Teacher Accidentally Shoots Student While Demonstrating Gun Safety

Yet another example of the foolishness of having firearms in the schoolhouse.

From the Department of Stuff You Can’t Make Up . . .

WaPo (“Gun-trained teacher accidentally discharges firearm in Calif. classroom, injuring student“):

A teacher who is also a reserve police officer trained in firearm use accidentally discharged a gun Tuesday at Seaside High School in Monterey County, Calif., during a class devoted to public safety. A male student was reported to have sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The weapon, which was not described, was pointed at the ceiling, according to a statement from the school, and debris fell from the ceiling.

Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told the Monterey County Weekly that a male student was “struck in the neck by ‘debris or fragmentation’ from something overhead.” Pridgen said whatever hit the student was not a bullet.

However, the student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW 8 that it was his understanding that fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged in the boy’s neck. The father said the teacher told the class before pointing the gun at the ceiling that he was doing so to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, something that can be determined visually.

“It’s the craziest thing,” Gonzales told the station. “It could have been very bad.”

Gonzales said he learned about the incident when his 17-year-old son came home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck.

“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it,” the father told the TV station.

Gonzales said he learned about the incident when his 17-year-old son came home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck.

“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it,” the father told the TV station.

The teen was treated at a hospital.

The teacher was identified by police as Dennis Alexander, who teaches math as well as a course in the administration of justice. Alexander is a reserve police officer for Sand City and a Seaside city councilman. He could not immediately be reached for comment but he has reportedly apologized for the incident.

The Monterey County Weekly, quoting Sand City Police Chief Brian Ferrante, reported that Alexander had his last gun safety training less than a year ago. “I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom,” Ferrante told KSBW. “We will be looking into that.”

This is just all kinds of stupid.

First off, Chief Ferrante is absolutely correct: Alexander should not have had a loaded weapon in a classroom, much less have been waving it around.

Second, it’s criminal that the parents weren’t notified. My school calls me about every little incident—minor mishaps during recess, potential bullying, and the like—happening to my girls in elementary school. This child was actually wounded. In the head. By either a ricocheting bullet or fragmentation caused by gunfire. And they apparently not only didn’t notify the parents but didn’t report the incident to the police? Multiple people should be fired for that.

Third, this is why arming teachers is a moronic idea. Loaded weapons in school are far more likely to kill or injure students by accident, emotions (fear or anger) getting the better of teachers, or another student stealing it and shooting someone than they are to be used to ward off the incredibly rare spree shooter.

FILED UNDER: Education, Guns and Gun Control
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Bullet fragment flesh wound, makes ya tough yo.




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Look…this is where will we end up with an idiot as President.
    46% of this nation think it’s a good idea for kids like this girl to get shot in the head.




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  3. Mu says:

    Always treat every firearm as though it is loaded. …
    Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. …
    You’d think a gun safety training officer would know those rules by heart.




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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Mu: Yup. That’s like Class 1, Slide 1.




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  5. Kathy says:

    @Mu: You’d think he’d come into the classroom without a loaded gun.




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  6. MarkedMan says:

    This is actually the third incident of an armed teacher having an incident with a gun discharge just since Trump announced his genius NRA idea of arming teachers two weeks ago. There was an incident earlier this week where a coach cleaning his gun in his office accidentally fired it. And there was a really disturbing incident literally the day after Trump’s genius idea where a teacher locked himself in his classroom and wouldn’t let his students in. When they called the principle, the teacher shouted at him through the door and then discharged the gun.




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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The stupid… It hurts. But thankfully not as much as it could have.




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  8. Tyrell says:

    Think about this: my high school used to have a rifle competition team that competed in local and state contests. The team members would bring their rifles to school, sometimes on the school bus. I do not recall any accidents or anyone complaining.
    I think some schools and colleges still have those.
    There is a lesson there somewhere.




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  9. @Tyrell:

    There is a lesson there somewhere.

    I am certain that the lesson isn’t: arm a bunch of teachers.




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  10. TM01 says:

    Agreed. Totally moronic.

    We need to come together right now to make schools Gun Free Zones! For the Children.




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  11. Timothy Watson says:

    Hey, where’s the classic clip of the DEA lecturing about gun safety before shooting himself in the foot?




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  12. michael reynolds says:

    If that was my school, with my kids exposed to a person with a gun, I’d be down there slapping the living sh!t out of whatever idiot administrator allowed this to happen. Bring a gun into a school? No one but a fwcking moron thinks that’s a good idea.




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  13. Hal_10000 says:

    As I said before, school shootings are very rare — maybe once every 150,000 years. Kids are safer in school than they are almost anywhere else. Almost any “solution” is bound to create more problems than it solves. We didn’t arm teachers in the 90’s when twice as many kids were getting shot; we shouldn’t arm them now.




