Thursday, October 22, 2015

Training – Accidental, Negligent, Complacent, Ignorant, Stupid


On the evening of Friday, October 16th Cody Deneault and his pregnant wife went to the movie theater in Salina, KS to celebrate his birthday. In his pocket was loaded and UNSHOLSTERED handgun. I’m sure you know where this is going . . . during the movie he stuck his hand inside his pocket to adjust its position . . . and shot himself in the leg.

From the news article’s interview with him . . . (Links to the news story and another blog’s thoughts are at the end of this post)

Let’s chat a bit about this incident and the “mindset” of Cody Deneault in the aftermath of the event.


  • arising from extrinsic causes
  • occurring unexpectedly or by chance
  • happening without intent or through carelessness and often with unfortunate results


  • marked by or given to neglect especially habitually or culpably
  • failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances


  • marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies


  • destitute of knowledge or education,
  • lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified
  • resulting from or showing lack of knowledge


Lest some think I am riding atop my high horse, I too have experience an unexpected discharge of a firearm causing a lifelong memory as intense as if it happened this past weekend.

It was in the opening weeks of pheasant season in Michigan. My dad had passed away 6 or 7 years earlier and my mom was intent that I would be able to go hunting if I so desired. On the day in question she rushed home from her job at the post office, we loaded up my dad’s full choke 12ga Browning semiautomatic shotgun, hopped into the car and drove to a 20 acre plot of land we owned so I could walk the fields for a bit before it got dark. This was my first time hunting with the 12ga and, frankly, I was unfamiliar with how it worked. I figured out how to put 3 or so rounds in it, I knew enough that I should put it on “safe” before I started walking and I did know about “safe directions”. What I didn’t know was . . . which way was safe? When you could see the red band . . . or when you couldn’t?. To me, at age 12-14 what made perfect sense was that if I could see red . . . that would STOP the trigger. You know stop signs are red . . . right? So, before we headed into the field I thought I would test my theory. I pressed the safety so I could see the red band, I was smart enough to know what a safe direction was, I positioned the butt stock firmly in my crotch . . . I know, I know . . . the home of my future progeny . . . and pressed the trigger fully expecting to not have the trigger go anywhere because . . . red band . . . stop sign . . . it all sounded so reasonable in my head when I worked it out.

Imagine my utter shock when Goliath of Old Testament times appeared out of nowhere and promptly kicked me in the balls with his number 50s!!! I was stunned!! I was breathless!! My mom, being entirely clueless of my balls-on science experiment, hollered over to my row . . . “Did you shoot one honey?!?!?” I must confess I never told her this story though if she’s looking over my shoulder I hope she knows how much I loved her for taking me hunting and that she is having a good chuckle with my dad over my story.

So in that instance, I had a purposeful discharge of a firearm, in a safe direction to wring out an experiment because I was ignorant. Stupid perhaps, but I’ll stick with ignorant simply because everything was done with purpose and in a safe direction. On the plus side . . . I’ve never forgotten the lesson . . . ever! And, was still able to have a great son and daughter a few years down the road so no lasting damage was done.

“Hunt for Red October” Admiral Josh Painter: “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.”

As Admiral Painter put it . . . if we allow the way we handle our defensive firearm to get out of control . . . if we are carless . . . if we are complacent . . . if we are stupid . . . we’ll will be lucky to leave this life with the same number of holes with which we entered.

You carry a loaded defensive handgun to protect your life, the lives of your family or someone in your charge. And while we all hear of the “21 foot rule”, the “2 second rule” and a host of other “rules” surrounding our ability to present our defensive handgun quickly enough to stop a threat . . . the FBI boils it down in a slightly different way. Approximately 86% of all engagements happen within 12 to 15 feet. Up close and personal. Working to be quick enough to engage a real threat at that distance should be the goal of all of us.

So in Mr. Deneault case . . . what went wrong. Let’s look at how he characterized his “misshap”.

  • “I think I either bumped the trigger or pushed it the wrong way or something and it went off,” Cody said.
  • “I’d say my biggest mistake here was probably I didn’t have a holster,” he said. “And that is on me, for sure.”

There was no accident here . . . bumping a trigger . . . pushing it the wrong way . . . is not an accident when the weapon is buried in your pocket, you are seated in a theater and the lights are out. Oh . . . and this little gem . . . “my biggest mistake here was probably I didn’t have a holster” . . . that is NOT an accident . . . that is negligence, pure and simple. What lead to this?

I suspect complacency played no small part. “I was in the military!” “I’m a law enforcement officer!” “I’ve been shooting all my life!” These statements attempt to characterize the shooter as someone skilled in the use of a handgun. Actually military service or LEO experience does little to guarantee the shooter is experienced in the use of their handgun. In fact, I fine that most in these categories spend little range time getting real work done – most focus on “qualifying” . . . and little else. I suspect Mr. Deneault fell into this trap convincing that his military time suddenly gave him skills that he’s actually spent little time on.

Ignorance certainly played a role here. Had he taken any serious coursework regarding defensive carry he would have – at the very least – insured that he had a proper holster for his pocket carry and that he was reasonably proficient in drawing it smoothly and quickly. Ignorance can be a killer . . . did you take advanced work this year? Did you take any coursework this year? How’s that range time coming?

As reluctant as I am to use a more coarse term . . . Stupid easily applies here.

  • given to unintelligent decisions or acts
  • acting in an unintelligent or careless manner

The choice to pocket carry without a holster that covers the trigger is certainly an unintelligent decision and making such a decision is undoubtedly carless. In reading his responses to the reporter it is apparent he has learned little from this experience. I would not be surprised to see his name in the paper somewhere down the road in some very similar circumstance.

He good news? He shot himself . . . and not his wife, or unborn child, or anyone else in the theater. And I pray a light goes on somewhere that will lead him to more training and to a place where he takes his responsibility of carrying a defensive weapon a bit more seriously.

Bottom line . . . don’t be stupid!


  1. Gun in the pocket with NO HOLSTER TO COVER THE TRIGGER, sorry, very stupid.

  2. I would also go with stupid... It's NOT hard to find a holster for pocket carry. And he's lucky he ONLY shot himself...

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  4. Always learn something from your posts, please keep them coming. Was in a new gun shop in town the other day looking for snap caps, when a salesman handed a rifle to a customer, neither treated it like it could be loaded, and actually swept me... won't be going back there.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Brighid - it is my intent to continue to offer what I can. I had the exact same experience when I was looking for a subcompact 9mm. Salesman pulled it out of the case - chamber closed, magazine in the gun - and pointed it right at my midsection as he handed it to me. I shared with him my thoughts in a rather direct fashion - and have not been back since. Amazing how "professionals" can be so careless!

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