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Courtesy Chris Dumm for The Truth About Guns

Five women were attending the meeting of a home prayer group at a duplex apartment in Marion, Ohio last Thursday when the heavens opened up above them. Technically it was the ceiling that opened up above them, when the upstairs neighbor (not our very own Nick Leghorn, above) negligently fired a load of buckshot through his floor . . .

Following our esteemed Vice President’s advice, 59 year-old Terry Thacker keeps a double-barrel shotgun for home protection. According to police and, Thacker’s ‘Old Reliable’ was loaded with buckshot as he manipulated it in his second-floor duplex apartment.

The blast tore through his floor and into the apartment below, striking two of the congregants including an elderly women. Maybe the Big Guy Upstairs (not Thacker) was looking after the victims after all, because they were struck by multiple pellets but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

The Marion Police Department responded with emergency medical personnel, but they didn’t over-respond. There were no MRAPs, flashbangs or lockdowns. Just a citation for Thacker for two counts of negligent assault. He didn’t get shot, and he didn’t even get arrested. [Can we get some more LEOs like this?]

“People just need to be careful when handling firearms” said Lt. Ed Brown of the Marion PD. Truer words were never spoken.

He’s been spared a trip to the hoosegow (for now) but we will show no such restraint. Thacker’s Unintentional Double Biden gets him a well-earned IGOTD award.

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    • His ceiling, 1/2″ sheet rock
      Her floor at best 3/4 OSB and a little carpet
      At most 5′ from muzzel to cieling/ floor
      At 5-6 feet buck is still acting like one projectile.
      The front pellets “open the door” for the ones behind just like a good swat team.

        • God, I can’t believe how stupid this gun owner is.

          As we all know from the 5th rule, always make sure to hold the gun pointing towards you or at least the family pet when you pull the trigger to make sure its clear.

    • If it’s powerful enough to penetrate the human body, it powerful enough to go throw walls and floors.

      • This.

        There is no miracle bullet that only hurts bad guys, much as we may wish that there was. There is no substitute for trigger control and shot placement.

    • Dear TTAG readers, please explain to this person why a self defense shotgun would be loaded.

        • I tried playing a pickup game of baseball with an (unloaded) Benelli once. It really was an exercise in futility.

        • An unloaded shotgun is basically an overpriced baseball bat.

          Apparently you haven’t priced out baseball bats lately. My 870 would be on the cheap end of A LOT of the aluminum ones out there….

      • Whatever he was doing he must have assumed it was unloaded or was extremely careless with the trigger finger.

        • He broke 2 of the four rules: He did not point it at something he intended to destroy, and he did not keep his finder off the trigger until his sights were on target. Unless he shot at a mouse scurrying around, in which case he only broke one rule: be sure of your target and WHAT IS BEYOND IT.

        • Jacob: The unfortunate truth is that if you’re in an apartment there’s a paucity of good backstops/expendable objects to be pointed at. One should always take care with the muzzle of a firearm, and unless it’s in use it should be pointed in the safest possible direction, but it simply is not possible to always keep a gun pointed at something you’re willing to destroy. There simply aren’t enough suitable objects that fit that description. Use trigger control and don’t play with loaded firearms.

      • I think he was more referring to why was he goofing around with a loaded shotgun rather than why his home defense weapon would be loaded

      • But why handle it while it’s loaded if you’re not actually using it for self defense? The first step that should be taken upon handling a gun in this situation should be to check it for safe handling i.e. checking the safety which is most likely not applicable in this circumstance since its a double barrel, and checking the chamber for any live rounds. This should be a no brainer

        • Double guns have safeties. I’ve never seen one without a safety. Most are not drop-safe, though. On the good side, unloading a double gun does not require putting your hand anywhere near the trigger(s). Unloading is fast, and from an instant after the action begins opening there is no chance of a primer strike.

        • Just like people keep saying.
          #1. The only real safety is between your ears
          #2. All mechanical devices can fail

          I don’t rely on safeties for those two reasons. Some people feel safer with them, but I see them as a crutch for true gun safety, and ultimately as a liability.

