As I mentioned previously, my sister and I spent a weekend in Indiana manning the Guns Save Life booth at the Indy 1500 Gun & Knife Show. While we did have a good time, there was also a little bit of a damper put on our fun and games. I will let Bonnie (who also happens to be the Secretary of GSL) explain our thoughts. The following was written by her, an open letter to our fellow GSL members and gun owners:
This past weekend (June 3rd – 5th) I had the pleasure of attending the gun show in Indianapolis, helping man a booth for GSL. We drummed up some good publicity for the organization and a good time was had by all. Well…almost.
This was the second gun show I’ve attended this year, and the second time there’s been a negligent discharge of a firearm. (Notice how the term is "negligent," and not "accidental." Failing to use the proper term can also mean failing to place responsibility where it is due. These firearms certainly aren't shooting off rounds by themselves...it always takes a person to allow it to happen.) The first occurrence was, of course, in Bloomington, which was nothing short of a tragedy. Two people were seriously injured and lives have been altered by that single event. With the few facts that we have, it still makes us wonder, How on earth did that even happen?!
But the negligent discharge at Indy was a different kind of animal. We know exactly how it happened. It was on Friday, the first day of the show. We heard one shot, stopped talking, and turned toward the general direction of the sound. I remarked that it sounded like it came from the main entrance…maybe it was a patron’s gun on the way in. The dealer sitting next to me said, “No, it was a dealer. It’s always a dealer.” And he was right.
In my opinion, event management handled it extremely well. Not long after it happened, they got on the loud speaker and gave the brief facts of what occurred, as well as the fact that the dealer in question is evicted from that gun show for good. You see, the dealer in question had his own loaded sidearm. He apparently was wanting to show someone else how this pistol was broken down, and in trying to dismantle it, he shot himself in the hand. We had all already been told that no loaded firearms were allowed in the building, and because of this incident, we would repeatedly be told that throughout the course of the weekend. The policy was zero tolerance. You get caught with a loaded gun, you are gone. Easy enough.
So the situation wasn’t all that bad. After all, the only person injured was the one who was negligent. If the pistol had been pointing the other way, he could have also hit his child and pregnant wife. There could have been a much more bleak ending to this story. But as it is, I was and am still deeply disturbed, and this is why:
Until this moment, I haven’t discussed the discharge at Indy with anyone outside my own family. How could I possibly go to work on Monday and tell my already gun-shy co-workers, “Yep, there was another person shot at the gun show this weekend. Say, are you ready to let me teach you how to shoot yet?” I’m embarrassed. We gun owners take great pride in pointing out that the people using guns inappropriately are the criminals, not us law-abiding citizens. But perhaps we all need to reevaluate that notion. Perhaps we all need to go over the basic rules of firearm safety for the umpteenth time.
One more example from this weekend: A young dealer near our booth came over to talk to my sister and I on Sunday. He was a good fellow and we’d been talking all weekend. But this time he came over carrying a pistol that he was selling, finger on the trigger. I called him out on it and his response was a shrug and, “I’m around unloaded guns all the time…” I wanted to scream at him, but instead I pointed out that the guy who shot himself on Friday was probably around unloaded guns all the time too. All I got was another shrug.
“It’s always the dealer,” I had been told. Because in that scenario, the dealer is the one who is just too comfortable with his “unloaded” gun. Put it in a different scenario, and it could be any one of us that is just too comfortable with our “unloaded” gun. And it’s up to all of us individually to make sure we don’t fall into that trap. No skipping a step in the safety check. No assuming we’ve already checked it. And for crying out loud, no pulling triggers just for kicks.
We here in Illinois are already fighting for our gun rights. Let’s make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot in the mean time.