The Cornered Cat

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.

7 Responses to Walls

  1. mgutterres says:

    So very sad, and so very preventable. I am conflicted about the potential consequence just because I think it is not harsh enough. Up to two years in prison and $10,000 for a human life can not seem like much to the grieving family.

  2. RebeccaTCFS says:

    And will we be taking his guns away until he proves that he can handle them properly? If they send you to traffic school, why not gun school?

    • larryarnold says:

      If the shooter is convicted of the felony he’s charged with he becomes a prohibited person, and under Federal law can no longer possess firearms or ammunition, for life.

  3. sscott says:

    I have run into a snag on this issue at home and I would absolutely love your input, Kathy.

    At night, I keep my S&W 9mm locked safely in a bedside safe, just in case the need arises. However, when it comes to getting the gun in and out of that safe while loaded (because what good does an unloaded firearm do me in a 3 a.m. emergency?), I am very concerned that I am not being as absolutely safe as I could be. My side of the bed is in the corner of the bedroom, with one exterior wall pointing toward a neighbor’s house who has two young children. The other wall points toward the rear neighbors house. I typically use the floor as my safe direction when transferring my gun, but our bedroom is on the second floor and my husband often stays up later than me. Short of buttressing up my walls or floor with bullet-proof material, what would you do?

    • Kathy Jackson says:


      I’d recommend a tiny bit of redecorating for your bedroom. Head over to the hardware store and grab a very large empty pot – one that will hold about 5 gallons. Then fill it with sand and plunk a fake plant inside it. That should provide you with a safe direction and the peace of mind you’re looking for.

      Remember as you move the gun around inside your house, it helps to visualize what your house would look like if you could pull the sheet rock off your walls to see the frame work underneath. Although two by fours studs are placed at intervals where you cannot see them through the wall, the skeleton of your home does have some predictable places where studs and support beams come together. For example, along the floor where the wall and floor meet is one such place – especially in the corner of the room.

  4. Kathy Jackson says:
  5. sscott says:

    Thanks for your reply, Kathy! Good advice.

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