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.