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  14. al-Ameda says:

    Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told the Monterey County Weekly that a male student was “struck in the neck by ‘debris or fragmentation’ from something overhead.” Pridgen said whatever hit the student was not a bullet.

    My guess is that the NRA will be upset that the Police Chief is named ‘Abdul’




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  15. Joe says:

    I have never kept a gun in my house. While I am aware that my decision decreased my chances of protecting my family from any intruder, I am also aware that my decision greatly decreased the chances of anybody in my family getting shot in general. Decreasing my odds in a rare circumstances greatly improved my odds in the prevailing circumstances. I don’t think those advocating for guns in school understand this equation.




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  16. teve tory says:

    I wish i could remember where i heard the story of a cop who stopped a former gang-banger who always carried, but no longer did. The cop asks him why he doesn’t have a gun anymore, and he says, “You got a gun, you get Gun Problems. No gun, no Gun Problems.”




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  17. teve tory says:

    This is the 72nd day of 2018, and if the stats go like last year, around ~7,000 people have been shot in the US so far in 2018. Right now we only see headlines when it’s at a school, which means there’s a pretty distorted media presentation at the moment.




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  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: No one but a fwcking moron or NRA member thinks that’s a good idea, but than I repeat myself.




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  19. Frank says:

    Let’s get serious. Enough cherry picking.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqqJKChKRzI




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  20. teve tory says:

    There are essentially no school shootings in Europe or Japan. I can only assume teachers there are armed to the teeth.




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  21. Steve says:

    The fact it was not reported sounds like right wing PC. You just don’t report stuff like this cause you don’t want to get a responsible gun owner in trouble, and you don’t want say anything negative about find in general.

    Steve




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  22. @Frank: Hey, let the research commence. Unleash the CDC, for example.

    I watched the beginning–and I don’t think anyone thinks that making a place a “Gun Free Zone” stops mass shootings (anymore than making a “Gun Zone” would stop them).

    I would note, however, as per the original post, had the school in question been a
    “Gun Free Zone” the child who was injured would not have been injured.




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  23. Congress Quashed Research Into Gun Violence. Since Then, 600,000 People Have Been Shot.

    Guns in the home protect families.

    For decades, that has been an essential part of the National Rifle Association’s mantra in defending firearms ownership, repeated at congressional hearings, in advertisements and on T-shirts.

    Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who once headed research on firearm violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wondered if there was any evidence backing the N.R.A.’s assertion.

    “So we looked at the question, does having a gun at home protect your family or not?” Dr. Rosenberg recalled.

    He was amazed by the answer. The landmark study in 1993 showed that bringing a gun into the home puts everyone at much greater risk.

    “They were saying if you want to keep your family safe, if you are a real man, you will have a gun at home,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “Bringing the gun not only didn’t protect you, it put you at much, much greater risk.”

    To this day, gun rights advocates dispute the study’s findings. The N.R.A. pushed Congress in 1995 to stop the C.D.C. from spending taxpayer money on research that advocated gun control. Congress then passed the Dickey Amendment in 1996, and cut funding that effectively ended the C.D.C.’s study of gun violence as a public health issue.

    The result is that 22 years and more than 600,000 gunshot victims later, much of the federal government has largely abandoned efforts to learn why people shoot one another, or themselves, and what can be done to prevent gun violence.

    So, yes, let’s do the research. Gather the date. Let’s not intuit. I am more than open to having my mind changed by actual study.




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  24. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: I’m just guessing here–rifle competitions had gone by the board before I was in high school in my state–but I suspect that the students (and coaches) on the rifle team were smart enough to
    1) keep their rifles unloaded until they were up to shoot
    2) keep ammunition and rifles separated from each other
    3) keep their rifles locked in some kind of an equipment room until they left for the competition

    I’m not a firearms guy–stopped being one on the day that I was at a skeet range and a guy behind me, and pointing his shotgun in our group’s direction, asked “where do the bullets go in this thing?”–so I suppose there are other precautions that I missed, but I AM curious about what your point was.




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  25. bookdragon says:

    @Tyrell: The lesson is that once upon a time young people who learned to use rifles were taught by stern people who were serious about both safety and responsibility and would NOT have let them hold a rifle let alone transport one on a bus if they for one moment thought the kid wouldn’t follow The Rules. Moreover, those kids KNEW that if they screwed up, the gun would be taken away. Period. And that would likely be the least of the consequences.

    Compare that to gun culture in the US today and I think you have you’re answer.




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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @teve tory: However there was a guy in China who attacked a kindergarten class, only killing one but injuring a dozen others. Obviously, none of the teachers had knives but did have tourniquets.




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  27. Bob hinkle says:

    This is the wrong story. It’s about a teacher who should be arrested for bringing a gun on campus. Amazing how to issues with teachers and guns since talk of arming them. Almost fake news here.




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  28. inhumans99 says:

    I was kind of hoping this story was a hoax or something like that because I am scratching my head as to why the incident was not reported…did all the students just say sh_t! when the gun fired and just shake it off going about their day, only for one of those students to realize they actually got hit by bullet fragments/debris later when they went home?

