accidental discharge
Guests attend a crowded event at the Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar. (Image via Mile High Spirits)
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accidental discharge
Guests attend a crowded event at the Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar. (Image via Mile High Spirits)

If this can happen to an FBI agent, it could easily happen to anyone.

On Saturday, at approximately 12:45 a.m., an off-duty FBI agent was busting a move at the Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar in Denver when his weapon misfired and hit a bystander in the leg.

The agent was in the middle of executing a break-dancing backflip when his weapon fell from his belt onto the floor. Upon picking up the handgun, it accidentally discharged and hit a club patron. The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.

A video of the entire incident has since gone viral in what resembles a poorly filmed scene from a comedy film.

Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar is only a mile from the University of Colorado Denver’s campus. The Denver police brought the agent into custody before releasing him to the jurisdiction of the FBI.

The reason for the weapon’s accidental discharge has not been reported, but the agent might have been intoxicated or failed to adopt safe gun procedure around the time of the incident.

Although the incident is still under investigation, a patron gun owner made a statement to Channel 4 CBS Denver. “You can not carry if you’re in a bar or an establishment if you’ve been drinking,” the unidentified patron said.

“I would certainly hope that alcohol was not involved, because being a gun owner myself and being part of a community that cares about gun safety, I’m very responsible with my firearms.”

Open carry law in the city of Denver bans individuals from carrying weapons openly, despite Colorado state gun law, which allows individuals to openly carry weapons and obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.

FBI agents are permitted to bypass carrying laws while in the line of duty, but the agent involved in the accidental discharge incident was clearly not on the clock. The FBI declined to make a statement about rules regarding off-duty agents carrying their firearms.

Regardless of carrying laws or law enforcement exceptions, Section 18-12-106 of the Colorado Revised Statutes declares possessing a firearm while intoxicated as a class 2 misdemeanor.

Due to the viral popularity of the video, many on Twitter and other social media platforms have used the accidental discharge incident to highlight issues of gun rights. The case of a trained professional misfiring a gun shows how dangerous arming the untrained can be.

Walter Gilman, a professor at Yale University, tweeted about the incident and said “Here is the danger of arming teachers (if you multiple [sic] this one agent by about 3.6 million US teachers).”

In 2010, unintentional firearm injuries, including injuries caused by accidental discharge, killed 606 people. Less than a decade later, in 2017, an abundance of reports of injuries and deaths related to accidental discharge publicly emerged.

The reports included a man who shot himself and his wife in a Tennessee church while discussing the importance of carrying a weapon, an NRA employee who shot himself during a training program at the NRA headquarters and the tragic death of a man whose weapon fell from his holster and fired while he was driving with his baby in the car.

Such examples are only a few of the many which exist. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum or issues of gun control, you can support and abide by guidelines which educate individuals how to properly handle and store their weapons.

The district attorney’s office will provide additional updates on the investigation.

Writer Profile

Jamie Lovley

University of Maine
Journalism and Psychology

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