Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Questioning Bruce Holbert’s gun accident in the New York Times

Written By: Bob - Apr• 29•13

The New York Times never misses a chance to wave the bloody shirt to champion gun control, and they were happy to give some novelist name Bruce Holbert a chance to lament a gun accident in which he shot and killed his friend. Quite frankly, it looks a lot like manslaughter:

…I never had much interest in guns. Yet it is I who killed a man.

It was the second week in August, a Friday the 13th, in fact, in 1982. I was with a group of college roommates who were getting ready to go to the Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. Three of us piled into a red Vega parked outside a friend’s house in Okanogan, Wash., me in the back seat. The driver, who worked with the county sheriff’s department, offered me his service revolver to examine. I turned the weapon onto its side, pointed it toward the door. The barrel, however, slipped when I shifted my grip to pull the hammer back, to make certain the chamber was empty, and turned the gun toward the driver’s seat. When I let the hammer fall, the cylinder must have rotated without my knowing. When I pulled the hammer back a second time it fired a live round.

My friend, Doug, slumped in the driver’s seat, dying, and another friend, who was sitting in the passenger seat, raced into the house for the phone.

There is no double-action service revolver of the 20th century that requires the hammer to be thumbed back to open the cylinder to check for the presence of cartridges. Not one.

Opening and closing 20th century revolvers does not require thumbing back the hammer to open the cylinder, as this Colt illustration shows. In fact, such operation is prevented by design in most (if not all) models because of the inherent safety risks.

Opening and closing 20th century revolvers does not require thumbing back the hammer to open the cylinder, as this Colt illustration shows. In fact, such operation is prevented by design in most (if not all) models because of the inherent safety risks.

Nor are there are there any properly functioning revolvers that can fire when their hammers are being pulled back. It is a physical impossibility,  as the hammer has to fall forward for the gun to fire, and physics precludes the hammer moving in opposite directions at once.

This cutaway image of a double-action revolver's lockwork clearly shows the hammer and it's relation to the firing pin. The gun cannot fire without the hammer moving forward to strike the firing pin.

This cutaway image of a double-action revolver’s lockwork clearly shows the hammer and it’s relation to the firing pin. The gun cannot fire without the hammer moving forward to strike the firing pin.

Bruce Holbert is manufacturing what occurred. The firearm in his story cannot be discharged in the manner as described. The service revolver was pointed at victim Doug, and either Bruce Holbert pulled the trigger, causing the weapon to discharge, or he released the hammer with the trigger already pulled, allowing it to slam forward, firing the shot while pointing at the victim.

Whether the investigators decided to charge Holbert with manslaughter or murder or drop charges entirely is their affair, but the homicide described by Bruce Holbert could not have happened the way he described.

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11 Comments

  1. Jaynie59 says:

    My only expposure to guns came in the 1980′s when I worked in Vermont for 5 years. I’ve never held a gun. But the set-up to this story makes no sense. The author claims they were college students and one of them “worked with” the country sheriff’s department. So maybe he was a cadet volunteer? They don’t get issued “service revolvers”. Do they?

    The other thing that doesn’t ring true is that any man, even a young college student, would ever just hand over a loaded handgun like that. The men I knew in Vermont who had guns would never do something like that. Yeah, they shot each others guns, but it was always outside and at targets. It was actually kind of fun to watch. Like Top Shot. But they were very careful. The whole story seems fake to me.

  2. Tarheel Repub says:

    I read the full article and the take-away messages are simple:

    1. If you aren’t comfortable around firearms, don’t handle them.

    2. If you don’t know how they work, don’t handle them until you go through gun safety training.

    3. If you have a firearm, don’t give it to someone you know isn’t comfortable with them, especially when the firearm is loaded.

    4. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire (my children knew this before they were teens).

    5. Never point a weapon at anyone unless you mean to do them harm.

    This article sounds more like a whitewash of what probably happened. A bunch of dumb-asses in a car playing with a loaded weapon. Not sure how background checks or weapon bans keeps this guy from dying.

    Tarheel Repub Out!

  3. Jack says:

    There is no statute of limitations on murder. The admission and falsehoods in this self-incriminating article indicate a substantial number of questions need to be answered.

    This case needs to be reopened.

  4. Tam says:

    Judging from the description of his actions, it was a single-action revolver and not his friend’s “service revolver”.

    I think an awful lot of assumption is being made over a “clip/magazine” terminology error here.

  5. Tam says:

    (Or you’re absolutely right and his subconscious has invented the mechanical error to assuage his guilt for the “I don’t know what happened! It just went off!” because there’s no way the sequence of events makes sense with a DA revolver…)

  6. Randell Beck says:

    Actually, the whole thing sounds like fiction in pursuit of an agenda. Rememebr, these people worship victim status – no matter how they have to get it.

  7. Stel says:

    Another example of someone untrained in Gun Safety, having NO business handling a firearm and having an anti-firearm mindset.

  8. Thomas says:

    Actually, I CAN imagine someone, particularly a college student, (and particularly if they had been drinking), being foolish enough to let someone handle a loaded gun in a car. Heck, people a lot older that college students choose to drive drunk/stoned all the time – that’s no less dangerous or foolhardy.

    But this DOES sound a lot like manslaughter to me, because I can’t imagine a reason to pull a hammer back (or pull a trigger) in that situation OTHER than to “Play” with the gun. So I have to agree with others – this is either a complete fabrication, or at a minimum a significant “whitewash.”

    Its difficult to imagine “it just went off” being an acceptable “excuse” in 2013 – but apparently it was in 1982?

  9. dekar says:

    This story is absolutely manslaughter. I am a former cop and now an attorney. I would LOVE to be a prosecutor in his hometown where this event happened. I would charge this guy in a second…and with his confession…I would WIN. The way he described it I don’t see murder 1 or 2, but involuntary manslaughter…yes. No intent, but negligence and recklessness for sure. If he was pointing the gun at the door like he says, then how did it hit the driver? It is obvious he pointed it at the driver. What the heck is he doing pulling back the hammer repeatedly in order to verify it is loaded? He obviously had no idea what he was doing, but decided to play with the gun anyway. All I have to prove is he knows that guns are dangerous, he handled a gun in a very negligent manner, pointed it at a person and that person is now dead. I would get a conviction.

    Anyway, this guy’s story seems to want to blame the gun and not himself. How progressive of him.

  10. navyvet says:

    I doubt the individual who handed the revolver to the writer was a sworn officer. No LEO I know would hand a novice a loaded weapon to “examine”. In fact, I would never hand anyone a loaded firearm unless there was an immediate need to use it in defense of himself or others.

  11. Daniel says:

    I grew up a couple hours south of there, and have spent a bit of time in the Omak/Okanogan area. The chances of anybody from the area being foolish enough to hand a gun over to a friend without explaining how it works are slim to none.