Last week, a man in Georgia shot himself in the penis while simply trying to holster his gun. He's not alone.
There have been at least seven reported cases where Americans have shot themselves in the same sensitive area over the last five years, some of which were noted by Death and Taxes in 2013.
Of course, these incidents are outliers in a much broader category of accidental gun violence. While the debate about gun rights often includes a defense of responsible gun ownership, it only takes one momentary mistake to show how dangerous a firearm can be to unintended targets.
In 2010, 606 people were killed due to accidental gun discharges. Thousands more are injured by accidental gunshots each year. Many of those injuries were self-inflicted, and yes, a few shootings came at the cost of the shooters' genitals. As the stories below show, this can happen whether the firearms are being used legally or illegally. In some cases we don't know exactly how much damage was done, but the risk of any damage down there may grab your attention.
June 2014: Attempting to holster in Georgia.
The most recent case took place at a Sunoco gas station parking lot, when an unidentified man tried to holster his .45 caliber pistol, causing it to accidentally discharge into his penis. The man apparently then drove to his friend's house where, after taking off his pants, he discovered that the bullet had exited through his rear end. After seeing this, his friend drove him to the Coliseum Northside hospital, where he was then transferred to the Medical Center of Central Georgia.
September 2012: Cleaning the gun he'd just bought in Florida.
He first lied to police, saying that someone had shot him on the street, but 18-year-old Michael Smeriglio eventually admitted to shooting himself in the penis and left testicle while attempting to clean his gun.
July 2012: Checking the gun in his car in Oklahoma.
On his way to sell a gun in Oklahoma City, 36-year-old Tavares Colbert parked his car to make sure the firearm was working properly when it discharged into his penis. Instead of continuing on to the 7-Eleven convenience store where he planned to meet the buyer, Colbert reported the incident to the nearest hospital, where he was treated and arrested. Colbert had a criminal record and wasn't allowed to be in possession of a firearm -- which was why he was selling it, according to him -- and was therefore brought in by the police.
August 2011: Entering a grocery store in Arizona.
While walking toward a grocery store with his girlfriend, 27-year-old Joshua Seto accidentally fired his fiancee's pink Taurus .380 semiautomatic at his scrotum while trying to push the gun into his waistband. The fiancee, Cara Christopher, called 911 and received instruction on how to slow the blood flow. In what capped a thoroughly terrible week, however, Seto's fiancee apparently helped people burgle his home just six days after the accident. Seto received an order of protection from Christopher and presumably her semiautomatic as well.
May 2010: Shopping at Lowe's in Washington state.
While shopping at a Lowe's Home Improvement store, a 41-year-old man's Glock 30 accidentally discharged from the waistband of his black sweatpants into his testicles. Explaining the incident, the man said, "It was in my waistband, and I felt it starting to slip, reached for it, and I must have positioned my finger so the trigger went off." The man had a concealed-weapons permit for the gun and he wasn't charged with a crime. The Glock manufacturers advertised having a "Safe Action" system that prevents accidental discharges, but this of course does nothing if the trigger is accidentally pulled.
March 2010: An unidentified cause in California.
Not much is known about the circumstances leading up to this case, but an unidentified 17-year-old requested treatment for a testicle wound at Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center. The teenager walked into the medical center and allegedly admitted he had shot himself in the testicles. At the time of the report, the teen was not cooperative with police and the details remain unknown.
September 2009: Fumbling with a waistband in New York.
While walking home in Brooklyn, 15-year-old Khamir Grant had his gun squeezed in his waistband when it began to fall. As the gun started to make its way down his pants, Grant reached to stop it and ended up pulling the trigger, shooting himself in the penis. After having to tell his mom what happened and making a trip to the hospital, Grant was arrested for reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.