        • My double guns all have safeties, but none of them are ever on. I store them unloaded, because they aren’t my home defense guns, but they are always off safe. The chamber is the safety; if it is open then they aren’t going to fire. So it’s simple, just keep them broken open until firing is imminent. I’ve shot thousands of rounds of trap with this method, and not a single ND.

      • Unlike when carrying a firearm on your person, a shotgun is not in your control. That’s a reason to keep it unloaded right there. Not only is it not in your control but you’re much more likely to have some warning before needing it, unlike a carry gun (it doesn’t take long to load, either).

        Finally, add the words “while he’s ‘manipulating it'” to the post up there and it makes perfect sense to me.

      • Well, unless it’s being used in that moment in a potential or actual self defense situation, or sitting reliably and untouched awaiting such a situation, then it’s not clear to me, either, that it should be loaded.

        I get the questioner’s surprise and I get the responders’ point about preparation, which is all well and good, but what about this idea of manipulating a loaded firearm without intention of firing it?

        If we don’t even point at that which we do not intend to destroy, then why keep loaded a gun you don’t intend go fire? If you want to inspect, clean, or even just play with it (not encouraged), then shouldn’t making safe and showing clear be par for the course?

        • Wow, the gun-grabbers are out in force today. An unloaded gun being retained for the purpose of home defense is as good as no gun. Home defense guns should be loaded with a round in the chamber for the purpose of home defense.

    • Where do 100% of home invasions happen? I’ll let you mull that one over a little.

      Dude in an apartment complex witnessed a murder. He ran back into his apartment to 911. Bad guy kicked his door in and killed him while he was doing 911. Bet he wished he had a loaded shotgun handy.

      • Where do 100% of home invasions happen?

        I have enough confidence in my intertubez cred to admit that I actually had to think about that one for a second….

      • “Where do 100% of home invasions happen? I’ll let you mull that one over a little.”

        I’m no good at these things… Is there more than one answer?

    • If it is your Home Defense (HD) gun, it had better be loaded. That “bump” in the night can turn into an assailant’s blunt object going “bump” on your head pretty quickly, leaving you no time to spare to find your gun and load it.

      Best to have a dedicated HD gun thats always loaded. Leaves no questions at inappropriate times:
      “Where is my gun”
      “Is this the right magazine”
      “Is the mag loaded?”
      “Does this mag have the correct ammo?”

      • I can’t believe that a gun news blog is having a conversation about IF a HD gun should be loaded. Am I taking crazy pills?

    • Well, if he had to use the shotgun in a hurry, do you suppose the person against whom he believed it needed to be deployed would honor his request to wait while he loaded it up? And since the weapon was a double-barreled shotgun, he wouldn’t be able simply to rack a round into the chamber. Either one or both barrels of the shotgun are loaded, but presumably not cocked, or they’re not. Of course, if Terry Thacker wanted to “manipulate” the weapon for reasons unclear, but evidently having nothing to do with a developing self-defense situation, it would have been smart of him to have unloaded both barrels before beginning his manipulation, or at the very least to have assured himself that neither barrel was cocked. If you want to play with your double-barreled shotgun, I vote for both barrels being unloaded.

      • The entirety of modern break breach shotgun designs cock either on opening the breech or closing it. Thus virtually all break breech shotguns would be cocked when loaded. These also all have safeties that can be engage and of course the ultimate safety is to not pull the trigger.

      • This is exactly why a double barreled shotgun is not a good firearm for home defense purposes. Leave it for hunting and sports, and get a pump for home. Store it with no round in a chamber but with the mag full, so that it’s one rack away from being ready.

        Seeing how you can get a brand new Turkish made shotgun for under $200 if you look around (and while knock-offs, those are decent quality), or an old but still working American made one for $100, there’s really no excuse.

    • Gordon,
      The problem is not the loaded weapon.
      The problem is the empty brain.
      Negligent discharges do not happen when basic gun safety rules are followed, even with loaded guns.

    • Can’t tell if it lives under a bridge or not. . . If it starts demanding tolls, let me know and I’ll have it pegged.

