns out I was sleeping in the middle of the night and didn’t hear anything. About as useful as they seem to be, far as I can tell.

  19. I don’t no if this man is veteran or not but most of the veteran experience the same things in there life. Most of them have Dreams of fighting. Most veteran have PTSD and they choice not to go and see doctors for that matters.

    • sleeping is often when you feel most vulnerable…don’t sleep with one under my pillow anymore…

  20. This might be a condition related to sleep walking. Some medications have been linked to sleep walking and similar issues.
    As for the motel story a sewer smell should have been reported to the appropriate authorities since it sounds like it needs to be declared uninhabitable and/or be condemned.

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