Safety: This is Doing it Wrong

Victim James Baker

Victim James Baker

The first report was dry and brief, but was enough to let anyone know that something had come unglued seriously:

Officials say a man has been fatally shot in an apparent accident during a concealed carry class at a gun shop in Ohio.

The Clermont County sheriff says the unidentified man was shot in the neck around 1 p.m. Saturday and died at the scene. There were about 10 people in the concealed carry class when the shooting occurred at KayJay Gun Shop in Amelia, about 20 miles east of Cincinnati.

According to the gun shop’s website, the class taught basic pistol safety, gave attendees range time and reviewed Ohio’s gun laws.

via Man fatally shot in accident during class at Ohio gun shop.

The first story neither identified the victim, nor explained anything about how this happened. More detail was soon available on Fox 19:

The owner of a gun shop was accidentally shot and killed during a concealed carry class in Amelia, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office confirms.

Crews responded to the the Kay Jay Gun Shop on Lindale-Mt. Holly Rd. around 1 p.m. on Saturday for reports of a shooting.

Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg said James E. Baker, 64, was shot in the neck after a class participant discharged a handgun while practicing weapon malfunction drills, striking Baker who was sitting in an adjacent room.

Investigators said efforts to resuscitate Baker were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Something went seriously wrong in that class.

If the Four Rules (or however many are in your version) had been followed assiduously, nobody gets shot. A firearm has zero tolerance for inattention to detail.


An updated story described neighbors’ and friends’ feelings of loss (warning, autoplay video with loud ad. The mute button is your friend):

Baker’s gun shop offers a long list of training courses to teach people to use guns like rifles and pistols the correct way.

Now, many in this tight-knit community say they are devastated knowing he won’t be here to do that anymore.

“He’s just a great guy, I mean, I can’t believe it happened, it’s hard to believe, just a really good guy,” Fritz said. “I’m going to miss him because he was a good neighbor.”

We also talked with a man who lives just a few houses down from where it happened.

He told us Baker gave him his very first job, calling him a great boss and friend.

Investigators aren’t saying what type of gun was used or if any charges will be filed.

Update 2

(Warning, autoplay video again). The Investigation continues, with more details trickling out.

In a media release, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office said, “Investigators discovered that a class participant discharged a handgun while practicing weapon malfunction drills, striking Baker who was sitting in an adjacent room. Efforts to resuscitate Baker were unsuccessful and Baker was pronounced at 3:12 p.m.”

Baker regularly conducted gun training sessions.

A friend and fellow Vietnam-era veteran took a session a couple years back and said Baker was careful and experienced.

“When I took the class, nobody had a loaded weapon,” said Dennis Cooper. “I mean, you could bring your own weapon, but it had to be cleared.”

A friend at a nearby gun shop didn’t want to be identified, but said Baker had close law enforcement connections and helped to build area SWAT units.

He seemed stunned at how this went down.

Immediately after it happened, a 911 caller told the dispatcher, “We were doing malfunction misfires and we have plastic bullets and we just, I just, we just double checked the bullets and there was a live round in one of the guns and it went through the wall and shot the owner in the neck.”

Those who knew Baker feel the loss deeply.

A father and his young son placed a potted flower at the property gate Monday.

We’re told Baker was a Marine sniper in Vietnam about 45 years ago and let police in the area use his target range to recertify as they must do each year.

We wonder why they were doing malfunction misfire drills during a basic CCW class.

23 thoughts on “Safety: This is Doing it Wrong

  1. Tierlieb

    > We wonder why they were doing malfunction misfire drills during a basic CCW class.
    Anyway, I have no idea how long the practice session of the typical CCW course is, but when I teach gun handling basics, malf clearance is the fourth after 1) basic reloading, 2) putting rounds on target and 3) getting the gun out of the holster.

    So that’s usually in the second half of the first day.

    Malf clearance usually leads to speed reloads and explains that there is another reason to carry a mag than just more capacity, which might be an interesting point for a CCW class.

  2. Air

    I always ask if anyone has any live ammunition with them, in their gun cases, in their pocket…

  3. Boat Guy

    Sheesh. And I think the NRA is being excessive when they require even instructor candidates to leave ALL ammo out of the classroom.
    And WHAT competent instructor refers to “plastic bullets” ???
    Malf instruction and drills are best done ON THE RANGE.

  4. TRX

    I was thinking something like orange dummy ammo, but we’re still dealing with heavily-filtered information here.

  5. S

    Poor guy….he survived the Viet Cong, the NVA, the ARVN, and the blue-on-blue renowned US Army, only to be shot by some numpty in his own training facility forty years later. Goes to show, when your number’s up, it’s up.

    We learned the states of weapon readiness, IA’s and basic marksmanship in high school Army Cadets, all without ever seeing even a drill round, let alone a blank or (gasp!) a live one. The SLR had a nifty attachment that let the instructor see the sight picture from the side, rare as hen’s teeth; one can make do without. Endless dry fire with a coin balanced on the barrel, and an epic chewing out for any breach of protocol at any time, and this was with de-milled “rifles”. When we graduated from that to blanks for exercises, we never had an unauthorised discharge, ever. Range day was an annual delight, but the fundamentals had been hammered in long before, without anything resembling a cartridge in the room.

    Whoever owned the fatal weapon and ammo, and the instructor of that class, will (or should be) be eating their own livers for the rest of their natural lives. I sure am glad they or their graduates won’t likely ever be near me; and for those that may be handling firearms near me, watch out: a mouthful of stock or an organ-displacing kick in the nether regions is a fantastic learning moment, at least for the spectators.

