The Dangers of Inadequate Concealed Carry Training

When Debra Monce went into the bathroom stall of the Clarion Hotel in Tampa last Friday and sat down to conduct one of life's biological functions, she certainly didn't mean to hurt anyone.

That said, when she squatted the small-caliber handgun she was carrying fell out of its holster, hit the ground, and went off.

The single bullet went into the next stall. Janifer Bliss -- ironically at the hotel for a women's health conference -- was hit by the bullet in the lower leg. Monce, who has a concealed carry permit, now faces the possibility of being charged by the state attorney's office. She will also probably suffer from a lifetime of jokes involving the phrases "crap shoot" or "shooting someone in the head."

As bizarre as this accidental restroom shooting was, similarly notable incidents involving the legal concealed carry of firearms happen more often you might think -- including at least one other toilet-related incident in the past six months.

A Carl's Jr. restaurant in Centerville, Utah, became the butt of jokes (sorry, couldn't resist) in mid-January when a man attempting to use a toilet also had a nasty discharge of the potentially lethal kind. Like in the Tampa incident, the concealed handgun carrier had his gun in an open-top holster, and when he sat on the toilet, the gun slipped out of the holster and fired when it slammed into the tile floor. Though no other patron was injured by the bullet, the concealed carry permit holder in this incident was injured by shards of flying porcelain from the toilet he destroyed.

The restaurant, having a warped sense of humor, conducted a funeral service for the departed throne, appropriately named "John." While both incidents are odd and amusing (to everyone other than the injured), they are anecdotal data points of a very real and potentially growing problem of a society that has the right to carry concealed weapons, but not the training to carry them responsibly.

As concealed carry permits become more common and the number of permit holders continues to grow, there will logically be a greater number of firearms carried outside of the home. In general this is a good thing, as those states and municipalities that have concealed carry laws typically have lower violent crime rates than those areas that severely limit their citizens' right to defend themselves. That said, an unfortunate side effect of having more guns "out and about" in society is that there has been a corresponding rise in the number of people who have acted negligently with their firearms.

Some have dropped their weapon, as we saw in the cases above. Some have chosen to carry their handgun off-body in a purse, briefcase, or pack and then momentarily leave it where others can access it, with predictably grim results.

And it has been documented all too often that many gun owners -- and not just those with carry permits -- leave firearms "hidden" in places where little hands find them. Those who carry firearms on a regular basis sometimes seem to forget that it is not a benign accessory such as a cell phone or wallet that poses no threat. I've personally witnessed a carry permit holder come home from a day's work and place his wallet, keys, and holstered gun on the bar in his kitchen ... even though he has two small children at home, aged seven and four.