Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Nearly Fatal Doctor's Office Visit Negligent Discharge
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While virtually all gun owners act responsibly and ethically with their guns, sometimes “that guy” can’t do either. We call them squirrels in our concealed carry classes. Anyway, one of these squirrels nearly killed himself with a negligent discharge during a medical office visit in Peoria last week.

The man carried a Cobra .38 Special derringer loose in his jacket pocket during a visit to a Peoria medical practice. Now, I also visit the same medical center, part of the University of Illinois School of Medicine. One of the senior medical docs there is a good friend and I also like my soon-to-be pulmonologist who’s doing her fellowship under him.

This practice, as an Illinois resident might imagine, has multiple Illinois “no guns” signs posted that are impossible to miss.  But “that guy” ignored them. And he carried a little pistol, ready to discharge at any moment by simply bumping against something.

The Peoria Journal-Star covered the mishap:

The incident happened about 8:45 a.m. Monday at OSF HealthCare Illinois Lung & Critical Care Institute, 1001 Main St.

According to the report, the man had just completed his appointment and was receiving paperwork from a nurse. As the man was donning his jacket, the nurse heard a loud pop.

She asked the man what happened, and he said his gun had gone off, the report stated. He then asked her to call an ambulance.

At first, the nurse believed the man was joking, but then she saw blood on the floor, according to the report.

Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Nearly Fatal Doctor's Office Visit Negligent Discharge
Courtesy Cobra Firearms.

After officers arrived, they found the gun — a .38 Special Cobra Derringer — in the man’s jacket pocket.

Why would anyone place a gun like that loose in their pocket? Who knows. He apparently didn’t think it would discharge without being cocked first. Note those first three words: “He didn’t think.”

The man told police he had knocked the gun against something while he was putting on his jacket. He believed the gun wouldn’t fire unless it was cocked.

He also told officers he didn’t know why he had the gun in his pocket, the report stated.

He didn’t know why he had the gun in his pocket? Did he know where he was? Did he know what day it was?

The story I got when I talked to the medical staff differed somewhat from the news article. While the tech took my blood pressure, she told me what happened with mild amusement.

She said her fellow tech went in to update this guy’s medication list. As they talked and she entered the changes, this guy’s jacket fell to the floor. The pistol discharged with an incredibly loud pop (go figure) and the round went through the base of the chair and struck our irresponsible gun owner roughly at the base of his right butt cheek.

Initially, the medical staffer didn’t see or feel any new perforations, but then her patient asked her to call for help. At first she seemed incredulous that the round had hit him from below. But sure enough, he had ruined the chair and a perfectly good pair of pants.

Fortunately for our hero, the round missed his femoral artery by millimeters. “Otherwise he might have bled to death before he made it to the ED,” my tech added.

If someone had to get hurt, frankly I’m glad it’s the man who carried a non-drop-safe pistol fully loaded, without a holster of some sort, but in a coat pocket.

I refer to this guy as an irresponsible gun owner because this story could have had a very different ending.  That round could have popped off in any number of directions, endangering plenty of innocents, including me and mine.

Not only that, but his negligence gives a black eye to about 350,000 Illinois concealed carry licensees.

Under Illinois law, carrying a firearm into a posted location with a carry license is a misdemeanor. The first offense is punishable with a $150 fine and they can’t take your gun or your license. However, given the circumstances here, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Illinois State Police didn’t make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The Illinois State Police are expected to review the man’s FOID eligibility, the report stated.

He had a negligent discharge and someone suffered serious personal injury through gross negligence while unlawfully packing heat.

While I advocate for all good guys to have the ability to carry a firearm for personal defense if they so chose, not everyone should carry a gun. Those who have shown themselves mentally unsound, intoxicated or criminally inclined fall into that category. And this fellow stands as another pretty good poster child of those we don’t want carrying in public.

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  1. Not drop safe? For some reason I thought all current firearms (at least handguns) were required to be safe unless the trigger is pulled. This was a normal function of this firearm?

    • if it’s like many derringers, there’s little to no protection of the hammer or trigger…so, while it might be technically drop safe, it might also be really easy for clothing to operate.

      Or, it’s truly not drop safe, and like old revolvers, any good whack to the hammer will light a primer.

    • “Drop safe” requirements are only the law in a few states. I’m not really surprised a $100 derringer, loose in a jacket pocket, was unintentionally discharged. Don’t know if he whacked it on something or if it snagged on the pocket material.

        • It not the fact it was a Derringer. I will bet he didn’t have a pocket holster. Any gun will “go off” if you put coins, keys, etc into the same pocket with a gun.

          I holster my 21a in my pants pocket all the time for 6 years now.

