Chaos Ensues After Man Accidentally Shoots Himself And Wife In Church During Gun Safety Talk

Maybe ‘thoughts and prayers’ aren’t the remedy following a shooting, after all. At the First United Methodist Church in East Tennessee, about 20 senior citizens gathered around for a holiday meal. After the meal, the group of elderly churchgoers decided to discuss gun safety. There has, after all, been a spate of mass shootings recently — as many as 317 so far this year. They got the idea for the conversation reportedly after a nearby county’s sheriff’s department held similar seminars at its local churches, according to Tellico Plains Police Chief Russ Parks.

“Well, I’ve got my gun on me,” an 81-year-old member of the church in Tellico Plains said, according to Parks,  The Washington Post reports. The man then pulled out his holster in which he had a .38-caliber Ruger handgun. He promptly removed the magazine for everyone to see, then cleared the chamber and showed the gun to his fellow parishioners.

The churchgoers discussed how to safely bring guns to church, then spoke of the deaths with recent mass shootings, like, for example, the recent Texas massacre in which a gunman shot 26 people dead as they sat in church.

The 81-year-old man put the magazine back into the gun and put the gun back in the holster, Parks explained, but then later, while parishioners were cleaning up, one church member who had missed the demonstration asked the man to see the firearm — and that’s when everything turned chaotic inside the church.

The 81-year-old accidentally pulled the trigger without realizing the gun was loaded, then a  bullet fired across the palm of the man’s hand and toward his 80-year-old wife, who was sitting in a wheelchair next to him, entering her lower left abdomen, then it went out of the right side of her abdomen, into her right forearm and out the backside of her forearm. Following that, the bullet then ricocheted off the wall and landed under his wife’s wheelchair, Parks said.

That prompted panic in the church because some of the folks thought an active gunman was on the premises.

“They had their backs to it,” Parks said. “Somebody hollers, ‘He’s been shot! She’s been shot! Call 911!’

Due to a lot of panic during the calls to 911, the dispatcher assumed someone had entered the church and was shooting, so several schools were put on lockdown.

The injured husband and wife were flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where they are listed critical condition.

We’re waiting for the NRA to say, “If only the wife had a gun, she could have protected herself.”

Image: Ken Wilcox via Flickr, under Creative Commons license 2.0.