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We all know that rifles don’t just “go off.” Or, at least they shouldn’t if they’ve been properly maintained and have only been worked on by proper gunsmiths. Then again, people have been known to do some extreme modifications to their guns to get them to fire faster and whatnot. It looks like one such kitchen counter gunsmith modified his rifle so drastically that it accidentally went full-auto after being accidentally dropped, killing a 5-year-old and wounding another woman in the upstairs apartment . . .

From the Associated Press:

Authorities say a 5-year-old girl has been killed and a woman wounded in Grants Pass after a man apparently dropped an assault rifle and it went off, firing a burst into an upstairs apartment.

The Grants Pass Daily Courier reports a 30-year-old man was arrested Thursday night on charges of manslaughter, assault and illegal possession of a machine gun.

I’ll just say this: there’s a reason that I have a plate of AS-500 steel sitting in the corner of my apartment. Whenever I need to clear a gun, that’s where it gets pointed. No exceptions. And for this exact reason.

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  1. Great. Just great. Some yahoo violates all sorts of safety practices and makes ALL of us look bad. Not to mention giving the antis more to bitch about and stoke their gun control fires with. What’s the dude’s defense gonna be? Oops? Tragic and appalling.

    • When some moron gets drunk and drives his car into a troop of Campfire Girls, does that make all drivers look bad or make everybody who has a beer look bad?

      The only thing that makes us all look bad is thinking that some yahoo makes us all look bad.

      • Thank you, Ralph. Thank you very much. You said what was in my heart, struggling for the words to make it clear.

        We need to get a grip on rationality, and stop mea-culpaing and flagellating ourselves and others. It’s no worse than any other tool. In fact, it’s demonstrably better and more reliable than most.

        PLEASE stop crawling over everyone else in the vain (and I mean that both ways), blind attempt to seem the “most reasonable gun nut in the group”. Trust me, there is no faster or surer way to look like the groveling liberal of the group. Like Jimmy Carl Black was “the Indian of the group.”

      • It proves that all privately owned cars and other vehicles must be banned. Only qualified government drivers, trained truckers and bus drivers, and professional limo and taxi drivers should be operating those huge heavy evil dangerous machines.

      • Yes, when some sauced-up dingbat plows into innocent pedestrians, it does make everybody who has a beer look bad. Guilt by association is a real thing. Stupid and unreasonable, but it’s there nonetheless.

        When some ballistic dingbat does something like this, it makes all gun owners look bad. Especially considering that Gun Prohibition Inc. just can’t see why the gov’t won’t get on with it and legally brand us as the criminals we already are. Especially considering that the mass media has been waging a Goebbels-worthy propaganda campaign against gun ownership for decades.

        One irresponsible moron like this shouldn’t make us all look bad, but he does. Even without public perception stacked against gun owners, it would still be that way.

      • It makes all drivers look bad when there is a strong contingent who are looking to legislate against cars.

      • I might agree, but only in theory, in a perfect world. Which we are not in. Seems quite a naive response to a reaction I have seen espoused on this site many times before…do you really, honestly think public perception is not at least half the battle in the fight around 2A rights? Maybe more than half? NC’s state motto is, “To be rather than to seem.” There is a critical difference between “being” and “seeming.” Stu was talking about the public perception resulting from such incident – the “seeming” – and not saying that he, you or anyone else is actually also negligent by association – his, your or their “being.” Perhaps you’re familiar with the age old adage, “Perception is reality.” That could not be more true than today, in our hyper media instant news world. It saddens me that you and others apparently can’t see that – or won’t acknowledge it. Perhaps while still bemoaning the “mainstream media.” What do you think their goal is? Controlling the public perception. Ignore this “being” a real issue, at your (and all our) own peril. Because to win this fight, to secure our rights, in the long run we need to alter enough of the public’s perception of firearms and those who own and appreciate and use them. Or, if you believe as I do that many more in the public are supportive of this issue than the media presents, then we need to be viligent in not allowing those supportive perceptions to be altered negatively. Either way…Stu was simply lamenting that incidents like these move that effort to alter (or maintain) perception in an unfavorable anti-2A direction. And I would agree with his sentiment.

      • >The only thing that makes us all look bad is thinking that some yahoo makes us all look bad.

        You don’t think that this will add fuel to the fire that is already raging?