      • There’s no such thing, grammatically, as an “elderly women.”
        I recognize, in fact, that an elderly woman (singular) or elderly women (plural) are all worth negative points unless they’re armed and up to no good.

    • I agree with you 100%.

      But in the interest of giving him the benefit of the doubt, a lot of side-by-sides aren’t drop safe. If he had the hammers down on live shells and banged it hard enough on something while “manipulating” it….

      • I don’t understand why people who use a double gun as a defensive item leave the action locked. Back in the days long ago when I used my favorite skeet gun as my HD item I would leave the action slightly open. It was safe, took a fraction of a second to close, and prevented accidents. As a plus, it was simple to see, in an emergency, that the thing actually still had two shells in it.

        • I religiously press check auto pistols and pump guns, rifles and the like. . .if I’ve been out of the room I recheck them when I pick them up. . but I can’t imagine actually living in an environment in which the gun I left loaded in my home isn’t still loaded when I come back to it. It’s more a of confirmation that I actually chambered a round last time I handled it than a real case of wondering if it’s still loaded.

        • Ardent, look at it from either point of view. I do realize that it’s one of those ‘methods’ that sounds awkward until you try it.

    • The very same. A tremendously fun gun, FWIW, and those twin Laserlyte pistol bayonets give you some zombie-repellent while you’re reloading.

  1. I like IGOTD cause it used to be mostly people overlooking safety which lead to an unfortunate series of events. they used to be lessons. recently y’all seem to just be reporting darwin award candidates, criminals, and the sorta folks that are idiots in every possible way. but this is one of the more constructive ones. keep at it. maybe y’all should include each of the things that probably went wrong and how we all can avoid it. it would be really helpful for new shooters. heck, y’all taught me most of what i know about firearm safety when i started out. maybe include a “what went wrong” series of bullet points at the bottom. ya know, do it for the kids.

    • You’re saying it wrong, you are suppossed to say:


      No need to thank me, just doing my job.

  2. I keep my Mossberg cruiser ready and point it at the floor whenever I’m moving it. I don’t have anyone living beneath me. If I blasted through the floor, I might hit my dirt bike in the basement and that would be heartbreaking, but if I blasted through the ceiling, I’d hit my in-laws. It’s a tough choice, but I think I’m doing it right.

      • Yeah. I LOVE that bike. It’s a dual sport so it’s my main means of locomotion in good weather, both road and trail.

      • Considering my in-laws I would get several slam firing shotguns(semi auto) and point them up.

    • With the chamber empty (“cruiser ready”), the odds of an ND are remote indeed.

      I prefer to keep my wall-leaner with the action open and the tube full. It’s not cruiser ready to be sure, but I can be ready to do the business fast enough. The main advantage to me is that I can see that the chamber is empty.

      • I believe that is called rhodesian ready. Basically you leave it halfway through a pump, so the action is open, the chamber is ready, but theres a round on the lifter ready to shuck in.

        This is another reason that pumps are better home defense weapons than Biden doubles. There is no truly safe way to store a ‘loaded’ double, while a pump can have the tube full with nothing in the pipe.

        • I think that “Rhodesian Ready” refers to a stance for holding long arms where the stock is tucked under the strong arm and the hands are in position on the stock to bring the rifle quickly to shoulder. It’s very comfortable.

        • A loaded double-barrel shotgun is every bit as safe as a loaded Glock. It won’t fire unless someone pulls the trigger.

        • Of course it was the Ralphian def I was agreeing with.

          And no, a double gun with shells in the chambers and the action locked is not as safe as a Glock. They have different failings. The double gun should not fire so long as the safety is on (doesn’t apply to exposed hammer guns) but will often go off if dropped. The Glock will not go off if dropped but has no mechnical safety to prevent the trigger from doing its job when pulled.

      • Agree with both the empty chamber and definition of Rhodesian Ready. I think doubles should be left with the action slightly open.

      • I keep my defensive pump gun with a full tube and closed empty chamber. I don’t need to see it’s empty since it just sits there anyway and if the time comes to use it I’m going to cycle it and listed for the ‘full chamber’ sound to know one went home. I am an advocate of empty chambers on non carried arms though. Full mag empty chamber means I can have it ready very fast, but that it’s not going to be accidentally fired by someone inadvertently activating the trigger or admiring it.

