The video of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a public gun range has hit the internet this week. While graphic and upsetting, this tragedy teaches a lesson about the reality of unpredictable behavior on a public range.

While working with an instructor, the shooter deliberately turns the gun on themselves and pulls the trigger. The bullet passes through their abdomen at a downward angle, and hits the instructor in the leg. The shooter clearly arches their body while pulling the trigger, but poor video quality makes it difficult to determine the exact angle of their shot. Viewers speculate that the shot may have traveled at a lateral angle and exited the shooter’s left side below the armpit. Afterwards the shooter drops the weapon and slumps in a chair while the instructor struggles on the ground.

Some people argue that the shooter was trying to holster the weapon and that the shot was a negligent discharge. One problem with this assessment, where’s the holster? Even if there was a shoulder rig, which there is not, the weapon was turned and placed against the center of the chest.

If you choose to watch the video below, try to think about these things:

  • There was no warning — The shooter displays no signs of disturbed behavior. They fire one shot down range, then casually turn the weapon on themselves.
  • FMJ rounds penetrate — Self defense instructors recommend hollow-points instead of FMJ target rounds for this very reason. If you are defending yourself with target rounds, your likelihood of hitting whatever lies beyond the threat increases dramatically. If the gunshot is considered intentional, the shooter could be charged with second-degree murder instead of involuntary manslaughter. Even if she didn’t know the penetration capabilities of her ammunition, “killing caused by dangerous conduct” is considered murder. That’s something to consider before loading your daily carry with FMJs.
  • A shot to the chest didn’t drop them — In the movies, 9mm rounds send bad guys flying through doors and windows. In reality, a single gunshot wound from a handgun isn’t always going to stop the threat. This shooter took a point blank shot to the chest and barely stepped backward.
  • Death was not instant — Soldiers and peace-keepers are trained to aim for center of mass. They’re also trained to keep firing until the threat stops. A point blank shot to the chest will likely result in death, but it’s not necessarily instantaneous. The shooter has plenty of time to assess their wound and address the injured instructor. The surveillance video shows them drop the weapon, hold their wound, and walk over to a nearby chair.
  • Panic is overwhelming — The instructor was probably armed, but chose flight over fight. Adrenaline and fear can cripple you faster than a bullet.

Gun range suicides don’t happen every day, but they are more common than most people realize. It’s not easy to spot warning signs in the minutes before someone attempts to harm themselves. The instructor was wounded, but it’s doubtful that was the shooter’s intention. Even after taking a round to the chest, they could have easily shot the instructor multiple times as he lay on the ground suffering. The instructor’s injury was essentially collateral damage from the shooter’s desire to take their own life.

Always maintain situational awareness, especially when entering a public range.


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