U.S. Law Shield of Florida Independent Program Attorney David Katz says that having an accident isn’t a crime, but if you do have an accident with a firearm, there are some smart steps you need to take.
David Katz: An accidental discharge of a firearm occurs when a firearm malfunctions or possibly if it were discharged when dropped and the safeties failed to operate correctly. A negligent discharge occurs when a firearm is handled incorrectly such as being cleaned while unknowingly loaded or if someone walks around with their finger on the trigger, trips and negligently pulls the trigger firing.
If you accidently or negligently discharge a firearm, you are under no legal obligation to report the discharge to police under Florida law. Whether or not you do so is up to you. Obviously you should immediately secure the weapon and ensure no one is injured. If someone has been shot, the priority should be to ensure they are treated for their injuries immediately. Hospitals are required to report bullet wounds to the police. So, if someone is injured, it is best to ask for an ambulance and police when calling 911.
Although you may have no criminal culpability under Florida law for an accidental or negligent discharge of your weapon, should you injure someone or damage their property, you will likely be liable for that injury or damage in a civil courtroom.
If you do speak with the police, it is best to have the advice of an attorney prior to making a statement. Please handle your firearms safely.
Keep your fingers off the trigger until the moment you have decided to fire, and never clean a firearm unless you personally have cleared it immediately before beginning the cleaning process. Too many times people are shot because they believe their firearms are unloaded. Remember, always treat every firearm you encounter, including your own, as though it is loaded.
Law Shield members, if you are ever in a situation where you have accidently or negligently discharged your firearm, make sure no one has been injured. Get help for those who have been hurt. Then call the emergency hotline number to speak with your attorney.