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The weekend shooting took place inside Park Meadows mall.
The weekend shooting took place inside Park Meadows mall.
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Accidentally Shooting Yourself Isn't Always a Laughing Matter

At around 5:49 p.m. on Sunday, October 20, according to the City of Lone Tree Twitter account, a customer at Park Meadows mall brought his shopping excursion to a premature end by accidentally shooting himself in the leg with a concealed weapon.

Funny? Probably not to him, but since his wounds weren't life-threatening, the episode could certainly have been worse. For every accidental shooting that results in minor injuries and easy laughs, however, there are others leading to tragedy. The latter stand as reminders that a single moment of inattentiveness or irresponsible behavior can have consequences impossible to reverse.

A Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment study determined that 1.3 percent of gun deaths in the state between 2005 and 2012 were unintentional when applied to individuals of all ages, and that figure rose to 4.7 percent for those ages nineteen and younger. More recently, a Colorado Sun analysis found that of 20,669 firearms deaths here from 1980 to 2018, 442 were classified as accidental.

Of course, not every incident during which a person inadvertently catches his or her own bullet leads to a casualty, as the following Westword reports from recent years demonstrate.

• In October 2010, Boulder's Sanford Rothman shot himself in the knee, apparently while sleepwalking.

• In November 2012, a CU Denver staffer was telling co-workers about a possible stalker when she pulled out her .22 caliber handgun and mistakenly shot herself and a colleague. Her employment at the university was subsequently terminated.

• In October 2013, Colorado Springs's Joseph Gunderson was handling a newly purchased 9mm handgun when he accidentally discharged it into his left palm, with the chunk of lead also piercing his roommate in his right arm and left side.

• In August 2014, a man who was cleaning his gun while stuck in Lafayette traffic accidentally shot himself in the leg. The 53-year-old man was on his way to a sporting-goods store, where he planned to trade in the gat.

• During a June 2016 visit to Dallas, former Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib shot himself in the leg but was apparently too drunk to remember doing it.

FBI Agent Chase Bishop was sentenced to probation after his gun discharged while Bishop was doing a backflip at Mile High Distillery last year.
FBI Agent Chase Bishop was sentenced to probation after his gun discharged while Bishop was doing a backflip at Mile High Distillery last year.
Denver Police Department

A pair of related matters are also worth mentioning. In June 2015, Colorado Springs police reported that Adam Hirtle shot himself in the foot to see how it felt. And in June 2018, the gun carried by an FBI agent fell out of his pants and discharged while he was executing a backflip at Mile High Distillery, striking a fellow patron. That December, the agent, Chase Bishop, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation.

Bishop's dangerous dance became a national punchline thanks to coverage by The Daily Show and other comedy platforms. But this shooting, and the others listed above, could easily have caused a loss of life had the projectile been aimed differently by a few feet, or mere inches, in some instances. And when that happens, the consequences can be heartbreaking, as illustrated by the sad case of Anastasia Adair, a 22-year-old who shot and killed herself in May 2013 when showing off her new assault rifle.

And then there are the all-too-frequent stories of toddlers or young children who perished because they got their hands on a gun that hadn't been stored properly, as seen in these examples of past Westword reporting.

• "Ethan Hearty, Denver toddler, dies after finding gun in grandparents' Utah home" (July 2012)

• "Dione Warren, proud gun owner, busted after toddler son shoots and kills himself" (December 2013)

• "Adrian Chavez, Accused Toddler-Shooting Gun Owner, Was in SWAT Team Standoff With Mom" (August 2014)

• "9-Year-Old Accidentally Shot With James Howard's Gun Dies, No Charges Yet" (January 2016)

• "Jalecc Taylor's Probation in Little Brother's Death Actually a Life Sentence, DA Says" (February 2017)

• "Monica Abeyta's Toddler Shoots Another" (June 2017)

Such accounts put the accidental shooting at Park Meadows into perspective. In this context, such incidents are the polar opposite of humorous.

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