Passively Constructed Negligent Discharge Story of the Day: Amish Edition

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Flintlock pistol (courtesy

Indiana County man dies when gun discharges in apparent accident the headline at proclaims. Condolences to the family and all, but at least the gun discharged itself accidentally, rather that intentionally. The truth? “Allen J. Troyer, 21, grabbed a black powder revolver [not shown] that his 12-year-old cousin was holding, and the gun discharged around 9:30 p.m at Whitaker Road in Smicksburg, according to the Indiana County coroner.” Back powder revolver? Hmmm. Let’s try that again . . .

The two were sitting in a room with other male relatives when Mr. Troyer asked the boy to hand him the gun. When Mr. Troyer grabbed the barrel, the gun discharged and a bullet struck him in the chest.

Yeah, not quite there yet. How does grabbing the barrel of a gun set-off the trigger?

Noah Byler, a member of the same Amish community and the owner of Byler’s Harness and Shoe Shop nearby, described the revolver as a flintlock.

A flintlock gun has “what you would call a hair trigger,” Mr. Byler, 34, said. “If he would have bumped that trigger at all, it would have went off.”

I’m not familiar with the hair triggerness of a flintlock firearms, which have numerous other safety issues. While no one expects a primed and ready flintlock to be drop-safe, I don’t see how grabbing the barrel would generate enough force to release the flint on its journey into the pan. Perhaps a TTAG reader would like to opine. Unless . . .

The young ‘un had his finger on the trigger at the time. What are the odds? Also, the gun would have had to have been primed, loaded  and cocked in order to discharge. Equally, muzzle discipline. Who hands a pistol to someone business-end first? Who accepts a pistol business-end first? I know you should never ascribe to malice what can be attributed to stupidity, but really?

Anyway, kudos to the post-gazette’s headline writer. He or she almost made up for the passively constructed headline by deploying the word “apparent.” I wonder if the coroner picked that up . . .

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  1. avatar JWM says:

    Sounds like someone pissed off the Amish mafia….

  2. avatar John L. says:

    A flintlock black powder revolver…?!

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      And probably a 50 shot one at that!

    2. avatar Jordan says:

      Yeah. I caught that too. If it was a flintlock, odds are it was a single shot (as was fairly standard for that type of lock). If it was a black powder revolver, it was probably a cap-and-ball style (as that is also what is commonly seen for old revolvers). Not saying that flintlock revolvers don’t exist but they are very rare. I am willing to bet that the people that wrote the original story wouldn’t know a matchlock from a rolling block.

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        Whoever wrote the original story probably wouldn’t know the difference between a flintlock and a bike lock… They would have been better off just embracing their ignorance and going with “old-timey gun”.

        1. avatar schernobyl says:

          They would have preferred to call it a military grade assault pistol

        2. avatar Ralph says:

          They would have preferred to call it a military grade assault pistol

          Which it might have been in 1812.

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        I am willing to bet that the people that wrote the original story wouldn’t know a matchlock from a rolling blockrolling pin.

        Fixed it for you.

    3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Must have been a Collier.

  3. avatar Art out West says:

    Being Amish, they probably weren’t drunk or high on drugs at the time. Most likely just young, negligent, and foolish. Very sad story, and hard to even imagine such carelessness as would be involved in an accident like that.

    Flintlock revolver? Is there such a thing? I know there are single action BP revolvers, but are they flintlocks? Also isn’t handgun ownership contrary to pacifism? I can understand pacifists having long guns for hunting or pest control, but handguns? (maybe for fun shooting, or pest control) By the way, pacifism is not Biblical.

    1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

      Being Amish, they probably weren’t drunk

      I’ve seen Amish Mafia. They know how to party.

    2. avatar DW says:

      You’re Amish? Who said you could use a computer for something other than business purposes??? I’m going to have to report this to your superiors.

    3. avatar Yellow Devil says:

      Not to admonish the entire Amish community, but several years ago when I live in PA near Amish country, there were stories of the police and DEA performing drug raids in Amish communities to dismantle meth labs. Apparently some in the Amish community though it was more lucrative to make and sell drugs then to raise barns.

  4. avatar theatre goon says:

    Like any other firearm, a flintlock CAN have a hair-trigger, but it’s not a universal thing.

  5. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Maybe the trigger was decorated with horse hair wrapped around it…
    It’s The fashion statement.

  6. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    Well, I reckon the victim can take solace in the fact he was made extinct via a very rare pistol.


    Someone doesn’t know a flash pan from a tinderbox.

    Flintlock revolver, total disconnect in my mind…

  7. avatar fiun dagner says:

    My son has a modern flintlock reproduction. I’m not sure it’s so much a hair trigger issue as a bad catch / lock on the hammer. It can go off if you jostle it which is why when he loads it And pulls that hammer back it’s pointed down range. if they have one of these, especially if they’ve had it and been using it for years, I can easily see the catch getting worn down on the hammer to the point where It will drop the hammer if you jostle it

  8. avatar Randy in Indiana says:

    I assume the finger was on the trigger.

    But if you set the trigger on a good quality flintlock rifle, that is a true “hair trigger,” and jolting the gun by grabbing the barrel would be quite likely to trip the sear. (I don’t recall seeing such a trigger ona pistol, but the gentleman who supplied the quote is probably familiar with long rifle triggers.)

    I think cocking a loaded flintlock and setting the trigger before pointing it toward someone would be even more irresponsible than resting your finger on the trigger. It becomes hard to argue you didn’t intend to fire the gun. –almost like lighting a fuse and claiming you didn’t intend the bomb to explode…

  9. avatar Mark Lee says:

    That paper doesn’t seem to be open for reader comments, so no corrective information is tolerated.

  10. avatar BDub says:

    You couldn’t find a pic of a BP Revolver?

  11. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    If the pistol was old and the sear was very worn, the pistol may have no longer been safe. When you’re buying even a modern used revolver, one of the things you check is if the hammer can be forced past the sear.

    Whether it was a flintlock or a percussion cap revolver, it doesn’t have any sort of transfer bar or stop to prevent the hammer from hitting the cap, or the flint from hitting the steel if the hammer drops due to a worn mechanism being jostled..

    So, this is a case where I find the explanation to be more plausible than most.

    Thus, Rule #2.

  12. avatar Saml Adams says:

    Assuming it was a flintlock pistol, might have had a “french” single set trigger. Dueling pistols had these and believe the pull could be adjusted very, very light.

  13. avatar bob says:

    If it was a “scary black” powder gun it might have had a thirty round clipazine flash pan type thingy with a military assault trigger searching for innocent souls to take.

  14. avatar McCann says:

    That headline contains zero instances of passive voice.

  15. avatar John Gancho says:

    It’s really ironic that it would be a turn of the century weapon in an Amish house. That means he’s keeping an antique in “condition 0” for self defense.

  16. avatar ggrimes2 says:

    Too many holes in the story. I want me one of them flintlock revolvers never seen one. Pretty hard to get anything to go off by grabbing the barrel there has got to be more too the story.

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