Let’s get the facts, as reported, out of the way:
A Forest man is facing charges after an accidental shooting at a Lynchburg restaurant Saturday night.
Police have charged 56-year-old Wayne Latham with three misdemeanors, including reckless handling of a firearm and possession of a firearm while consuming alcohol in a restaurant.
Authorities say Latham was attempting to get drinks at the bar at Waterstone Pizza, when the semi automatic pistol in his pocket fired, shooting him in the thigh.
There were some differences in the story as originally reported on Saturday night versus that of the update this morning. You can read both at the link above. I note that there are conflicting statements in just the part I’ve copied above, however. The 2nd paragraph says he was consuming alcohol. The 3rd paragraph says he was “attempting to get drinks.” Which was it – consuming or attempting to get? Or attempting to get more of so he could consume. It makes a difference. If he was actually consuming while carrying concealed, then he’s in violation of the law regardless of whether he’s got a concealed handgun permit or not. If he hadn’t had a drink (yet) then he was not, technically, in violation of the law.
I’m also a little confused about that line where he was charged with a misdemeanor of “possession of a firearm while consuming alcohol in a restaurant.” Mere possession of a firearm doesn’t preclude one from drinking, never has. If he’d been carrying the weapon openly, he’d be allowed to drink. I’m wondering if that’s a misreport or a local police department making up an offense on the fly.
It’s safe bet, though, that he was carrying the firearm unholstered. Not illegal – just dumb. Holsters are not there just to give you an attractive place to hang your pistol. They are there to protect the weapon, hold it steady, and to keep anything from accidentally pulling the trigger. There are handguns small enough to fit in your pocket (called “pocket guns”, conveniently enough) and there’s nothing technically wrong with them, per se. It’s an extremely dangerous thing to simply drop them into your unaltered pocket, however, due to the chance of the trigger catching on something, even if it’s just the lining of the pocket. That’s why they also make something called a pocket holster. If you’re carrying in your pockets, get one and use it.
If he was, in fact, consuming alcohol while carrying concealed, he needs to prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That means a fine, possible jail time, and the revocation of his concealed handgun permit. That’s the law and no champion of the 2nd Amendment I know will say anything different. If, on the other hand, he wasn’t drinking then this is just a matter of someone doing something supremely stupid. As much as I may think it should be, being stupid isn’t a prosecutable offense.