          I wish gun stores would sell a holster or at least tell the customer, they need a holster as well for their new gun.

        • If this gun discharges when it lands on its hammer, then holster or no holster, it’s gonna go bang.

          The only training that prevents this kind of incident is training that specifically says, “Don’t buy a Cobra.”

        • Your right. If he had showed up for training with that particular weapon he would have most likely been told it was not suitable and not allowed to participate. I know that’s what I would have done. In fact, have done. That’s why I always brought a couple of extra handguns with support gear.

  2. In Texas, just carrying the gun without a holster will get you arrested… Guy is an idiot. Darwin missed this time, but will catch him next time….

    • Holsterless concealed pocket carry seems to be legal in Texas, so long as it doesn’t become unconcealed. Open (unconcealed) carry in Texas requires a shoulder or belt holster.

      So, I guess, pocket holster carry is legal in Texas until your grip shows.. Then it’s illegal open carry

      • Open carry still require a holster…a gun stuff to your waist band will get you arrested, open or concealed…

      • You’re talking old rules, here, Open Carry is legal in TX now with a license, now called a license to carry rather than a concealed handgun license. I am unaware of any law prohibiting carry without a holster, carried an LCP loose in a pocket for several years. And I’ve been licensed in TX for over 20 years.

    • Holster would not have helped. That gun is a POS

      I quote the manual:

      DO NOT carry a loaded gun with a live round in the chamber while walking, or climbing or
      anywhere you might slip and fall, dropping the gun. A gun that is dropped, bumped or jarred
      with a live round in the chamber might accidently discharge even with the safety on causing
      injury to you or someone else. Always check the gun yourself!

      Accidentally is misspelled in the manual, I kid you not.

      • So the gun owner is negligent for choosing to carry an unsafe gun from an unsafe manufacturer…

        You would hope carrying hammer down would be safe, but I guess the firing pin is just sitting on the primers, drop safe is tricky because even some “reputable” guns and manufacturers have proven to not be drop safe, both hammer fired, striker, rifle, etc…

        • The question is why are these even on the market? Also, the owner would only be negligent if he were aware of the situation.

          But than again, binary triggers, so…….

  3. Everyone of these sorts of events puts another support beam underneath the mantra that there are no responsible gun owners, only irresponsible gun owners who have yet to self-identify.

    • This incident might not be used against us by the Left Media because it’s nothing like a mass shooting and/or involving children. But I’m sure the media will find a way to steer the ND story as “someone else could have been shot and killed!” Compacency can be mittigated by simply conitiuously learning, getting feedback, and adapting with safety first (not safety third) in mind.

  4. Cobra is junk. And why does it appear you’re defending the FOID Boch?!? The FOID should be repealed but instead will become even worse BS thanks to a criminal in Aurora,ILLinois…

    • I don’t think Boch is defending the concept of the FOID card. I think he’s suggesting the law should render this person prohibited, one way or another.

      “Offer he can’t refuse.” Like maybe tell the dude if he surrenders his FOID, his Concealed Carry License and his gun(s), they won’t file charges for reckless endangerment or some other felony.

      • Good luck with the other charges. He honestly should not lose his FOID over this.

        A person acts recklessly when he CONSCIOUSLY disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow and such disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.

        But , if it makes gun owners look bad, then the typical TAG article want’s to give even more power to the state.

        • He did endanger others with his lackadaisical behavior, unsafe carry and lack of awareness. Perhaps pulling his ticket is the answer his problems?

        • “A person acts recklessly when he CONSCIOUSLY disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow and such disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.”

          Often, such a rule will say something along the lines of “knows or should know” that a risk exists.
          And he should have known. Even older guns say “Read the Frickin manual” on the barrel.

      • The article indicates that “The Illinois State Police are expected to review the man’s FOID eligibility, the report stated.” However, no mention is made that he was carrying a CCL. Not only that but, what about the fact that he’s carrying a firearm in a Medical Building contrary to the following Rule:

        430 ILCS 66/65
        (15) Any building, classroom, laboratory, medical
        clinic, hospital, artistic venue, athletic venue, entertainment venue, officially recognized university-related organization property, whether owned or leased, and any real property, including parking areas, sidewalks, and common areas under the control of a public or private community college, college, or university.

        A FOID Card only allows an individual to “OWN” a firearm, NOT to carry a firearm.
        Did I miss something here??????

      • Be sure to let us know, John.

        He did two stupid things: 1) Carried in a prohibited area (Class B Misdemeanor), and 2) Bought a Cobra. Your holster lecture is moot because it wouldn’t have prevented a discharge on impact.

        Neither of those things warrant revocation of CCL, unless you are familiar with state statutes that I’m not aware of. Feel free to provide reference to the statute that could be used to yank his license.

