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“I took the magazine out, I cocked the slide back. I thought the round had ejected and stuff. And then we were talking stuff and I pulled the trigger and it discharged. It just discharged.” – Thomas Dembinski in Family shocked that friends got access to guns before shooting [via]


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  1. At least he’s learned the correct spin terms from his retired cop relative…

    “It discharged. It just discharged.”

    No, you (may or may not have actually) dropped the mag and attempted to elect the round in the pipe and even if you actually did that, you still pointed it at your “friend’s” head and pulled the trigger. Shooting him.

    But I really doubt that he thought he emptied the gun first. Let’s hope for 1st Degree Murder (or whatever they call it in NY).

    • It would be nearly impossible to prove premeditation in this case, even assuming that was the case. Reading the story, it seems like the friend is still alive, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they add a negligent homicide or manslaughter charge should he pass away. With no witnesses and no apparent motive any murder charge would be highly unlikely.

      • Victim is on life support pending organ donation.
        This is a homicide.

        I hesitant to use the word “victim” in this case. As usual, there’s a whole lotta stupid going on by all parties involved.

      • Are you kidding about premeditation? He took a gun, pointed it at someones head and pulled the trigger. He can “claim” he thought it was unloaded, but for me personalty as a juror that would not reach the level of reasonable doubt.

        • The dumb shit thought the gun was unloaded so that pointing the gun at his buddy and pulling the trigger would be no more than a practical joke. That makes it an unintentional death resulting from negligent behavior which is the definition of involuntary manslaughter.

        • He SAYS that’s what he thought. So you’re telling me that I can go kill whomever I want and, as long as there are no witnesses, I can avoid a murder charge by just saying “oh, I thought the gun was unloaded… when I pointed it at someone’s head and pulled the trigger.”

        • Premeditation requires planning, in this case the prosecution would have to prove that he knew he would get access to his friends weapons and that he intended to use them to shoot his friend.

          If they can prove intent, but not that he planned it before hand, in other words he decided to kill his friend, and simply took this opportunity, then that would be second degree murder.

          If they can only prove that his actions wrecklessly caused his friends death, that would be negligent homicide at least, and manslaughter at most.

          The evidence provided in the article only supports the latter description. unless evidence of intent were uncovered the likely charge is negligent homicide or manslaughter.

        • You show a lot of faith in humanity by assuming the other jurors on the panel haven’t bought the “the gun just went off” narrative that gets peddled everytime one of these tragedies occurs

        • So DrewR, Sorry, I agree with second degree murder. Manslaughter is not applicable when you put the gun to someones head and pull the trigger. Yes in theory it is, but the testimony of the accused can not be reasonably accepted so there is no reasonable doubt. Now if there was a witness that saw him clear the weapon, you may have a chance to go with manslaughter.

    • So, he claims that, with the slide locked back, pulling the trigger caused the gun to “just discharge”? Hang him from the highest tree.

      OTOH, I must automatically suspect misreporting.

      • This knucklehead doesn’t appear to have a firm grasp on the manual of arms, so I “cocked back” probably just means he pulled back on the slide. If he did drop the mag first, it shouldn’t have locked on its own, either.

        If he’s just an idiot, and isn’t deliberately lying, and didn’t completely get the order of events wrong, my money would be on him short-stroking the slide without ejecting the loaded round. Or possibly he blocked the ejection port with his hand and the round went right back into the chamber. A more likely story is that he just dropped the mag, aimed at his buddy, and negligently shot him in the head.

    • Had a 2d lieutenant do that once, ONCE. He was the arms room officer. We were all suitably amused since the bullet buried itself in the wall harmlessly, except for the wall. We made a very ostentatious showing of clearing our pistols in his presence the rest of his tour.

      • Rolled up on HQ and asked to clear my weapon at the the discharge barrel. Looked down, the score…Officers 8, Enlisted 2. Turned to the sentry and said your shitting me, he replied don’t muck it up sir.

        • It was a cav troop arms room and he’d just finished the class a (payroll) agent thing, and the only places we had clearance barrels were the MP station and the mess hall, neither of which were in the arms room.

      • Had a couple sentries, best friends, do that in the early ’80s. 8-hour shift, outside in SD in the winter, guarding missile complex, probably pretty numb all over, one guy shot and killed his partner attempting to clear his M16. Probably didn’t help that it took hours to get help. That mistake was believable. This description is not.

        Another difference was that the clearing procedure for an M16 includes pulling the trigger.

        • 44 SMW?

          At Minot the procedure called for FSCs / FSOs to oversee the clearing before the weapons went into the rack. Fortunately I wasn’t aware of any ND’s (which is not to say they didn’t happen: I can imagine that if something like that could be covered up, it would be). I do recall a safety briefing about some mercifully unidentified guy at Whiteman putting a round through the SCC ceiling.