  6. Kirk

    Ever find yourself in awe at how these unaimed negligent discharges so often kill people there is no way anyone could have been aiming at? There was a woman a few years back who was killed on her couch when her neighbor two doors down had a negligent discharge with his hunting rifle, and the round went through some ungodly number of walls and then struck her in the chest, tearing through an aorta. She was dead in seconds, and the guy who had the ND didn’t even know about it until one of her kids called 911.

    From the number of these things that happen, it feels statistically “off”, like there should be a bunch more non-fatal ND incidents than we have, in order to account for the number of cases like this one, where the victim is just in the precise wrong place at the precise wrong time…

    1. Hognose Post author

      There is, then, a huge inventory of non-injurious NDs that we never hear about because no one calls the cops and the papers never pick it up. Instead everybody laughs it off and Mr Butterfingers pays to patch the holes in his neighbor’s home.

      1. Tam

        There is, then, a huge inventory of non-injurious NDs that we never hear about because no one calls the cops and the papers never pick it up.

        This. In twenty-plus years of operation, I know the gunsmithing shack at Tactical Advantage Corp, nee Coal Creek Armory, nee Guncraft Sports picked up at least two holes whose existence I’m aware of, and there was a divot in the showroom floor, too.

        Gotta break two rules to need an ambulance.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Yep. I was on a private range a few weeks ago, that belongs to a major importer/distributor (a guy, not a corporation). It’s open to his family, his employees (all sharp people) and select invited guests (under the supervision of employees). And I noted that the roof over the firing points was generally good for shade, but wouldn’t have availed us much in rain. Too many holes!

      2. Kirk

        I get that, completely.

        What bothers me, though? Okay, let’s say that these events are million-to-one odds; shouldn’t we be seeing a million ND events for every fatality like the woman I referenced?

        Seriously–You look at what went into her being in that situation, you really start to wonder if Death isn’t just screwing with us. She was only in that living room and on that couch because of a sting of unlikely events, just as her neighbor was only where he was, and had that ND because of another series of unlikely events. Put together, the odds of all that happening “just so…” to result in her death? Literally astronomical, as in “must use scientific notation” to calculate.

        Guy shot in or near a training range? Not so unlikely. Having the one known ND in a residential neighborhood over the span of decades just happen to go through the aorta of someone who shouldn’t have even been there at that time of day…?

        Ya gotta wonder if Death doesn’t get extra points for making really difficult bankshots, sometimes…

        1. John M.

          Mark Twain noticed this phenomenon in 1882:

          “Don’t meddle with old unloaded firearms. They are the most deadly and unerring things that have ever been created by man. You don’t have to take any pains at all with them; you don’t have to have a rest, you don’t have to have any sights on the gun, you don’t have to take aim, even. No, you just pick out a relative and bang away, and you are sure to get him. A youth who can’t hit a cathedral at thirty yards with a Gatling gun in three-quarters of an hour, can take up an old empty musket and bag his mother every time at a hundred. Think what Waterloo would have been if one of the armies had been boys armed with old rusty muskets supposed not to be loaded, and the other army had been composed of their female relations. The very thought of it makes me shudder.”

          A friend recently told me his father had taken up firearms. He removed his newish semi-auto pistol from his drawer and promptly put a .40 slug through his bedroom wall. His response: “Someone must have snuck in here and loaded the pistol!” Some people just oughtn’t have firearms. But more to our point here, add that to the long, long list of NDs where nobody got hurt.

          -John M.

  7. Aesop

    And of course, since the deceased was a vile, evil reprehensible firearms dealer, nary a peep concerning any arrest or prosecution of the Mr. Jackwagon responsible for negligent manslaughter.
    Maybe if Baker had been black, his life would matter more…

      1. Aesop

        Stupid is as stupid does. Even a legendary CV doesn’t change that.
        This is why there’s a criminal code.
        If someone commits egregious personal stupidity with their own firearm, and the injury or death of another is the residue of that stupidity, the One Strike rule should be fully implemented. As Mr. Baker’s corpse testifies, some mistakes in life you don’t get to – nor should – make twice.

        Where O where is Inspector Javert when we need him?

        In lieu of prison time, I would settle for indelibly dyeing the offenders’ heads blaze orange for life, for the same reason the Almighty put rattles on certain snakes.

  8. Tam

    The rigid “No Ammunition In The Classroom” rule sure does make people go brain dead with Rules Two and Four, since they’re all violating Rule One at the teacher’s instruction.

  9. 11B-Mailclerk

    A local range I frequent requires a class and qualification test to use the range, and requires annual recertification. Other than the live fire test (which is pass or don’t-come-back), all gun handling is done with foam-rubber guns. Anyone detected as having a live gun or ammo in the class is also don’t-come-back.

    I used to think this was excessive, until I heard the no-go stories. What is wrong with our species? We once ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, much to our subsequent discomfort, but some folks obviously munch the fruit of the lesser-known but more common Stupid Tree.


  10. Loren

    Back in the day I was at an indoor range in Lakewood Colorado. The only requirements then to use the range were guns and ammo. The guy next to me cuts loose with a hand cannon and I get a burning pain in my leg. His 44 mag. bullet jacket was sticking out of my thigh. He looks over and says “that’s unlucky” and proceeds to cock the pistol’s hammer for another go. I told him if he shot again I was going to shoot him in the ass with my little .22 and claim self defense. I suppose now that incident would be a big deal.

  11. Dienekes

    Murphy NEVER sleeps. A long time ago I was instructing malfunction clearance with a Glock, out on the range, using what I was sure were all dummy rounds. Well one was damn sure NOT–BANG!

    Zero damage, Thank God–other than to my pride and acute embarrassment. That one ND in 60 years of shooting convinced me that it could happen to me too.

    Four Rules. Always. Guns don’t care who they shoot.

  12. Keith

    Three ND’s by other people many years ago in my direction that didn’t hit thank God leave me very nervous around other people holding firearms and even myself with one.

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