UPDATED: Accidental shootings on K-12 and University property by permit holders

Mar 14, 2018 | Featured

We know of seven cases: two involving a teacher at an elementary school (though in one of these cases the teacher was carrying the gun illegally) and the other six at colleges and universities around the country.  These relatively minor and rare cases are consistent with the evidence that we have gathered from six states on their not being any increase in insurance premiums for schools that allow teachers and staff to carry. Nor has there been a case were a permit holder has committed a crime on K-12 or university property. (The CPRC earlier report on the revocation rate data for college-age permit holders is available here.)

Keeping in mind that 20 states have school districts with teachers and staff carrying concealed handguns to varying degrees at K-12 schools, there are two accidental discharge cases involving K-12 schools.

The Associated Press has this story from 2014:

Utah schoolteacher whose gun accidentally went off in an elementary school bathroom agreed Wednesday to pay a fine and take a firearm-safety class as part of a plea deal.

Michelle Montgomery has already paid $200 to replace a toilet that exploded when her 9 mm handgun discharged in the faculty bathroom on Sept. 11. She pleaded no contest Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of illegal discharge of a gun. It will be dismissed if she pays a $705 court fee and commits no new crimes over the next year.

Defense attorney Douglas Hoyt declined to comment during a court appearance Wednesday. . . .

She suffered minor injuries when fragments from the toilet or a bullet struck her in the leg, police said.

Montgomery, a sixth-grade teacher, resigned after the incident. She had been at Westbrook Elementary School for 14 years in Taylorsville, a suburb of Salt Lake City. . . .

The Granite School District requires teachers who carry guns at school to keep the weapons on their body at all times, even in a bathroom stall. . . .

This case from Alabama in March 2019. While teachers in Alabama who qualify for the state’s Alabama Sentry Program can carry with the approval of the school, this substitute teacher did not have such a qualification and was illegally carrying the gun without a permit. From Al.com:

A 74-year-old substitute teacher is behind bars after a gun in his pocket discharged inside a first-grade classroom Friday.

The incident happened midday at Blountsville Elementary School, said Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon. Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey said one student was struck by a fragment and checked out by the school nurse.

Moon said the teacher – Henry Rex Weaver – had the gun in his pocket when it discharged. There were students in the classroom at the time. . . .

Moon said authorities are investigating. He is charged with reckless endangerment, third-degree aggravated assault and possession of a firearm on school grounds. . . .

A fragment struck a 7-year-old girl in the leg. There was a welt on the girl’s leg, records state, but the fragment did not penetrate the skin. . . .

Keeping in mind that 12 states mandate that public universities allow permitted concealed handguns on public college campuses and 20 some other states leave it up to the individual schools, here are the six cases for universities:

From a media report in Westwood.com in November 2012:

A University of Colorado staffer who accidentally fired a shot on campus last week, injuring herself and a colleague, is no longer employed by the university. A police report from the incident reveals that the ex-worker, Mary Beth Loeb, was showing her coworkers her handgun, and trying to unjam it, when she accidentally fired a bullet that ricocheted and hit another woman. . . .

Loeb, 49, suffered a minor laceration on her right hand index finger. . . .

The bullet accidentally fired from the gun appears to have bounced off a nearby filing cabinet, then ricocheting again from the carpet to the leg of Loeb’s coworker, Lilibeth D. Lopez-Gonzales, a patient coordinator for the School of Dental Medicine. Lopez-Gonzales, who confirmed the nature of the accident to police, said another coworker “was excited to see Loeb’s gun. In fact, they were thinking about getting one for themselves,” the report says.

Lopez-Gonzales didn’t realize right away what happened, but subsequently “noticed that her leg was bleeding a little bit.”

She suffered a minor laceration on the back of her right leg calf area, smaller than the size of a dime, according to the report. . . .

The minor laceration on Loeb’s hand appears to have resulted from the gun, not the bullet.

Regarding the Idaho case in September 2014:

An Idaho State University assistant professor with a concealed-carry gun permit shot himself in the foot with a semiautomatic handgun that accidentally discharged from inside his pocket in a chemistry classroom full of students, police said on Wednesday.

No other injuries were reported and no charges have been filed in Tuesday’s shooting in Pocatello in a building that is part of the university’s physical science department, according to Pocatello Police Lieutenant Paul Manning.

The instructor, who was treated and released from a local hospital, possessed a so-called enhanced concealed-carry permit that allowed him to carry a hidden gun on campus under a state law that went into effect on July 1. . . .

