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Police Called After Hospital Visitor’s Handgun Falls from Pocket and Discharges Inside Facility

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA – A hospital visitor was held responsible for allowing his concealed handgun to discharge inside Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Friday evening. No one was injured, and police are calling it an “accidental discharge” of a firearm.

According to police, Gary Cope, 69, was on the fourth floor of the hospital visiting a patient.  He was reportedly carrying a concealed handgun in a sweatshirt pocket.  During his visit, he lifted the sweatshirt, allowing the loaded gun to fall to the floor and discharge once.

Police say the round was fired into the floor and, fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.  Cope received a citation for carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm in city limits. He has a court date of May 6th.  Police did not disclose whether the man has a valid concealed handgun permit.

While it can be argued that the gun “accidentally discharged” when it hit the floor, make no mistake – carrying a loaded gun in a pocket (with no holster) is not an accident. It is negligent and irresponsible. A handgun should be carried in a quality holster that is securely attached to the carrier’s body or clothing and has a retention system to keep the firearm from falling from the holster unintentionally. If pocket carrying, the firearm must be in a pocket carry holster that retains the firearm and covers the trigger guard.

Carrying in loose pockets, loose-fitting clothing, jacket or coat pockets, or off-body in a purse, backpack or other bag can be a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately for Mr. Cope and others inside the hospital Friday evening, they “dodged a bullet” as the old saying goes. That bullet could have seriously injured or killed anyone in the vicinity, and Mr. Cope would be facing much more serious criminal charges and prison time. 

If you choose to carry, do so legally and responsibly. The failure to do so can have lifelong or life-ending results.

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