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.
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