    • Story from a random internet forum, years ago, can’t vouch for its veracity but it makes a funny story:
      Office/computer type enlisted guy draws sentry duty.
      Afterwards, goes inside and tries to do what he remembers from Basic.
      Cycle action, remove magazine, point it in the air and pull trigger to decock.
      CO on 2nd floor does not appreciate a 5.56 going between his knees and through the top of his desk. REALLY does not appreciate.

  2. Weapons is were not secured around a demon possessed addicted crack baby rolling on 18. Rules were broken, Ross loved the Lord and hugged everyone, while good book speaks of the four horsemen, nothing of the four rules of gun handling.

  3. I looked into the gas tank, got into the drivers seat, started the engine, we were talking and stuff, I stepped on the gas pedal and the car just went forward. It just went forward.

    Isn’t there an asbestos mine somewhere we can send morons like him to labor hard and die early?

    • True, but if it happened like he said- which it totally didn’t- it did somehow fire while unloaded.

      That’s a neat magic trick.

  4. Tragic, but Dembinski violated the Four Rules of Gun Safety, no matter what the sequence of events was. His friend paid the ultimate price, now Dembinski will pay a price, as well, but not as dear a price as Thomas Ross. One has to wonder just how well secured those firearms were.

  5. Unload and SHOW CLEAR.

    Independent verification of the empty chamber condition…it’s a thing, it works, teach it.

    • And then after showing clear, don’t point the gun at yiur friend’s head and pull the trigger.

      Multiple safety rules have to be violated for something like this to happen.

      • Yeah, I don’t know whether it’s training or experience, but I always point a gun at something specific before pulling the trigger, the floor, the ceiling, a distant tree, something. Never just “it’s not loaded” snap! And certainly not at someone’s head! The only time I am capable of ignoring where a gun barrel is pointed is when it is not connected to the rest of the gun. My memory says that’s been true since I got my first gun at around 12, where it came from I don’t really know, my father was clueless.

      • Not arguing that. More a statement of the benefit of unload and show (to a another person) clear, in general. I see it mentioned too little. Slide forward and hammer down (in a safe direction) is also something that should be a thing. Though, it’s tough to find a truly safe direction at home to have hammer down without a clearing trap.

        • The gun safe works for me. If I screw up, it will potentially cost me hundreds to thousands of dollars in destroyed guns/scopes, and it WILL stop a bullet.

          Helps focus the mind, stops the bullet safely. Win-win.

          When I used to live in apartments, it was (variously) a brick wall, straight down (if I lived on the ground floor), or at an exterior wall/wall/floor or wall/wall/ceiling intersection (lots of lumber there).

    • Didn’t Lee Paige unload and show clear to a kid, right before he pointed it at his own foot and pulled the trigger?

    • Absolutely right! I was looking at rifles at Bass Pro last weekend. The Bass guy took the rifle down, opened the (bolt) action, looked in, closed the bolt and handed it to me. As I’m trained (and I train – Certified in rifle, pistol and RSO) I took it and opened the bolt, looked inside and then closed it. The guy looked at me like I was a moron. I didn’t care, THAT’S WHAT YOU DO!

    • Absolutely right! I was looking at rifles at Bass Pro last weekend. The Bass guy took the rifle down, opened the (bolt) action, looked in, closed the bolt and handed it to me. As I’m trained (and I train – Certified in rifle, pistol and RSO) I took it and opened the bolt, looked inside and then closed it. The guy looked at me like I was a moron. I didn’t care, THAT’S WHAT YOU DO! And you do it each time and every time. As the NRA teaches, it’s an attitude of safety.

  6. Another victim of anti-gun New York policies. Instead of treating firearms as tools and teaching kids how to used them safely, they simply demonize them and that gets people hurt. Not teaching firearm safety is worse than not teaching what a condom is for.

  7. In my hometown a cop accidentally shot and killed another cop. No charges, only sympathy. A year earlier a mundane did the same to one of his friends. Charges filed and vituperaration in abundance.

  8. The SI Live article writes about these two less than brilliant fellows as if they were children. They did act like children, but that doesn’t not children make.

  9. I pulled the key out of the ignition. I put the stick shift in neutral and then released the parking break. The car just rolled down the hill, it just rolled.

  10. It’s astounding how many gun owners, or at least possessors, have so little or even no understanding of the mechanics of a firearm. I don’t expect everyone to be a mechanical engineer, explosives engineer, metallurgist, or machinist, but geez, show me something.

    Always remove the ammunition source first. Then clear the firearm. Get those backward, even just once, and you risk having a live round in a chamber you thought was empty.