    Did no one hear the shot, or bother to investigate, the story sounds like it has a lot of holes in it (pun intended) but so far no one has claimed it is a hoax so yes…James is right that some heads should roll.




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  29. michael reynolds says:

    Can any parent reliably teach their children not to steal a cookie, take ten bucks out of dad’s wallet or never ditch school? No. Absolutely not.

    But we’re supposed to believe they can be taught to be 100% appropriate with guns.

    Riiight.




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  30. gVOR08 says:

    The father said the teacher told the class before pointing the gun at the ceiling that he was doing so to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, something that can be determined visually.

    And apparently pulled the trigger?! I’m speechless…

    Long ago, in Boy Scout training, I was taught that any time you pick up or are handed an unloaded firearm, you clear it. You verify it is not loaded, by opening the action and looking. And you subsequently handle it as though it were loaded. Does the NRA, or this guy’s cop shop, now teach point it up and pull the trigger for fwck sake?

    Several years ago one of the suburban Cincinnati police departments did one of these civilian “training” things. Part of it was a weapon takeaway drill, maybe like in the story above. Unloaded pistols. An officer left the drill, loaded his weapon, and put it in his locker. Already a mistake. He then changed his mind, got his weapon, and rejoined the drill, He forgot he had loaded it and did not clear it. He shot a civilian. Fortunately, he had managed to erroneously load his .40 caliber with a 9mm. So instead of going bang, the gun went phhht, and only bruised the victim badly. This cop was probably better trained than the NRA wants in your schools.

    And, Doug, the picture of Barney Fife is perfect.




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  31. Slugger says:

    Guns do not go off “accidently.” This gun went off due to negligence. This was not a random event like a branch falling off a tree. We sanction people who negligently harm and endanger others.




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  32. DrDaveT says:

    @Joe:

    I don’t think those advocating for guns in school understand this equation.

    Actually, I think some of them do. The advocates are not all alike. You are right that there are many who deny (and will not be educated) that many more people are injured and die as unintended collateral damage than are safely defended. But there is also a significant population who DO NOT CARE that many more die and are injured due to accident, because (a) my family wouldn’t be that stupid, and (b) it’s more important to be free to defend yourself and your family than it is to prevent a lot of other people’s deaths and injuries.

    This is actually something of a pattern with Conservatives. Given a choice between a world where everyone is better off (but a significant fraction are irresponsible freeloaders) and a world where everyone is worse off (but people are held strictly responsible for their actions*), they would advocate for the latter. First, though, they would deny that it is possible, even in principle, for those conditions to hold.

    *In practice, there is an “except my friends and family” exception that reveals this for the tribalism it really is, but let’s ignore that for the moment.




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  33. JKB says:

    That this jackass was a teacher is not how this happened. He had a gun because he had a badge (of sorts). Having a badge, being authorized by your warrant to carry a firearm does not a competent firearms instructor make.

    There was a DEA agent who did similar. These idiots, for some reason, can’t comprehend that you don’t clear a weapon in a crowded room. You don’t remove your loaded weapon from it’s holster except for self defense. A firearm carried for self defense isn’t a show and tell item If you want to take it out of the holster, you bring one unloaded.

    This would be far less likely to happen in they brought in competent firearms instructors. Most likely NRA certified. Certainly wasn’t ever a possibility when I took my carry class. They never put a live round in a firearm and checked all the student weapons at the start of the class. No live rounds in the firearms until on the range for shooting quals.

    As it happens, I was hit by bullet fragments way back when I was in school. One of the lanes on the firing range had a warn backstop and would spit lead when you were in the closest firing distances.




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  34. wr says:

    @JKB: “This would be far less likely to happen in they brought in competent firearms instructors. Most likely NRA certified. Certainly wasn’t ever a possibility when I took my carry class. They never put a live round in a firearm and checked all the student weapons at the start of the class. No live rounds in the firearms until on the range for shooting quals.”

    Sure, because everyone knows that once a person has received training, he never ever ever ever ever does anything that goes counter to that training. That’s why we have nothing but perfect drivers in this country.

    Oh, but wait. Maybe we could put the NRA in charge of all driving instruction, and then there would never be another accident.




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  35. wr says:

    @JKB: I do love the way gun lovers like JKB keep moving the goal posts:

    “We need to arm teachers — then everyone will be safe.”

    Teacher fires gun in class, injures student.

    “We need to train teachers to use guns — then everyone will be safe.”

    Shooting teacher was trained.

    “We need to have law enforcement in the schools — then everyone will be safe.”

    Teacher was also a reserve police officer.

    “We need to make sure that we have armed teachers in schools who have been trained by the gun manufacturers’ lobbying organization — then everyone will be safe.”

    And when it turns out this assclown was NRA certified, JKB will move the goalposts again.




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