I’m a little fuzzy on the details here. Bottom line: Glenn Seymour [above] shot and killed himself during firearms instruction at Willams Shootin’ Iron gun shop in Mountain Grove, Missouri. As we’ve stated on this website many times, the person who “owns” a gun owns the gun—even if they put the firearm in the hands of another person. Especially if they give their gun to someone else. Times two if they do so as an instructor, whether professional or not. In this case, the instructor created/enabled a negligent discharge by, well, help me understand how this happened . . .
[Sheriff] Degase said in interviewing witnesses, he determined Seymour, who was familiar with a revolver, told others that his revolver was having trouble, so he switched to a Browning semiautomatic 9 mm weapon.
What problems was Mr. Seymour having with a revolver? Red flag number one. If a student is having issues with a firearm—be it a failure to feed or some mechanical issue (e.g. a revolver barrel isn’t turning)—there needs to be an immediate intervention. The instructor responsible for his or her student’s safety must clock the fact that the student may lack proficiency and awareness, and readjust their instruction. Or, indeed, end it.
This applies to “regular” gun owners as well. If you loan a gun to someone at a range and they can’t make it go bang, it’s time to STOP. Slowly and carefully, take the gun AWAY from the pal. Unload it. Safety check the weapon. Then instruct them how to run the gun properly. Stay right there. Or, indeed, forgag it. The most important factor for this kind of safety situation: SLOW DOWN.
Now, if a student’s having trouble with a revolver, why would an instructor allow his or her charge to switch to a semi? A semi with safety. Red flag number two. news-leader.com reports what happened next . . .
Students were working on an exercise in which they pull a concealed weapon with their non-dominant hand, take the safety off, aim and shoot.
Degase said that on the gun Seymour was using, the thumb of the right hand would normally manipulate the safety.
Red flag number three. A revolver guy’s doing advanced concealed carry work with his non-dominant hand? With a loaded gun? That’s just nuts.
It appeared to him that during the exercise Seymour was manipulating the safety with his left index finger, which got the gun turned around facing Seymour. One round hit him in the chest, Degase said.
Huh? I just tried that with TTAG’s T&E LCR9. It’s not what I’d call “likely.” In fact, Seymour probably manipulated the handgun’s safety with his right index finger.
“Initially the call came in that the gun had been dropped and went off, but the trajectory of the bullet did not match up,” said the sheriff.
This doesn’t indicate a conspiracy (much), but it does show that no one was paying attention to Mr. Seymour’s instruction. The teacher probably thought Mr. Seymour had dropped the gun, which he no doubt did, right after he shot himself.
There’s a sign you’ll see at most gun ranges: “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.” True dat. The gun store failed to hire a safe teacher. The teacher failed to teach safely. The student failed to know his limitations or follow the basic safety rules. All “owned” the gun that killed Mr. Seymour. Their collective irresponsibility had tragic consequences.
Anyway, here are my final tips. If you’re in a class where someone’s doing something unsafe, say something. If the instructor doesn’t respond adequately, or doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on firearms safety or class discipline, leave. You’re first responsibility is to yourself.
I tell of all my students in my classes that they are ALL safety officers. I can’t watch every gun on every person at the same time. Everyone is told to watch their own safety and that of everyone else and to call cease fire for any safety issue.
What Rabbi says.
In my classes, when we get to the range, I tell them that everybody and anybody can shout “Cease Fire!” at any time they see anything unsafe, and that if somebody yells “Cease Fire!” everyone is to freeze and not move guns around until I say it’s all clear.
I also tell them to yell “Cease Fire!” and not whisper it, and not worry about hurting somebody’s feelings, as hurt feelings are easier to recover from than bullet wounds.
One more thing. When I teach anything new to a class, the whole class practices the new thing a few times with unloaded guns. They empty and show clear, and put any loaded mags in their pockets or mag holders, and rehearse the new thing three or four times with an empty gun before trying with a loaded gun.
I mean even when I ask them, “Show me the shooting position you currently use” they do so with empty guns first.
When I climbed Mt Rainier the instructors informed us that if you slip you need to yell “FALLING!” at the top of your lungs so that your ropemates know to get into a belay stance. If you hear someone yell “FALLING!” then you need to start yelling “FALLING!” as well. Then they made us all do it to get over the awkwardness.
Good points. Other than my military training, I haven’t been to a formal class. However a while back I did purchase “snap caps” of various calibers, so that when I was practicing new techniques or practicing clearing jams, I would use them for dry runs.
While knowing full well that Mountain Grove is located smack-dab in the middle of BFE, any gunshop with “Shootin’ Iron” in the name should provide anyone with even middling judgment that this is not the place to learn brain surgery. Or the safe handling of firearms.
That having been said, the plausibility of the story offered by the “instructor” is about zero on a ten-scale. It’ll be interesting to learn who Mr. Seymour was Lili von Shtupping, because this tale has a very Jerry Springer smell to it.
In my concealed weapons class I won’t put a gun with live ammo into a students hands who has not had at least a hour’s worth of manipulation practice with dummy ammo. I never switch between revolvers and semi-autos unless the student has dummy ammo training with both. I have had to reschedule a student’s range date because of a gun that didn’t work.
As a southpaw, I can attest that it is very difficult to activate/deactivate a safety with your left hand if the pistol is not equipped with an ambi system. I tend to look at this feature in detail, as there are many pistols I simply won’t buy cause I can’t shoot them left-handed. Newer Browning HiPowers have an ambi safety (I own one) while older ones do not. It doesn’t say exactly what type of Browning he used.
I would imagine if you drew the pistol with your palm against the right side grip, your bottom 3 fingers around the backstrap and clutching the left side grip, and your thumb around the frontstrap, this would allow the index finger to manipulate the safety situated high on the left side of the frame at the back. You’d then have to readjust your grip to fire.
Drawing in that manner could allow your thumb to enter the trigger guard and fire the pistol. It wouldn’t be a stretch to have the pistol pointed at yourself by that point. I’d imagine it’s more likely to hit the guy in the next lane, but still.
Ayoob has reported several fatalities during weak hand live-fire training, some of which involved veteran police officers. These underscore the need for graduated familiarization, using dummy guns and unloaded weapons, before attempting to train or practice with loaded weapons.
I can manage a compact .40cal with my strong hand. With the weak, not so much. Hey, it’s called the “weak hand” for a reason. The weak hand needs a LOT more training than the strong hand. Initial weak hand drills could be performed with an unloaded gun or one with snap caps with no risk of life and limb. After showing proficiency, then perhaps a trainee should use a low-recoil round like a .22. It’s hard enough for a noob to be safe. Does the instructor really need to make it harder?
The problem lies not with the hand being weak, but that fact that it is usually untrained , unpracticed and for many, not very dextrous. I am very non-ambidextrous and working with my weak hand takes lots of extra attention and practice.
Do you think these 3 red flags went through his head as he was laying on the ground bleeding out?