        Maybe we like to pretend that we’re all somehow better,but for all we know, that “yahoo” was a well-(self)respected member of some/all the gun boards on this here internet…maybe at one time it was HE who was spouting platitudes about gun safety and chastising some other yahoo who did something just as idiotic last year…

    • TO: DJStuCrew
      RE: Looking ‘Bad’?

      Some yahoo violates all sorts of safety practices and makes ALL of us look bad. — DJStuCrew

      Not that it makes us look bad. But it DOES give the gun-grabbers a sh-tpot full of ‘ammo’ to use in the future.


      [There is no known cure for ‘dumb’.]

      • Oh, that’s sensible to you and me. To the non-gun people, though, it’s how they think. I was reminded of a Chris Rock routine, when he talked about some horrible crime story on TV. He’d watch, saying, “Oh, please, don’t let the guy that done it be a brutha! Oh, lawd, PLEASE don’t let it be a brutha! Then they’d show the guy’s picture and I’d be, aw, DAMN! Why’d you have to go do that?” Because he knew that what one black person does reflects on all. In the mind of the general public, they view us the same way.

    • >Great. Just great. Some yahoo violates all sorts of safety practices and makes ALL of us look bad.

      Wasn’t he one of “us” BEFORE this happened?

    • Yup. “Transient” with an illegally modified gun. At least this article describes him as being in a separate apartment from the victim, removing the question of how a mother ended up hanging out with her 5 year-old around a “transient” with an illegal machinegun.

  2. None of my guns are in the red while in the house. I have them yellow (mag in no round chambered). I will only put guns that I have physically in my control in the red. Why someone would so alter a weapon that it becomes unsafe is beyond me. None of my modified weapons have anything that would alter the safety or normal function of the weapon. What a terrible loss of life because of a total fool.

      • Hey now! Glocks are guns too and need to be loved equally, like all others. That said, that one is fv@k ugly. I wonder if he carried it at all, like that I mean.

        On a side note, I live in the Memphis area and carry a G23 but I am not the seller or creator of this thing!

        • The really funny part is he tried to make it sound tacticool in his description. In reality that thing should be scrapped for parts and that frame should be melted down and tossed.

        • I had a hard time reading the ad so I had given up but just went back and read the whole thing. Apparently he carried in a belly band in its “current configuration.” I sincerley hope that he is selling it because natural selection took over.

      • I didn’t know there were Cow Pie aftermarket grips. They’ll make your eyes water, those ones.

  3. Nick,
    I’d suggest going to Lowes or Home Depot or any hardware store, buy about 40 lbs of sand and buy one of their 5 gallon pails.

    When clearing a firearm, sand in bucket, point firearm vertically down into center of bucket. If it goes off, even an AR 15, bullet most likely will not exit bucket, certainly not a 9mm (and how do I know?).

    Better than a richocet off of a steel plate.

    • We used clearing barrels in the service. 55 gallon drums with sand. No richocets. I agree with Dermott. A steel plate in an apartment is not a good idea.

      • Sand bucket is a great idea. In the Army, some of the worst offenders on NDs are officers and senior NCOs. I guess I better watch myself after I receive my upcoming field grade lobotomy.

        • The less you carry condition red, the more likely you are to have an ND at the clearing barrel when something happens and you have to go red.

          You are training yourself to “clear” your weapon while skipping step 1 – Remove the source of ammunition. It’s muscle memory – you do that at least twice a day if you are somewhere you can get hot chow.

          I always trained my soldiers that unless they were doing CTT, it was “charge weapon 3 times then pull trigger” – that ensures that you’re going to see a round eject if you forget to drop the magazine.

          It’s so fr!ckin’ basic, and it really frustrates me that the Army leadership hasn’t seemed to figure that out. Most NDs 1) have the same root cause and 2) occur at the ECP, Chow Hall, PX or anywhere else there’s a clearing barrel. And it’s usually someone who stays inside the wire who, for whatever reason, has had occasion to actually load the sidearm they usually carry empty (ie, officers and senior NCOs).

    • I have exactly this sitting just outside my front door. If a loaded gun needs clearing, or guests are going to be drinking, weapons are checked via the clearing barrel. 22+ years in the military works.

      For less than $10, you can vastly increase your safety margin. I don’t know why more people don’t do this. Baffling…. (pun intended).