        • On the other hand, if he had no CCL and was carrying concealed, that’s unlawful use of weapons, a more serious charge that could result in loss of FOID.

    • A friend of mine who is very wise said years ago, “Support of the second amendment means far less than the mindset of the particular people in a locale.” I have found that to be overwhelmingly true as I’ve aged. If you look at the unwritten notions hiding behind the language here, you can see why certain places are headed toward becoming less free. The author is “pro-2nd-amendment,” but the mindset is filled with fear, condescension, and that chiding sort of nanny-mindset that permeates these places. If this had happened in Louisiana, people would feel bad that he hurt himself and be reaching out to help him. Everyone makes mistakes. It bears hardly at all upon gun ownership. Thousands of derringers are carried in pockets without going off. This author doesn’t even seem to be aware that very few holsters would even cover the hammer and wouldn’t make a difference. But the mindset is 1) freak out like a suburban mommy with her Purell, 2) scold everyone about everything you don’t understand, 3) make a mountain out of a molehill and give support to the mindset that dominates in these urban condescension zones. They may own guns, but in mentality they are the same as their opposition.

      • He did not make a “mistake”, he made a series of of dumb as fuck conscious decisions that ended in his, sadly unsuccessful, attempt at self-euthenasia. Fortunately he only injured himself and not someone else. He deserves no sympathy and should be regarded as an example of how not to be.

    • If I recall right most, if not all, of the more recent NAA pistols can be placed with the hammer down between the chambers on the cylinder so there is no way it would hit the round to set it off.

      My dad owns two similar derringer pistols and they may be older models so I don’t know if new ones have the same issue, but the firing pin will protrude slightly when the hammer is all the way down. My guess is this guy didn’t realize with the hammer down the pin was contacting the primer on the cartridge so when he bumped the hammer it fired. These really should be carried with the safety engaged as it is a cross pin that blocks the hammer from contacting the firing pin when the hammer is not in the cocked position.

    • JD has it right. First, NAA guns are revolvers, NOT derringers. This is a good read on the topic:

      Second, NAA revolvers have “safety slots” cut in the cylinder between each round. You should carry the gun with the hammer down and parked between rounds in a safety slot. No amount of dropping will touch off a round that way.

      If you carry with the firing pin (blade) resting on a chambered round, dropping the gun can and probably will fire the gun.

      NAA makes this very clear in their instruction manuals.

      Read our review of their Pug-T Mini Revolver which includes pics of this.

      • Thanks Dan for the links and info. This whole thread is really interesting. I didn’t know any of this about tiny guns.

  5. Ok, so now we know the Cobra Derringer is not drop safe. Whooda thunk?

    Anyway, I’m not sure a holster would solve that problem. Holsters typically don’t cover the hammer. If it discharged because it landed on the hammer…

    Are the NAA Derringers any better?

    • NAA Derringers have a hammer ‘notch’ machined between the chambers on the cylinder.

      You ease the hammer down into the notch, that’s its ‘safety’.

      It works, but there is a danger in lowering the hammer over a cylinder of live ammo…

      • If you shoot yourself with a NAA mini-mag maybe you should stick with airsoft guns. DO NOT look directly down the barrel/cylinder when aligning the notch. Practice with an unloaded gun. Very drop safe. Can be carried un-holstered, like in a vest pocket. NAA makes several holsters for the mini-mag that work very well. The pocket holster also carries a reload.

        • I carried my NAA Mini hammer-down, in the ‘notch’, in a pocket that contained nothing else than the NAA Mini. I was perfectly comfortable carrying it that way in cargo shorts…

  6. Certainly a lot of Law Enforcement negligent discharges… summon a lot of Reckless misconduct… but there’s that political Thin Blue Line those extra carve outs…. How about that dancing FBI agent where his Glock fell on the floor….

    • The Glock only went off (fired) when he grabbed it. Glock’s don’t go off when striking a hard object. Testing this was done repeatedly in1980s.

  7. For us in SC, doc offices are verboten to carry.

    (9) hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services or procedures are performed unless expressly authorized by the employer;

    • Pretty sure that’s the case in TX, too, but I don’t and won’t pay any attention to it. Because it’s stupid. How about lawyers offices? What’s the difference? No in a hospital but yes in a grocery? What’s the difference?

      • I figure the State thought someone might get upset when a loved one didn’t do so well or checked out of the net. Might have happened in a big metro area before…can’t recall off the top of my head.

