There are many thousands of shooting instructors in the United States, who teach tens of thousands of students to shoot every year. Despite the best of intentions and the best of precautions, mistakes sometimes occur, and accidents happen.
Most of the time that comes as a mechanical breakdown of a gun that is relatively minor. Occasionally, there is an early or late shot due to a lack of concentration that is fired downrange. On much more rare occasions a gun will catastrophically fail, permanently damaging the gun and injuring a shooter.
The nightmare scenario for any instructor is the harm of a student, especially at the hands of the instructor. 73-year-old veteran instructor Terry J. Dunlap Sr. has now lived that nightmare:
A gun-safety class in Fairfield County for people seeking permits to carry concealed weapons went wrong on Saturday when the instructor accidentally shot a student.
Terry J. Dunlap Sr., who runs a shooting range and training center at 6995 Coonpath Rd. near Lancaster, was demonstrating a hand gun in the classroom when he fired a .38-caliber bullet that ricocheted off a desk and into student Michael Piemonte’s right arm.
Dunlap, 73, also is a long-time Violet Township trustee who is running for re-election in November.
Piemonte feels lucky. It could have been worse, he said today. He and his wife, Allison, both 26 and residents of Pataskala in Licking County, attended the day-long concealed-carry class together, he said.
Fortunately, several students in the course were nurses and they were able to render first aid until EMS arrived to transport Mr. Peimonte to the hospital. He was treated and released that evening, and so it appears the wound was relatively minor.
From what I’ve picked up, Dunlap has been instructing civilians and police for decades without a mishap. A former student claims in the comments of the article that he is among the most safety-conscious instructors he has ever known. All it took was a few seconds of violating several of the Four Rules for those decades of good work to be tarnished.
Of course, part of the problem with the “four rules” is that there should be a a fifth rule observed at any time there is more than person present.
We all own the safety rules.
If an observant student quickly reminded Mr. Dunlap that he hadn’t cleared the weapon in front of the class, this scenario could have been avoided.