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This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. Juan Robles, 30, Antonio Vieyra, 31, and Cecilio Mendez-Ballesteros, 28, were partying at Mendez-Ballesteros’ home in Wilmington, Delaware. The men took turns to fire at their heads with a gun – loaded with one bullet. “It is alleged that when Mr Robles refused, Mendez-Ballesteros took the gun, pointed it at Robles’ head, pulled the trigger and, because the bullet was in the chamber, it went off.” Love the‘s technical explanation. Hate the carnage. And yes, there is lesson beyond simple Darwinism here . . .

It’s often said that “firearms safety is everyone’s responsibility.” Yes and no. If you take that to mean that everyone has an obligation to handle firearms safely, then sure, we’re all in this together. But if you view the exhortation as a statement that every gun owner has an equal responsibility when firearms are in play, then no. Wrong. When it comes to preventing negligent or criminal discharges, some people are more equal than others.

In any group of humans, there’s always a leader. Someone in charge. If we’re talking about an alcohol-fueled group of high testosterone dare-I-say-it Mexican men, well, there’s your trouble. All of them wanted alpha dog status. Only one of them was going to get it. The competition for leadership got a little . . . intense. Adding firearms to the mix made it bound to be bloody.

Русская рулетка is, perhaps, the ultimate illustration of the fact that bad shit can happen when more than one pack member wants alpha dog status. Make no mistake: the same basic principles apply in the case of a bunch of armed buds hanging loose—especially if they’re playing with guns outside the safety guidelines imposed by firing ranges.

Jackass with guns. Need I say any more?

Then how about this: never surrender your status to someone who isn’t practicing firearms safety (muzzle control, trigger discipline, etc.). Either take control of the situation—assert your alpha status—or leave.

Seriously. Walk away. In some cases, the refusal to play loosey goosey with guns makes the alpha climb down. In others, you’ll be greeted with howls of “wimp” or “chicken” or similar derogatory remarks. But you need to leave.

Russian roulette isn’t just a bunch of nutcases trying to re-eanact a scene out of Deerhunter. That’s just the obvious child. It’s the same game you play when you trust someone with your life in a situation where friendly competition slowly—or suddenly—spins out of control.

Firearms safety is, ultimately, your responsibility. And your first responsibility is to protect your own life. Sad, but true.

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  1. Check out the very cool documentary Speed and Angels for a very similar story. The call sign of one of the pilots that they follow is "face shot" because some moron shot him in the face while f'ing around with guns at a party.

  2. Good advice Robert. The problem is you're like the preacher admonishing the congregation about those who don't attend church. But, I respect you for trying. You never know, maybe someone reading needs to hear this very basic lesson.

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