  8. Well hey, at least he has a Cobra that actually works.

    Perhaps not as intended, but you can’t argue it *did* go bang…

  9. I sure would have felt like a dumb ass. Its illegal to carry a handgun in this State without a holster [ all hundgans must be holstered]. . He’s lucky no one else got hurt it would have been another nail in Our coffin. It used to be accidental discharges just got you the dumb sht award, now any accidents with a firegum hurts us all. Drink Responsibly

    • Why must all handguns be “holstered”, Nanny state? A revolver can me carried without a round in the next chamber, I know someone who carried like that, just had to pull the trigger twice. Any pistol Israeli carry works. Single action revolvers. You even have dumb asses who shot themselves while holstering.

      The real trick it to pass a law that require intelligence. But good luck with that one.

      And any firearm that the manufacture sates that “DO NOT carry a loaded gun with a live round in the chamber while walking” should be banned too.

  10. I just found this online review from “Steve” for the Cobra .38 Special Derringer:

    “Warning!!!!! I had this gun in my hunting pants and forgot that it was in there I picked up the pants and the gun hit my hard wood flooring and WANT OFF shooting a hole right in my closet door. I gun should not go off when the hammer is not back and it did on this gun. I just wanted to write this warning. (Posted on 1/16/2019)”

    This gun has a hammer block safety. I wonder if the safety was on during these NDs?

    • The instructions for the gun state that is can go off even with the safety on. The short of it, Cobra admits that is should not be transported in any way loaded.

    • I’m thinking they didn’t use the safety and just assumed that if the hammer was down it was safe like a modern style revolver.

      Like I mentioned in an earlier comment the derringers I’ve had experience with don’t use a transfer bar or anything like that so when the hammer is down it pushes the firing pin forward and can contact the primer so if you close the gun too hard or bang the hammer it may punch the primer and go off. I don’t know if my father’s are the same brand but I can’t imagine there is much mechanically different between the different makers.

      People are so used to how safe modern guns are that it probably never occurred to them that these old styled guns haven’t necessarily kept up with modern safety schemes and certainly look like they haven’t been changed much since the old west. They can be used safely but you have to remember to pull the hammer back and set the safety when loading or carrying it, then to fire remember to take the safety back off after cocking the hammer.

      • “People are so used to how safe….” Yep, that’s me. I never thought something in a pocket or pant would fire, just by hitting a floor or chair. I always thought of getting one, not now.

        • If I were wanting a derringer I’d go with Bond Arms. I checked them out as they seem to be significantly better quality than others I’ve seen and they have a different hammer mechanism to make them safer.

          From their website: What is the rebounding hammer?

          Think of the rebounding hammer as an automatic half cock. The hammer automatically rebounds to a blocked position off of the firing pins. This allows for safer reloading compared to other derringers. The rebounding hammer is an exclusive patented feature for the Bond Defender derringers.

  11. Initially, the medical staffer didn’t see or feel any new perforations, but then her patient asked her to call for help. At first she seemed incredulous that the round had hit him from below. But sure enough, he had ruined the chair and a perfectly good pair of pants.

    Ruined by perhaps more than perforation(s) and blood.

    And to think he may have bled to death in a medical center…

  12. For the last 39 yrs I’ve religiously carried a handgun everywhere I go EXCEPT a Federal Courthouse; and inside a doctors office exam room or hospital room IF I’m the patient. The Federal Courthouse because I’m compelled by Federal law, and the exam or hospital room because I’m compelled by common sense.

  13. Pretty interesting. Know your hardware. My CZ-75B picked up the B at the end when they added the firing pin block.

  14. Cobra is nicknamed “the ghetto blaster” for a reason and that reason isn’t because the company makes quality gear at an affordable price.

  15. Well, if you’ve gotta shoot yourself by accident, might as well do it around a bunch of medical personnel. Seriously though, who carries something like that around? There are so many modern, safe guns available at very low prices that are about as concealable.

  16. I don’t carry in doctors offices. First, I don’t want the extra weight on the scale 🙂 Next, odds are you are going be sitting around in various stages of undress, so its not concealed. Lastly the medical community (from doctors to receptionist) tend to be nosy and pushy. I don’t share un-needed information with them, period. I could just see them noting down, patient is paranoid, armed and grumpy, risk to others or similar and getting circulated electronically to who knows and used against me down the line on a red flag law or similar.

    • Exactly the way I see it. Even though I may not like it, you have to draw the line somewhere and admit it’s probably not very wise for a patient to tote inside an exam or hospital room.

  17. “Those who have shown themselves mentally unsound, intoxicated or criminally inclined fall into that category.”

    Someone show me in the Constitution where it says that if you commit a crime and do the time, your Second Amendment rights vanish. Do your First Amendment rights vanish? How about your Fourth Amendment rights? To uncritically mention that like that’s an okay thing is wrong.

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