    • I hate that people treat it like a magic spell, rather than a rational process. Did you check there was no ammunition in the weapon before you pulled the trigger? No, not “did you go through a rote procedure you may or may not have remembered correctly, did you look and see? The rote procedure we teach you is about efficiently getting to the point where you can look and see (or even feel) that the weapon is clear. If you mixed up the order and didn’t drop the mag before opening the action, you should see that when you look inside, and realize you messed up.

      • People treat lots of things like magic spells. They don’t understand how things work and either can’t or won’t make the effort to learn.

    • And rack the slide multiple times, vigorously. Why do this? Because if you’ve done the steps backwards, you’ll send a stream of rounds flying out of the gun, which will clue you into your error.

      Then check, both visually and physically, the chamber, the magwell, and the breechface to confirm no rounds hung up anywhere.

      • No. Forget jacking off the slide, it’s pointless. If your extractor was broken the first time, it’ll still be broken the other times, too. Ejecting a bunch of rounds won’t tell you anything that looking directly into the open action won’t.

        • I’m with CarlosT on this one.

          If your extractor is broken, it won’t eject ANYTHING, let alone “a bunch of rounds”. If you do what he described, the firearm will jam on the second slide movement, as there will be a round still in the chamber and a second round nosed into it from behind. This should definitely draw your attention to the firearm, assuming it has wandered.

          He didn’t say “Don’t look in the chamber”, he outlined a method that adds another level of redundancy to the check and only adds a second or two to clearing. It’s a good addition, in my opinion, but I’m biased; I do it, too.

        • You shouldn’t need anything to “draw your attention” to a firearm that you’re clearing. You clear a firearm by focusing your attention on the open action, fail to do that, and any other ritual you care to add is just lipstick on a pig.

        • It’s a early failure detection mechanism. Everyone knows that the mag needs to be dropped first, then the slide needs to be racked. But if you fail in that procedure, racking the slide vigorously multiple times will make the error very plain.

          So, yes, you shouldn’t need the procedure, because you should be following all the steps correctly with 100% flawless attention. The procedure notifies when you aren’t, and in my opinion, that’s worth the miniscule additional effort required.

      • The final step is always point in safe direction and drop the damn hammer. If it goes bang, you screwed up but hopefully no one is dead.

        • These types of stories bother me being a new CCW. I was taught that I am responsible for every round that comes out of my gun. So if I drop the magazine,rack the slide, physically check for a round, then point in a safe area and pull the trigger.

  11. I think the “baby” Beretta is probably one of the versions with a tip up barrel. Those guns do not have extractors. So it’s probable that the mag was dropped and slide racked without ejecting the round.

    • That’s an excellent point you’ve made, right there.

      Another example of why it’s important to make sure you know how each SPECIFIC gun works, not just generic instructions.


  12. I picked the glass jar up from the counter, turned 180 degrees and opened my hand. Then it fell, it just fell all on it’s own.

  13. I had a ND once when dry firing. Either one of the followers was stuck down in the mag with a round left or I really F***** up somehow. In any case after about 60-70 trigger pulls I fired the weapon unintentionally. (It didn’t just go off, I pulled the trigger and it functioned the way it’s supposed to). Funny how since I was aimed in a safe direction, and pointed at a blank cinder block wall, the worst that happened is that I scared the crap out of myself and felt pretty stupid. (the best that happened was that I learned to physically check the magazine before reinserting and not just do a quick visual).

    I’m sure if my buddy was there aiming it at his face would have seemed like the right idea though.

    • I did something similar. Failed to properly clear an action and magazine that I was unfamiliar with. Barrel was pointed in a safe direction so nothing worse than a hole in the carpet. I was twelve at the time, been religious and paranoid about completely knowing the firearm, muzzle discipline, and clearing ever sense.

  14. “He SAYS that ’ s what he thought . So you ’ re telling me that I can go kill whomever I want and, as long as there are no witnesses , I can avoid a murder charge by just saying “ oh , I thought the gun was unloaded … when I pointed it at someone ’ s head and pulled the trigger . ””

    No, but they would need evidence of intent in order to charge you with murder. Like it or not our legal system is designed to let guilty people go free in order to not convict the innocent, which is why the burden of proof is on the accuser. I’m not saying that’s how it works, but that is how it’s designed.

    • So that we’re clear, you think that pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger isn’t evidence of intent?

      I beg to differ. One can NEVER know, to a theoretical certainty, what was in someone’s head. Yet we still have convictions all the time involving intent, often based on strong circumstantial evidence. Incidentally, he is charged with 3rd degree assault which, in NY, requires: intent. Why they are charging him with assault 3rd (requires intent to injure!) but not assault 1 or manslaughter boggles the legal mind unless they are going to up the charges upon clinical death or they’re over-reaching on even the assault charge (if there is exculpatory evidence that there was no intent, like another witness).

