I met some of my good shooting friends at the local private gun range yesterday for a little practice. As a member of the club, I've got access (on a first-come, first-served basis) to a number of bays. You can drive your car down to the bays and park there, which is convenient. While it's a private club, you have folks there who are casual shooters at best, and we've learned through experience not to assume that membership implies competence.
We got our range bags out and followed protocol on un-bagging and holstering our firearms, with one or more of us supervising each other. I think everyone there was a certified range officer. You can't be too safe, ya know?
In the next bay, the one on the end, a white SUV pulled up, and 3 guys got out, one of them older than the other two. The older guy was the club member, it turns out. We didn't pay much attention, but commented to each other to keep an eye out, until we had a feel for their gun-handling skills.
We got a pretty good feel rather quickly.
Attending to our business, we heard a "bang," followed by some deafening silence. We looked over and saw 3 very surprised faces at the tailgate of the SUV. We asked if everyone was okay twice, with no response. I walked over, and asked again. They replied in the affirmative.
The guilty party was standing there with what looked like a Keltec POS in .22 or .25, and he said, "I was unloading the gun." I replied that he had certainly accomplished removing one round from the gun, so let's see what's left, safely. The mag was still in, so I instructed him to remove that, then show me a clear gun, then pull the trigger, then bag the gun.
I asked where the hole was, and he pointed to the deck that covers the spare tire, which likely suffered a mortal injury. I can only assume the gas tank wasn't punctured, too.
I actually had to explain to this club member that we don't handle firearms in our cars at this club. Use the safe area - there's consideration for people who don't know how to handle firearms there, so if you DO have an accidental/negligent discharge, it's in a controlled environment, and hopefully nobody or nothing gets perforated in the process.
I don't know what responsibility, if any, I have as a member of that club to tell this guy to put his stuff away and come back when he knew what he was doing, so I just urged him to do the right thing, mind his muzzle and trigger, and don't shoot any of us. If it had been me, I'd have been too embarrassed to stay, but unbelievably, he stayed. Not only that, but I saw him explaining gun safety to the 2 others with him.
Moral of the story? Rather than the obvious gun safety lesson which, no matter how many times is repeated, is lost on so many people, I'd rather provide this advice: any time you're at a gun range with other people you don't know (and sometimes, when you are), don't assume that you won't get shot. Some stupid people own firearms, and don't know the first thing about safety. They're not mean or malicious, they're just ignorant. This can create a very dangerous situation. Don't feel bad about ratting out bad gun discipline to the local range officers. Don't enable bad behaviors at the range.