Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rare Black Powder Gun Death

The Charlotte Observer reports on the accidental gun death which involved a muzzle-loaded rifle.

Galen Elijah Ruble told police he thought his muzzle-loading rifle was unloaded when he pointed it at his friend's head and pulled the trigger, according to Boone police.

But Jay Derby, a 20-year-old student, was killed Sunday during a party at Ruble's apartment near Appalachian State University.

On Monday, Boone police charged Ruble with involuntary felony manslaughter.

"This is negligent. You don't point a gun - it's not a toy," said Boone Police Captain Jim Wilson. He said Ruble, also 20, is distraught about the shooting, which has rocked both families.

Police say Derby went to a small party at Ruble's apartment this weekend. About 12:30 a.m. Sunday, police say Ruble went to his bedroom and came back with his .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle, intending to scare his friends.

He told police he expected only a small pop from the gun's percussion cap.

On a muzzle-loading rifle, the percussion cap explodes when the trigger is pulled - setting off the main gunpowder charge and propelling a slug down the barrel. The gun is loaded by pouring powder and a slug into the muzzle.

Derby was declared dead at the apartment when paramedics arrived.

That's a sad story, one friend killing another. How is it possible for someone who owns a muzzle-loaded rifle to be so ignorant of the basic rules of gun handling? Pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger for a joke, should be such a taboo action that no gun owners would ever do it. Instead, it happens.

With gun registration and proper gun control regulations people who want to own guns could be required to do a bit more than some cursory training course. In some places nothing at all is required. The result is the fact that we have foolish and preventable tragedies like this.

Please feel free to comment.


  1. A gun is a gun and it does not matter what kind it is. Gun rules and the laws of physics still apply.

  2. That is absolutely NOT an "accidental gun death" and you're being dishonest to call it such.

    The guy "thought it was unloaded," pointed it at his friends head, and pulled the trigger.

    Sorry MikeB, but not a single one of those actions was an accident. This moron intentionally brought out a gun, pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger in order to "scare" them.

    Frankly he should be charged with VOLUNTARY manslaughter, as there was nothing involuntary about his actions.

  3. "The result is the fact that we have foolish and preventable tragedies like this."

    You can not cure stupidity via legislation. For you to even suggest that it is, is well...stupid.

    At least they correctly labled it as negligience rather than "an accident."

  4. How is registration going to stop accidents like this? Is his paper work going to jump out of its envelope and scream "Stop"?

    Trained people shoot others and themselves all the time.

  5. AztecRed, Are you coming over to our side?

    "Trained people shoot others and themselves all the time."

  6. Yes, negligence not accidental. Mike W. think that people who are negligent should be charged the same as mafia hit men and gang enforcers.

  7. In most states intentionally scaring someone by pointing a gun or reasonable facsimile at them is illegal. This was a death during the commission of a crime. I am not all that sympathetic when someone negligently commits a more serious crime than the one they intended.

    I would agree that we need more training, but why should it be limited to gun owners? Aren't guns prevalent enough in the US that almost everyone should know at least the bare basics of gun safety? A couple of hours total per student over the course of public school education would save lives.