Normally when I hear about an accidental shooting my first thought is “bullshit.” Guns don’t just go off on their own; they require some human stupidity for an “accidental” discharge. However I came across a very sad story about an Army vet in Iowa who died after shooting himself in the leg that I believe really was an accident. At the very least, it is a case of everything that could go wrong going wrong.
WKOW reports that 45-year old Martin Lawrence had just driven to his home in Elk Run Heights, IA late last Friday. He had what is being described as a .38 caliber Derringer-style handgun in his possession. He had a permit to carry the weapon and it was held in a holster.
As he got out of the car, the gun fell to the ground. Police say the hammer of the gun struck the pavement and caused the weapon to discharge. Lawrence was hit in the leg.
“Unfortunately the gun, when dropped ,hit the ground on the hammer which caused the weapon to fire and strike Mr. Lawrence,” Chief Deputy Rick Abben said.
Modern handguns are supposed to be manufactured to be “drop-safe” meaning they won’t fire when dropped to the ground so either Lawrence had an older model or something else was going on.
After a little research I have learned that in order for the safety to be engaged on some Derringers the weapon must be half-cocked. The problem with doing this is that in half-cocked mode the hammer is in contact with the firing pin, which means that any impact can cause the weapon to fire. The weapon can’t be fired by pulling the trigger, but it can go off if dropped.
“There is nothing to indicate that Mr. Lawrence was reckless in his handling of the weapon,” Abben added.
Around 12:30am Black Hawk County deputies arrived on the scene where Lawrence was on the ground with CPR being administered to him. You’d think that a .38 slug to the leg would hurt like a son-of-a-bitch but wouldn’t be all that fatal. However if the round severed an artery a person would bleed out before paramedics even arrived but that’s not what happened.
Authorities think that the bullet enter Lawrence’s leg and traveled up into his body causing catastrophic internal injuries. An autopsy is pending.
Lawrence was a probation officer with the Department of Corrections for 15 years and a 20-year veteran of the US Army. He was also involved with the local chapter of the NAACP. He was married and had two daughters.
Like I said, this is a very tragic story and clearly an accident. Everything that could go wrong did, but it’s not like Lawrence was doing anything stupid or dangerous. He didn’t violate any of the four rules of gun safety; he was just a victim of Murphy’s Law.
This is one of those cosmic quirks where a guy like Martin Lawrence wasn’t doing anything we would consider fooloish and he ends up dying while a jackass like Jose Canseco treats his guns like toys and only loses a finger.