Pistol Packing Dancer

By CodingStrategies on October 5th, 2018

In June 2017 a family in Hertfordshire, England hosted an outdoor Bar-B-Que party. The homeowner was busy grilling pork chops, sausages and steaks much to the dismay of the vegan neighbor next door, who complained about the stench of burning meat. She called the police to put a stop to the offensive odors, but was reminded that it is not against the law to have a BBQ and grill meat outdoors. Not to be deterred, the neighbor again called the police and swore she heard gunshots from the partying carnivores, which created an immediate police response. Dressed in bulletproof gear with weapons raised, armed officers and bomb disposal personnel stormed the back yard of the neighborhood grill master. The surprised host reacted strongly when told that reports of gunfire led the police to believe there may be a terrorist element to the outdoor party. The property owner stated explicitly that the sound of guns resulted from exuberant children engaged in a rambunctious game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Unfortunately, the BBQ party came to a sudden halt when the homeowner was arrested for using profane language to a police officer, and the children were sent inside to watch cartoons. The only thing that remained was for the offended neighbor to disinfect her wallpaper and remove the aroma of cooked animal flesh.

All joking aside, gun safety is important to prevent the accidental or negligent discharge of a firearm. In June 2018, an off-duty FBI agent was demonstrating his dance moves at Mile High Spirits, a bar, distillery and live music venue near Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. As part of the agent’s acrobatic performance, he executed a back handspring. This is a formidable physical maneuver and the firearm in his waistband holster flew onto the dance floor in front of him mid-flip. As illustrated on social media videos, when the agent lunged for the gun it accidentally fired and injured a fellow dance circle participant in the lower leg. According to a Denver police spokesperson, the adult male who was injured was rushed to a local hospital in good condition and is expected to survive the wound.

Police investigators interviewed the agent on scene before releasing him to an FBI supervisor. In addition, surveillance footage will be reviewed and laboratory results obtained to determine if alcohol consumption was a factor in the incident. A representative for the local district attorney’s office would not speculate on possible charges the FBI agent may face. An FBI spokesperson said "the investigation is active, ongoing, and a personnel matter so we cannot provide comment at this time." This individual did not respond to a request for information on what the firearm protocol might be for off-duty agents.

In many states there are restrictions on carrying a weapon into an establishment where liquor is served, although an individual with a concealed carry license can take their gun into a bar in Colorado unless the establishment has a sign stating otherwise. The problems begin when the gun owner starts drinking, because possessing a gun while intoxicated is a crime in Colorado, according to a local attorney. When it comes to drinking while in possession of a firearm, there is not an established legal limit similar to the blood alcohol limits used to determine impaired and drunken driving. The local attorney called the drinking-with-a-gun determination process “subjective.”

Every law enforcement agency has different policies, but they all take it seriously when an officer accidentally discharges a weapon, even when nobody is injured. In addition, most police-issue, semi-automatic handguns have internal safety mechanisms so they don’t accidentally fire unless someone deliberately pulls the trigger. Last, most holsters, including small of back holsters, have some type of release mechanism to keep the gun from being ejected unintentionally. However, not everyone engages these safety measures, as illustrated by this story. And of course, there are ICD-10-CM codes that help describe this unusual episode:

S81.809A - Unspecified open wound, unspecified lower leg, initial encounter

W32.0XXA -  Accidental handgun discharge, initial encounter

Y93.41 - Activity, dancing

Y92.511 - Restaurant or cafe as the place of occurrence of the external cause

And, depending on the laboratory results, the FBI agent may be assigned code:

F10.129 - Alcohol abuse with intoxication, unspecified

Although it is unacceptable for an off-duty officer or agent to injure a fellow dancer, the combination of factors resulting in shooting someone during a backflip while dancing is an impressive feat. However, if it is illegal to drive after a couple of margaritas, it should probably be illegal to have a gun in a venue where there may be inebriated patrons. Bottom line: Don’t carry a gun if you plan on drinking, and never breakdance with an unsecured firearm!