  4. Why would you point it at the armor? For unpredictable ricochet and spalling? No thanks.

    • Because after a bullet impacts something solid (like a piece of hardened plate steel) most of the energy is dissipated in the work done to the bullet (by breaking it into pieces / flattening it etc) and the plate steel (by putting a dent in it). Sure, you might get some bullet fragments that fly off in random directions, but they are likely to be small and moving a lot slower than the original muzzle velocity of the bullet. Those small fragments are unlikely to be able to penetrate thru an interior wall in a home, much less do someone lethal harm.

      It will look something like this:

      BTW, the bullet is unlikely to ricochet (as a whole projectile) unless it strikes the plate at a very shallow angle. If you point the barrel squarely (or nearly so) at the steel plate, the bullet will behave as I previously described.

      Personally, I dont find it necessary to use a steel plate to clear my weapon, I just point it at the ground. But I dont live in an apartment where there might be someone below me. This falls under the 4th rule of gun safety: Know your target, and what is beyond it.


      • Don’t know about you, but my tens of thousands of pistol projectiles against steel plates has resulted in more than enough ricochets than I’m comfortable in mentioning. Suffice to say, all were done in a match environment with the appropriate safety protocols. Rifle rounds carry more energy, I’m sure they carry further. Kinetic energy unleashed on a dynamic barrier has impressive results. A picture perfect example of what a bullet MAY do, is not a valid reason to do something (or not do something). In the end, visually and physically ensuring the chamber is clear, along with no ammunition feeding device, is the proper way. Outside of that, you can’t fix stupid.

        • I’m reminded of General Bradley’s [as played by Karl Malden in Patton] comment about the armor protection provided by US Army halftracks.

          General Bradley: Do the German machine gun rounds penetrate the armor?
          Soldier: No sir. They just come in one side and rattle around a bit.

  5. Something about this doesn’t sniff right…question for the lawyers here: for an ND that killed someone, would a ND caused by a direct trigger pull be legally more difficult to defend than an ND caused by dropping a loaded gun that wasn’t drop safe? Just wondering if this guy tried to play of his “accident” as “not his fault” because “it fell” rather than “I was pulling the trigger on a loaded gun”.

    • Regardless of whether it would help in court or not, I’m guessing that this guy did not drop his gun, but pulled the trigger, then lied because a drop sounds less negligent.

      Question: are there any documented cases of full-auto weapons discharging more than one round after being dropped?

  6. TO: Nick Leghorn
    RE: Uuuuuuuhhhhh…….

    I’ll just say this: there’s a reason that I have a plate of AS-500 steel sitting in the corner of my apartment. Whenever I need to clear a gun, that’s where it gets pointed. No exceptions. — Nick Leghorn

    Out of curiosity, how do you deal with ricochet?


    [Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work. — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting]

    P.S. You have a ‘plan’ already….but….it might not work the way you think it should…..

  7. I live in Grants Pass, I was in town the day this happened and was actually on the same street, and actually saw the Sheriff drive past me but I didn’t hear the shooting itself. Didn’t find out what it was all about until later, but I heard (and please take it with a grain of salt, it is a small town rumor after all) that there was a single shot, then multiple despite the fact that he supposedly just dropped his rifle.

    I dunno, seems really iffy to me. This is a really pro-gun kind of town and I don’t think anybody here is stupid enough with guns to do what the offender described. Modified or not, guns don’t really “go off” when you drop them – I’m pretty sure they’re designed not to do that.

    Regardless of whether not he dropped the rifle or not, I think the charges should stick. This was incredibly negligence on his part (if that is the case) and it cost a young child their life and caused a whole lot of grief for a family.

    • Maybe he negligently pulled the trigger, it surprised him so he dropped it, causing it to fire again?

      Actually, never mind. We could armchair quarterback the living hell out of this and still be no closer to knowing why it really happened.

      • Why am I reminded of that character whose Toyota rammed a police car.

        He claimed the car did it by itself.

        Toyota took a heck of a beating in the media.

        Months later, it turned out he tromped on the gas pedal, instead of the brake.

    • Trained armorers know how to do that.

      But with either the M1911 or the AR15, it’s dumber than dirt, as it’s just a waste of your limited supply of ammo.

