mon-kid-ar15“Defensive Shopping” in a Gun Society

Americans regularly adjust to new dangers in society.

A new danger has arisen: irresponsible people carrying guns in public. People are getting accidentally shot, and sometimes killed, every day. It hasn’t gotten much attention yet, but the stories are out there.

Millions of Americans now carry handguns in public. To get a lifetime concealed carry permit in Indiana, all I had to do was fill out an application, and send a check and my fingerprints to the state. No training or proof of proficiency (like a driver’s test) was required. This is scary.

Hundreds of guns are accidentally firing in public—what is termed either an “accidental discharge” or a “negligent discharge.” People are getting accidentally shot as they go about their everyday lives—shopping, eating out, watching movies, attending church, or just sitting at home watching TV. Bullets are flying freely. It’s cause for what I call “defensive shopping.”

For a while now, I’ve been compiling incidents of accidental discharges. It’s amazing—and alarming—how much this is happening. And it will only increase in frequency, as more and more people carry guns in public, with fewer and fewer restrictions. This isn’t a political statement about gun rights (I’m a gun owner with a concealed carry permit). It’s about public safety. We’ve chosen to be a society with numerous everyday people carrying guns in public, just as we chose to be a society that lets 16-year-olds drive cars. Both have risks.

Below are numerous incidents of accidental discharges during the last few years. I’ve read hundreds of reports. Very frequently, they say someone was “playing” with a gun, or “didn’t realize it was loaded.” Many shootings occur because people keep a round in the chamber, ready to be fired. Gun advocates tell you that handguns have safety features that prevent them from firing if dropped…yet it happens all the time.

Tales of accidental discharges have been compiled by many others. Go to the  GunViolenceArchive. Or Google “gunfail.” I’ve tried to boil the incidents down to a sentence or two.

The incidents below mostly involve people going about their everyday lives. These involve guns going off, and usually hitting (or killing) someone in public places–stores, restaurants, schools, theaters, etc. I also included stories of bullets flying into homes and apartments thanks to the person living next door. Stories of people doing what they do, and suddenly a bullet crashes in—not from a criminal, but by ordinary citizen who makes a mistake handling a gun.

insideholsterI have NOT included the hundreds of accidental shootings in contexts where people intentionally handle guns—hunting, gun ranges, police work. You would expect some accidental discharges in these contexts. Nor have I included the hundreds of shootings which occur every year at home, particularly with children finding guns (about 100 children are killed, and many others wounded, every year in this way). Those stories are very disturbing. If your kids play with other kids in the homes of gun owners, you need to be very wary. (Moms: read this article.)

We Americans need to accept and adjust to this new danger in society. We need to be aware of people carrying loaded firearms, and not (as the NRA would have us believe) just assume they are responsible and trained. Rather, as with defensive driving, we need to assume that the other person is NOT responsible.





Grocery Stores

Movie Theaters

Public Restrooms


Other Public Places


Apartment Living



In Vehicles

Parking Lots


Gun Shows

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