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January 26, 2009

Bottoms Up

On January 13, a 26 year-old Salt Lake City man was using the restroom of a local restaurant when his concealed handgun went off unintentionally. The gun, a .40-caliber Kahr P40, apparently fell out of the man’s pants as he was pulling them up, hit the tile floor, and fired. The bullet struck the toilet beneath him, sending sharp pieces of porcelain flying. Some of this shrapnel lodged in the man’s arm, causing minor injuries. While no one else was hurt, an employee of the restaurant in the next-door women’s restroom was treated for chest pains after hearing the gun shot and panicking.

The man, whose name is being withheld by authorities, holds a permit to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Utah. Utah is a “shall issue” state, meaning that concealed carry permits are issued to applicants who pass a background check and complete four hours of firearm safety training.

According to Centreville Police Lieutenant Paul Child, “the accident would have been prevented if the man had used a secure holster. A good quality firearm also should not fire if it is dropped.” Several visitors to the Deseret News website, however, questioned why an individual would need to have a loaded handgun in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant.

Police confiscated the man’s handgun at the scene, but have indicated that the firearm will soon be released back to him. No charges have been pressed against him nor is there any indication that authorities will seek to revoke his concealed carry permit. There is apparently little concern that the man could have killed an innocent bystander, or that he violated several of the National Rifle Association’s most basic gun safety rules, including “ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use” and “Remember, a gun's mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.”

One Deseret News commenter mocked the gun lobby’s talking points in capturing the absurdity of the incident: “Guns don't kill people,” he/she said. “Toilets do.”