Court: No Cause of Action for Gun-Safety Instructor Who Shot Himself

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Hypothesis: One who announces while giving a gun-safety demonstration that he is “the only one in the room professional enough to carry this Glock 40” will shoot himself in the leg with that Glock 40 shortly thereafter.

Research Protocol: Examine cases in which a gun-safety instructor has made statements substantially similar to the foregoing and record the number of such cases in which a leg-shooting occurred.

Results: Research revealed one such case in which such a statement was made.  A self-inflicted leg-shooting occurred in that case almost immediately. Hypothesis proven.

I realize that normally you would set up a controlled experiment to test something like this; you might have, say, 200 gun-safety instructors and have half of them make the statement and half not make it, and then compare the percentage of leg-shootings in each group. But an experiment like that would probably be unethical, dangerous, and not likely to produce funny results. So existing data will have to do.

The case in question is the case of Lee Paige, the former NFL player and DEA agent who managed to shoot himself in the leg during a gun-safety presentation in Tampa in 2004. He sued — not over the shooting per se, but rather because a video clip of the incident was leaked, widely broadcast, and resulted in him allegedly becoming the “target of jokes, derision, ridicule, and disparaging comments.” (Well, not allegedly — he was, including on at least one legal-humor website.) Paige argued that the leak was the DEA’s fault and sued the agency on various theories including one asserting the federal Privacy Act. A judge dismissed Paige’s case on December 29, 2010.

The video had been recorded by an audience member, who turned it over to the DEA during the investigation. In the video (which you can see, and should, at The Smoking Gun), Paige indeed made the statement above while displaying an unloaded Glock 40, which turned out to be a loaded Glock 40 as he then accidentally demonstrated about three seconds later. He does not seem to have been badly wounded, because he actually tried to go on with the demonstration, even having an assistant bring him another gun to use. We’ll never know what would have happened next, because the audience wisely decided not to stick around to find out.

While there were likely a number of problems with the case, the judge granted summary judgment on the grounds that (even after many depositions) Paige could not prove how the video clip had gotten out, and even if he could have, the leaked information was not “private” because the incident took place in front of 50 parents and children (who at least did learn an excellent lesson in gun safety). Case dismissed.

This might provide some lessons for Fountain Lady, who showed up on Good Morning America the other day to complain about the leak of the video showing her walk into a mall fountain while texting. But if she wasn’t smart enough to realize that going on TV was the one way to be sure people would recognize her as the lady in the video (and the fountain), she’s not likely to learn anything from this.