  3. Gordon I have a loaded pump shotgun 3ft. from me as I type. 5 in the magazine,safety engaged,none chambered. And that’s why someone would have a loaded ready to go shotgun. Of course I DON’T live above elderly ladies having a prayer meeting. I still don’t know if want a shell chambered & safely off stumbling out of bed at night.

    • I don’t keep one chambered specifically for the deterrence of the pump racking in the dark. Now, I don’t believe in relying ONLY on deterrence, that’s why that racking sound is accompanied by chambered buckshot…

        • I would keep an empty chamber to avoid accidents (and preventing somebodys misuse of it).

        • It really isn’t hollywood, paul. I ran the bad guy(s) out of my house and protected my children by racking the action on a pump gun. In hollywood legend I would have died in a hail of FA fire directed by a well trained team of super baddies.

          But in the real world all I got was a broken window, which is what woke me in the first place.

        • I like the positive safety and positive readiness of cycling my pumper prior to use, loaded mag empty chamber safety off. I also don’t like the location or actuation of the safety on my Mossburg and so never use it. Either it’s an empty chamber or its live and I mean to shoot it, if I decline I open the action, dump out the round on the lifter, close the bolt and recharge the magazine. If I have time to pick up my shotgun the sub 1 second it takes to cycle the action is hardly more than turning the safety off would take. Sure, I give away my position, that is if you know the layout of the place we are in, but it also sends a strong message, someone is here, and they have a shotgun. It’s a trade I’ll make. I’m not actually trying to use the sound of the gun as a defense, it’s just that for a gun I leave lying around I like the safety of the empty chamber. As for giving away my position. . . what good does it do, I was going to order whoever was coming in to go back out anyway by way of telling them I have a gun. You might say that racking the action is simply a shorthand way of saying the same thing ‘I have a gun, get out of my house before I get to you’.

      • Agreed. It only takes a second and that sound IS pretty damn intimidating. There are some who outright scoff at this idea (you’re giving away your position! An unchambered shotgun is a hockey stick!) but I’ve found that more people than not choose to go this route with their bedside shotguns.

        • I would rather blow the bad guy away than count on him “running away”

          If he WILL run away, I’d rather have that. But I don’t count on that. That’s why I said it’s loaded with buckshot. If the sound fails, the buckshot won’t.

        • DownRope….

          Put your big boy pants on and read up on the castle doctrine which is law in my state

          The minute a person crashes into my house and I find him, I am not depending on “scaring” him to defend my home. He will be shot before I play games with him.

        • Paul, my comment was about your statement, not your likely actions. Why on earth put that on a blog post that is discoverable by prosecutors?

  4. CHECK,CHECK,CHECK,CHECK,CHECK,ALWAYS CHECK TO SEE IF THE GUN IS LOADED! TAKE YOUR FINGER OFF THE DANG TRIGGER! This gives us all a great a reminder of how being unsafe with firearms leads to people getting hurt and Moms Demand Action wanting more restrictive laws under the guise of keeping people safe.

  5. I made a bedside gun rack out of old curtain rods wrapped with duct tape. Secure as hell and the gun sits snugly against the mattress. Relevance? None. It’s just damn cool.

    • Yes, but does it have a salutary effect on your love life? And does the positioning of the gun rack interfere with the handcuffs?

      • But you repeat yourself. My guess is its been so long he can’t even remember who’s supposed to hold the whip.

    • You just need to tape around the sharp edges so you don’t pierce any inflatables you bring to bed with you. I’m mean, if you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not. As far as you know.

  6. To Andrew, who “always make sure to hold the gun pointing towards you or at least the family pet when you pull the trigger to make sure its clear”, why don’t you practice pointing at yourself first, while I pray it’s loaded and chambered.

    • Gee Georgia, I think you missed the sarcasm in that post. But even then, what fail….

      Andrew (sarcastically): “point the gun at yourself”

      Georgia (granny panties all knotted up): “Yeah, well, point it at yourself (derp!) and hopefully blow your brains out! For the children™, of course…”.