  8. I understand what you guys are saying about this guy not representing us as a whole, and to us it’s clearly true that this idiot is in no way a normal, responsible gun owner. But, because of the scrutiny we are under right now it is very easy for the average joe to hear about this and lump all of us in with captain dipsh!t. I’m not saying its right, but unfortunately I believe that’s the way it is. Ever since I found this blog I’ve stepped up my safety-mindedness even more, not just to avoid the very UNcoveted IGOTD award, but to avoid giving those working against us another opportunity to paint all gun owners in a negative light. Go the extra mile in your quest to not be “that guy”, it will do all of us a favor in the long run.

    • Better think twice.

      Consider ricochet……..and pray it doesn’t go after someone nearby…..including YOU.

  9. “I’ll just say this: there’s a reason that I have a plate of AS-500 steel sitting in the corner of my apartment.”

    A large container of sand would be a whole lot safer.

  10. Instead of pointing your firearm at a “safe” piece of steel to clear your weapon, you should switch to a weapon that can be cleared on safe. The hammer on my Beretta 92 follows the slide right onto the firing pin block when it’s on safe. And you don’t have to dry fire it to take it down.

  11. I live in a single story apartment with a crawl space underneath the floor. So that’s the direction i point any firearm when clearing it. I’d definitely go with a 5 gallon bucket of sand instead of the steel plate. Better yet the steel plate under the bucket of sand.

    As to the particulars of this case, I would suspect that the rifle in question was not full-auto, and the perp almost certainly pulled the trigger with his finger. Therefore, expect the MG charge to be quietly dropped. Still deserves the manslaughter charge and a long, long prison sentence regardless.

  12. Unless it was one of those undependable Olympic Arms AR-15s that would go full auto or burst fire because of a defective sear. Remember the poor SOB out in the midwest wh0 was a SGT in the Guard that loaned one to a young guy who took it to the range and it started going full auto on him, the SGT wound up convicted of a felony, even though the firearm was not modified. I just heard a story this last weekend about a guy who was modifying AR’s to full auto then pawning them at pawnshops to unsuspecting FFLs. What his intent was, hard to say. I personally know one of the FFLs who got one in his pawnshop and didn’t realize it, until a vet came in and opened it up and saw the mods. the ATF was called immediately.

    • The way things are going these days I’d be afraid to report it to the ATF for fear that I’d get busted for possessing a full auto.

    • I don’t believe someone would get a felony because a defective gun went FA. I was shooting a 9mm AR when it went auto. My friend who owns it took it back to the shop and they shipped it in for repair. No big deal. If he caught a felony I’d like to see a reference.
      And why would someone go to all the trouble of milling a lower, replacing the sear and disconnects just to pawn them to “unsuspecting pawnshops” What’s the point?

      • The law doesn’t provide for intent. The mere possession of a fully auto weapon is a felony, at least technically, regardless of intent.

        No law should be enforced without intent or gross negligence. One of Stalin’s generals once said, “Show me the man and I will show you the crime.” He was the one who ran the gulags. Over in the UK a couple years ago a man found a garbage bag with a shotgun in it on his lawn. He took it down to the local police station to turn it in and they promptly slapped the cuffs on him. I think he eventually got the charges dropped because of public outcry, though.

        The laws are set up this way so that they can be selectively prosecuted. The ruling class will never give up their “right” to rule by fiat, even if it means they have to write a million pages into the tax code.

  13. Does he mean aR-500 steel or is there some other kind of super bullet proof steel that I dont know about?

  14. Cops have had NDs on full auto before, but they don’t get slapped with charges they just drive a desk for a while

  15. Loaded gun in the apartment? WTF! My ammunition and my guns NEVER come together in my house. There’s no place to shoot inside my house! There’s no place to shoot near my house! A family loses a child because some friggin moron doesn’t know basic gun safety? F**k! The anti-gunners eat this stuff up.

    • Guess you have no interest in self defense if your ammo and guns never come together. I always have at least 1 loaded gun in my safe. What good is an unloaded gun going to be if someone comes into my house looking to do my family harm? Im in NO way defending the idiot guy who shot that poor girl btw.

      • Loaded mags, YES. NO loaded guns. Loaded mag and gun can come together quickly if needed. Repeat after me GUN SAFETY. Jesus.

        • So you cant have a loaded gun and employ GUN SAFETY? Maybe everyone that carries guns should keep the mags seperate for safetys sake? Anyway keep your guns loaded or not, but either way TREATING them as if they are loaded is the best policy.

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