Here is a case from 2012 in Utah:

Weber State University officials say a 24-year-old student accidentally shot himself while on campus.

University spokesman John Kowalewski said that the man has a permit that allows him to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

Kowalewski says the injury was not life-threatening after the Wednesday evening shooting. . . .

A case from Mississippi in 2013 is the most serious, but it is clear that this student recovered from the accident.

A University of Southern Mississippi student from Brandon remains in critical yet stable condition Friday after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh while sitting in his vehicle on campus.

Blake Ballard, 22, was found on the pavement outside his jeep Thursday afternoon on the service road adjacent to the Ogletree Alumni House.

The junior was rushed to Forrest General Hospital for treatment.

Because of his condition, police have not been able to interview the victim to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting. But from all indications, police say it appears to have been accidental. . . .

Here is a case from Tarleton State University in Texas:

A student at Tarleton State University accidentally fired a gun at a campus residence hall Wednesday, officials said.

The student, who is trained and licensed to carry, reported accidentally discharging a firearm about 6:30 p.m. in Integrity Hall, a co-ed dorm that primarily houses second-year students, university spokesman Harry Battson said.

There were no injuries, and property damage was “minimal,” he said.  . . .

Here is a case from Utah Valley University in April 2017:

A student sitting near a Taco Bell on campus reached into his backpack and fired a gun in the bag by mistake Tuesday, Utah Valley University reported.

The blast went off about 2:30 p.m. in a popular food court. The bullet hit a table and a light near the Jamba Juice and Taco Bell, but did not strike anyone, said UVU spokesman Layton Shumway.

Campus police responded to a report of a shot in the dining area between the Physical Education and Liberal Arts buildings.

The student had a valid concealed carry permit, Shumway said. Utah law allows people with the license to carry firearms at the state’s public colleges. . . .

Here are some recent data on revocation rates by year of age of permit holder from Students for Concealed Carry for Texas.

AGE GROUP 18* to 23 years old 21 to 23 years old 38 to 43 years old
2014 REVOCATION RATE 0.189% 0.186% 0.196%
2015 REVOCATION RATE 0.147% 0.150% 0.155%
2016 REVOCATION RATE 0.118% 0.120% 0.160%

*A person age 18-20 can obtain a Texas LTC only if they are a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or if they get special approval from a judge based on them facing some threat (such as the threat of stalking).

Crimes committed by permit holders?

We have not found a single case where a concealed handgun permit holder was found guilty of committing a crime on a university where permitted concealed handguns were allowed.  One possible case that involves Delton Williams on the Michigan State University campus in 2015.  Williams faced charges of brandishing a handgun, “though he did not point it,” at another driver.  Williams faced a misdemeanor, but the charge was dropped and Williams’ record was cleared in December 2015.

NOTE: That the National Conference of State Legislatures puts the number of states that mandate public universities allow concealed carry at 10, with another 23 states that leave it up to the individual schools.  The difference between their list of 10 and the 12 noted here is that they exclude Tennessee because that state limits it to professors and staff (though some graduate students are apparently allowed) and Minnesota.  Michigan also allows people with a concealed handgun permit to openly carry on university property.

We did not include the following cases in our lists.  Reasons are provided for each case.  Firearm arms training classes, where guns are being actively handled, are much more likely to have accidental discharges.  These cases are excluded from the above list as they are not normal school/classroom settings..

— Seaside High School, California, March 13, 2018: California no longer allows teachers to carry guns.  The accidental discharge occurred in firearms training class, not a normal school/classroom setting. “Police were called to Seaside High School on Tuesday after Dennis Alexander, who was leading a class on gun safety, fired a semi-automatic weapon at the ceiling, local press reported.

— George Washington Middle School, Alexandria, Virginia, March 13, 2018: The list that we have complied involves accidental discharges by teachers or staff with permitted concealed handguns.  This case involves an accidental discharge by a police officer.  “A school resource officer accidentally fired his gun inside a middle school in Alexandria, Virginia, during school hours on Tuesday, police say. No one was hurt. . . .  he accidentally discharged his service weapon about 9:10 a.m., according to Alexandria police.  The shot was fired as the officer, a five-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department, was sitting down in his office, police said. A department representative declined to say whether the officer had taken his gun out of his holster.”