      What cheeky kent you are, Georgia.

  7. What, no laugh points for the ‘Unintentional Double Biden’ joke? I’m hurt, guys.

  8. I have some personal insight into this. I fired a blast through the upper floor of a decrepit building, #4 buck, once. It made a small hole of entrance in the floor, and a rough hole in the ceiling below, in an irregular shape, about 10″ by 6″.

    The buckshot did not have much energy after it emerged, and I found almost all the pellets with a 5-foot radius. Even a small wooden table that took the brunt did not suffer any damage.

    There is a lot of damage within a few feet, but a floor and a ceiling absorb at least 90% of the energy. I have never used used 00 buck at all, ever. I have shot a good amount of %4, though. I have only hunted very small game, rabbits and squirrels. No prairie dogs.

    • Excellent point. Is the District Attorney going to charge the shooter with a hate crime?


  9. Honestly if that guy had been arrested I wouldn’t have been that upset. Mistakes have consequences.

  10. I just have to ask…

    What are those prongs on the end of the gun in the pic? IT looks like AN oversized corn-on-the-cob holder, but…

  11. This moron should have been arrested and should not ever be allowed to possess firearms again.

    • Ever wreck your vehicle? Or rear end another vehicle? Was anyone hurt?

      If so, please forfeit your vehicle and license, all privileges to drive are hereby revoked, immediately.

      You’re obviously not fit own a vehicle, nor drive one. Nor are any of your family members living within your home…

      You’re a dangerous person and someone could’ve been killed.

      Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

        • Dude, we should start our own reality detective show!

          Call it, Uncommon Rock, we can go around solving crimes where the solutions are overtly obviously.

          You can be the brainy, clean cut guy who knows all the random off the wall shit, like facts about the sleeping habits of pandas and shit like that. You can always be typing real fast on computers or searching on some data base for information we need.

          I can be the surly, disheveled, but in a cool way, loud mouth that always wears Hawaiian shirts and constantly insults people.

          Every week I will be hungover, or on my way to it, and you can be constantly getting me out of trouble. And I’ll have to be blipped out all the time due to saying f*ck a lot.

          It will be a f*cking hit!

        • I wanna be the shady, underworld type that you always put the squeeze on for info. I can own a tittie bar.

        • Hell yeah!

          Your name can be Jack “the Wagon” McCade, jwm, like how i did that…

          And your bar can be called Jack Wagon’s. The running gag every week can be that we always call you Jack Wagon.

          “What’d you hear that bank robbery, Jack Wagon?”

          Man, this shit is writing itself!

        • Call me anything you like so long as the checks clear. I smell an emmy. And maybe a feature length movie.

        • Uh yeah, about that… It’s gonna take away to get this thing off the ground. So, for now, can we set you up on a “pay as you go” system?

          Uncommon sense also has some uncommon skills, if you catch my drift…

    • Let’s say the man was parked in front of a cafe. Intending to back out of his parking space, he failed to realize that his car was in Drive (rather than Reverse) and smashed into the front of the cafe causing minor injuries to two patrons. Does the man lose his right to drive forever? Should he be immediately arrested?

      My response is, no he should not lose his right to drive forever. Rather, he should pay for the damages to the cafe, the medical care for the two patrons, and some reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering that he caused the two patrons.

  12. at least no burglars will come to his house.

    im sad he didnt heed uncle joe’s advice to the fullest. youre supposed to fire off two blasts in the air outside, not inside.

    cmon man…

  13. I know this guy was an idiot. I hope the old lady recovers fully. But think of the street cred this dude has now.

    “Don’t mess with that dude in 2c. He shot an old lady for praying too loud.”

    • My coffee is getting cold here. I dare not take a sip, because I scroll down, read and laugh even harder!

      • You get no sympathy from me. As a veteran ttager you should know that liquids should never be near the typy screeny thingie. Never.

  14. Not sure if it’s to late to post this. I’m 1 of the women shot. It’s been over a year now. I still can’t believe he received no jail time. Its sad you can cause injury to someone and just get away with it.

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