Previous Post
Next Post

According to, 26-year-old Derrick Wallace Dahl [above] picked up an unloaded .45, pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger. Except the gun wasn’t unloaded. And his friend Ben Hanson is now dead. The DA’s charged Dahl one count each of manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm, intentionally pointing a gun at another and recklessly handling a gun. The Minnesotan’s defense? Ignorance. Profound ignorance. Here’s the pitch from the criminal complaint . . .

In a subsequent statement, Dahl explained that this was the first time that he had ever handled a gun, and he did not know about guns. He said that all three of them had earlier been pointing the empty guns at each other, just playing around.

Dahl explained that he saw The witness take the magazine out of the gun, later identified as the Kimber semi-automatic handgun, and remove a bullet from the chamber of the gun.  Dahl saw The witness place the bullet back into the magazine and the magazine and gun had been set on the counter.

Dahl went on to say that he was looking in a cabinet and then returned to the gun identified as the Kimber handgun. He picked up the gun, cocked it, and pointed it at Ben Hanson. Dahl stated that he pulled the trigger and the gun fired, hitting Ben Hanson. Dahl stated that it was an accident, and he did not know that that gun got reloaded.

Dahl didn’t own any of the guns involved in the pass the parcel game. (If he had that would’ve damaged his defense.) It’s not reported who owns the weapons and/or made them available to the group. Their possible intoxication is also unstated.

As the victim is reported to be from nearby Welch, MN, the shooter from Apple Valley, the incident occurred at a home in Burnsville (where all the guns were stored), and the complaint describes the unnamed witness clearing the gun used in the shooting. Do the math.

The death serves as a stark warning to follow the safety basics. First, always safety check any gun you touch when you first touch it. No matter what. Second, always safety check any gun you hand to someone else before you hand it to someone else.

At the same time (equal “first”), always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction. Second, always assume that the person receiving your gun is going to pull the trigger. It’s what people do. Tell them, “point the gun over there and nowhere else, OK?” Make sure they agree. Hand the gun to them pointing in a safe direction. And then be prepared to grab it.

And don’t forget not to hand your guns to someone else. Why take that risk? I know: paranoid much? Yes. When it comes to gun safety, there’s no such thing as being too paranoid.


Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I’m tempted to repeat the link I gave yesterday for Teh Stupid, but there’s two explanations possible here: 1) the guy really is that ignorant about guns (how the HELL do you get to be that ignorant about guns in Minnesota??) or 2) the guy wanted his “friend” dead for some reason, obvious or not.

  2. I Didn’t Know the Gun was Loaded
    by Hank Fort & Herb Leighton (1949)

    Oh Miss Effie was her name
    Through the west she won her fame
    Being handy with the gun
    But she drove the men insane
    Cause she’d whip out her pistol
    And shoot most any guy
    And sing out this alibi

    I didn’t know the gun was loaded
    And I’m so sorry my friend
    I didn’t know the gun was loaded
    And I’ll never, never do it again

  3. My wife used to be an attorney with the federal court system. It’s amazing how many people “clean their guns” while loaded and pointed at their worst enemy.

  4. I have to join the group in wondering whether this was actually an accident. I think a lot of accidental suicides while cleaning guns are intentional, and in cases like these it seems this feels like it was something he wanted to happen.

    I don’t think I could pull the trigger on a verified-unloaded gun on someone, even joking.

  5. I’ve been considering a 5th rule of gun safety: “don’t play with your guns”. If you’re not using it or performing legitimate maintenence on it then leave it be.

    But then again…
    “He said that all three of them had earlier been pointing the empty guns at each other, just playing around.”

    Anyone so jaw droppingly stupid as to be doing that couldn’t be saved by 1,000 rules of gun safety.

    • +1. Absolutely, passing around any gun around just to have fun, impressing your friends is the quickest way to this particular outcome. Assume there will always be someone who thinks he/she is in a cartoon…

      • no such thing as an empty gun untill you check it yourself. and then just to clean it or train someone.

        An unloaded gun is just a peice of metal and wood or plastic.
        basically useless .

  6. Yep – people seem to lose all common sense around firearms. At a party a friend who is “on the job” was showing me his new sidearm, a Kimber 1911. Another guest took interest in the show & tell we were having & asked if he could handle it. “It’s okay, I’ve grown up around guns” were his words so my friend let him check it out (mag removed & chamber cleared of course). After about 10 seconds, my friend & I gave each other a knowing look – we had a noob in front of us. So my friend promptly took back the pistol ‘lest the guy hurt himself even with an unloaded weapon.

    The blame for the accident rests with the owner of the weapon. They should have been right there to stop the tragedy from happening. FIREARMS ARE NOT TOYS!

    • “It’s okay, I’ve grown up around guns”

      Three lies in the same short sentence must be a record.

        • what you are look for them to say is
          “I have been traind in the handing of guns”
          Q- where ? ………

          and there you go.

      • three lies:
        1) It’s okay,
        2) I’ve grown up
        3) I’ve grown up around guns

        please excuse my annoying insistence on spelling things out

    • that is sadder yet, but not an accident, he pointed and click
      an accident is if he dropped it and it went off [almost impossible with newer guns] or a ricochet
      but this was just plain stupid. but that is not illegal, now is it?
      he in realy not guilty of killing, just negligence I they convict him and send him to prison he will become the criminal they say he is and he will know how to kill. or … they could let him live with nightmares of shooting his friend dead and he will never touch a gun again.

  7. Just an itty-bitty point: Please don’t say the alleged perp was a Dakotan. He is from Apple Valley, MN. In Dakota COUNTY, not Dakota STATE.

  8. Does anyone else think it’s odd that it is illegal in MN to point a gun at another person? The statue doesn’t appear to distinguish self defense from anything else.

  9. so , i was browsing the site, and wanted to check out the IGOTD . and then, i see the top. i read into it, dot dot dot.. Oh Gosh, I LIVE THERE !? Geez . How can you be 17 years old and not know how to safety check and clear the gun? How can you NOT know that you should NOT be pointing ’empty’ guns at each other? What a tradegy. But its sad because it could have been so easy to avoid..

  10. I once heard a story of a dad whose little 7 year old boy was showing intrest in his guns. [as kids do] so he took him and two cantaloupes out to the range.

    he asked “who is your best friend? ” “jimmy “came the reply ” OK, draw jimmy’s
    face on this mellon with these markers . when finished he said “now draw your sisters face on this one” . done !
    He set them on a hay bale about 15 feet away and took out his
    410 shotgun [w/ gameload] helped his son point it and coached him about gun handling sighting and cushioning against kickback they shot.
    The mellons exploded of course, he then told him the gun doesnt know that is a mellon or your friend or your sister it just shoots and what it shoots ….dies….!
    He let that sink in and then they had a laugh about exploding mellons.

    I have never heard a better way to teach children to respect the danger of a gun without making them terrified of them. [as liberals are]

Comments are closed.