— Texas Tech University, Sept. 29, 2016: police responded to a report of somebody firing three shots on a public road that runs through Texas Tech University. No injuries or property damage were reported, and no suspects have been arrested. Not only is there no evidence tying this purported crime to Texas’ campus carry law; the incident didn’t occur in an area affected by the law. Even before the enactment of SB 11, licensed concealed carry was allowed on the public streets and sidewalks running through Texas college campuses, and unlicensed concealed carry was allowed in cars passing through campus.

— University of Houston: a UH alumnus purchased a firearm from a Houston sporting goods store and checked in to an on-campus hotel where he used to work.  He did not have a concealed handgun permit.

— Criminal justice professor accidentally shoots himself in the leg before class, November 18, 2011 — not included because the school had “a strict no weapons policy.”  The person was able to carry because he was a former police officer.

— Texas school worker shot in handgun training session, February 28th, 2013 — While the accident involved a school staffer who was being trained how to use a gun for school purposes, this incident did occur on school property and didn’t involve any normal schooling activity.  Firearm arms training classes, where guns are being actively handled, are much more likely to have accidental discharges.

— Gun safety instructor accidentally fired handgun inside Stillwater school just before class began, April 16, 2013 — Firearms training class that appears to have been held outside of normal school hours.

— School worker accidentally shot a student in a parking lot at Rangeview High School in Aurora, May 14, 2013 — This individual had a gun because he had a job as a security guard.  The gun discharged when he was apparently locking the gun away in his car when he had arrived at the school.

— Ex-police officer, a firearms instructor, accidentally shot himself outside Glenwood school, January 24, 2014 — Ex-police officer accidentally shoots himself in his car while parked in a school parking lot.  It appears as if the former police officer was going to the school after the students had left to teach a class for those who wanted to obtain a concealed carry permit.

There was another case at Utah Valley University in 2015, but it involved a class to train people to obtain their concealed handgun permits (May 5, 2015).

A man who went early to the first day of a firearms training class accidentally shot another classmate Monday while showing off his new handgun.

The incident happened about 5:15 p.m. Monday at the Utah Valley University campus in the Education Building. The first day of a firearms training course for people hoping to become certified police officers in Utah was scheduled to begin in 15 minutes. The course instructor was not in the room yet, said Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez.

Students are not allowed to have ammunition in the classroom. A 23-year-old man who had recently purchased a new handgun had taken the clip out but forgot there was still a round in the chamber, Martinez said. . . .

Not relevant cases.  There are two cases from Texas that opponents of concealed handgun permits on campus point to.

“Texas Southern University, an argument escalated until one individual pulled a gun, killing another and wounding a bystander.”

“At Lone Star College (Texas), an argument turned physical, with one of the students ultimately pulling a gun and injuring the other, wounding a college maintenance worker as well.”

There are two problems with these cases.  Neither occurred while concealed handgun permits were allowed on these campuses.  The Texas Southern University case occurred in October 2015, about a year before the campus carry bill went into effect in Texas.  The Lone Star College incident took place in January 2013 and community colleges in Texas aren’t allowed to have concealed carry until August 2017.  Also, neither case involved someone with a concealed handgun permit.

Unknown case

The Associated Press has this story Lithia Springs, Georgia on August 17, 2017.  It isn’t clear at this date whether this was an accident or suicide or even if the person had a permit to carry the gun or even if the school had set up a policy that let permitted concealed handguns to be carried on school property.

Authorities say a teacher took a handgun into a high school near Atlanta and shot himself.

Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Jesse Hambrick says no students were hurt, and no other injuries were reported.

Hambrick tells The Associated Press that the teacher took the weapon into Lithia Springs High School about 7:15 a.m. Thursday and then suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a classroom.

Hambrick said authorities don’t believe any students witnessed the shooting.

The teacher, described as an 18-year employee of the school, was taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Cases where a gun was left unattended

In September 2016, there was one case where a teacher accidentally left a pistol in a bathroom. Beth Jean Dixon, 63, a teacher at the Cumberland Christian School, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, immediately resigned after the incident, though there was no accidental discharge of the firearm and no one else touched the gun.



  1. Blaine Nay

    A true accident is an event over which the person(s) involved has no control. It appears to me that every one of these “accidents” would have been averted had the person handling the firearm followed basic gun-handling rules:
    1 – Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
    2 – Always keep the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    3 – Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.
    4 – Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

  2. DG

    All of these can be solved by keeping your weapon in a quality holster that has positive retention and NEVER removing it on campus. In the morning remove weapon from your secure storage safe, observing all safety requirements, place in holster. Replace in safe at the end of the day.

    • Richard

      I never leave it safe, takes to long to get it back out if needed.


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