Just a quick reminder: walls do not stop bullets.
From a tragic story in the news today: a married woman in Texas was sitting in her hotel room watching television when a bullet suddenly struck her in the chest. That sudden bullet that apparently came out of nowhere killed her stone cold dead in front of her husband and teenage son.
Where did the bullet come from?
The police investigators found that a man in the next room of the hotel had been “working on” a gun when he unintentionally fired it. The bullet left the gun and traveled through the hotel room wall, eventually lodging itself deep inside the woman’s chest. Because walls do not stop bullets, and because he did not take time to find or create a safe backstop before he handled his gun inside a building, the man killed an innocent woman.
From the article: “After talking with the pair at the Irving Police Department, officials said they believe the shooting was accidental but that it still carried a consequence. Gray was charged with criminally negligent homicide and, if convicted, he’ll face up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.”
Do you think that’s a just and fair consequence, if the facts in the case are substantially as the news reports say? I do. It won’t bring this woman back to life or undo the heartbreak felt by her family and friends, but the severe legal consequences and the publicity that follows them might-just-might prevent another casually thoughtless death down the road.
Also, this underscores one more reason why I say it is a violation of the fundamental rules of safe gun handling to be passing an “unloaded” gun around inside a building, even inside a gun education classroom, no matter how many people have checked it. Unless built of bricks or reinforced in some way, walls do not stop bullets. There are no safe directions inside most classrooms, and that makes passing the gun around inside one a dangerously bad idea.
If you want your students to handle an unloaded gun inside a classroom setting, you must build a safe backstop for your students and you must enforce its use at all times. Anything else is negligent — and it might just, under the wrong set of circumstances, be found criminally negligent.