      • I agree that you can never know what is in someone’s head, but this appears to be a case if stupid people being stupid, and it is not uncommon to see cases where someone has pointed a gun they thought was unloaded at a friend and were not convicted of murder.

        Simply put, if the evidence suggests he genuinely believed the gun was unloaded, then it is not legally murder.

        I’m not defending his actions, I’m just saying that a manslaughter conviction would be almost certainly garaunteed, where as even a murder 2 charge is unlikely to convict, based on current evidence.

  15. I don’t care what he says he did. They were handling a weapon around a bunch of morons and someone got shot in the head.
    Likely what happened, as is so common, they pulled the slide back THEN dropped the magazine. Apparently the weapon has no magazine safety, but who knows what ACTUALLY happened in the steps that were taken to clear the guns.

    No matter, the single most important rule in gun handling is to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS point a weapon is a safe direction.
    All other safety rules can be broken as long as the weapon is pointed in a safe direction, although ALL rules should always be adhered to.
    There is little harm in saying, “I thought I unloaded it. It just WENT OFF! Sorry about your microwave oven dude”

    • Not all of them.

      And that means for the rest of Time, they have to stamp “Gun will fire if magazine is removed” on every single one of their pistols that DOESN’T have a mag disconnect. It also makes it possible for someone to store a chamber loaded S&W with no mag, then insert an empty mag and potentially cause an injury or death, and it misleads people into believing that removing the magazine of ANY semi-auto pistol will “make it safe”, which can only breed more problems.

      Trying to substitute a mechanical solution for a shooter-ignorance-or-performance-caused problem usually doesn’t work, and mag disconnects are another item that proves that point.

      • Correcting the phrase on the S&W pistols (I got it wrong, above). It says:


      • Funny how things work. After reading this story and the comments, I thought to myself, couldn’t happen on my weapon as my daily carry has a magazine safety. I would have SWORN on a stack of bibles my Sig P229 had a mag safety.
        So I popped the mag out and felt the trigger and there was clearly double action type resistance. I thought whoa…maybe not!
        So I ran downstairs to my indoor target, put my hearing protectors on and squeezed the trigger and POW! Well I’ll be god damned! My Sig P229 .40 DOESN’T have a mag safety. That sucks, I wasted a HP self-defense load. I should have popped in a cheap range round. Well that’s kind of nice to know! I tested my little Ruger SR22 and it does have a mag safety.

        • What type of setup do you have for your indoor range? I would very much like to build one sometime.

          RF if you’re reading this, setting up a budget indoor range would be an awesome article.

      • The mag disconnect isn’t going to prevent stupidity from winning.

        Let’s unpack the statement:

        “I took the magazine out, I cocked the slide back. I thought the round had ejected and stuff. And then we were talking stuff and I pulled the trigger and it discharged. It just discharged.”

        In a case like this, a mag disconnect helps prevent or limit liability from being assigned so quickly to the company making the gun with the magazine disconnect. Here again, we have claims of “It just discharged!” and so on. For S&W, the liability they were avoiding were widows and orphans of cops who tragically shot themselves right square in their head “while he was cleaning his gun.”

        Well, here again, we have guns that were a LEO’s – and claims of an accidental discharge after supposedly competent unloading of same.

        Dollars to donuts, some lawyer involved in this case will try to attach blame to Glock.

  16. You all need to remember the statistic….”more deaths occur when handling an UNLOADED gun than do with loaded weapons. It is just a case of ignorance! The kid has zero knowledge about the weapon he had and simply just shouldn’t have had access to them! These kind of parents whether it be on purpose or not, are the reason why the fucking libtards are able to CRAM their unconstitutional gun control laws on the KNOWLEDGEABLE and LEGAL gun owners! The GUN didn’t shoot anyone! Inanimate objects don’t kill! Got 2 guns in view and neither has taken a shot at me yet!

  17. Binder- I disagree, only because the burden of proof is on the prosecution; they have to prove it wasn’t an accident, he doesn’t have to prove that it was. Regardless, I think this case has “plea bargain ” written all over it.

    Hannibal- 3rd degree assault in New York is defined as:

    A person is guilty of assault in the third degree where he intentionally or recklessly causes injury to another person, or if he is
    criminally negligent with a weapon . In NY, the crime of assault in the third degree is found in NY Penal Law § 120.00 .

    So the “criminally negligent with a weapon” part would explain why they didn’t charge him with something more if they felt there was intent. It was a great point, and one I missed, so thanks for bringing it up.

  18. The great cartoon shows the woman, pistol in hand, standing over a corpse, as the detective takes notes. The caption: “Suddenly, shots rang out… .”

  19. The same people on this forum saying that this guy should be charged for negligently pointing a weapon at a person and discharging it at them were crying just a few weeks and months ago when police officers shot people for pointing guns at them. Oh, the irony.


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