A child in Wasilla, Alaska was seriously injured Saturday afternoon when his mother’s revolver slipped out of its holster as she was getting out of her pickup truck.

A 4-year-old boy from Wasilla was shot through the leg, after his mother’s gun fell out of its holster and discharged, Alaska State Troopers wrote in a dispatch, Saturday afternoon.

At around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, troopers responded to reports of a child with a gunshot wound to the leg, at 4900 E Palmer-Wasilla highway.

Investigations revealed that “as the family was getting out of their pickup truck in the parking lot the mother’s .357 magnum revolver fell out of her holster and struck the pavement by the hammer which caused the revolver to discharge a round,” troopers wrote.

Troopers wrote that the fired round struck the child “just above the knee then exited his leg and lodged in the trim of the building.”

Sadly, it seems that some people fail to think of their firearm and related accouterments as systems the way that they should.

When we’re discussing a handgun carried for personal protection, that system is composed of the handgun itself, both practice and carry ammunition (FMJ, LRN, or similar for practice, a quality modern hollowpoint for self-defense carry)  any magazines or speedloaders and the associated pouches, a proper gunbelt, and, of course, a quality holster. A gun safe should be considered part of the system as well.

Without all of these elements in place, you’re looking at a system that isn’t going to perform very well.

At best, you’ll have a system that is merely uncomfortable and/or less effective than it should otherwise be. At worst, you have an unsafe system, like the one that injured this young boy.

In this particular instance, we know it took three elements to cause this negligent discharge:

  • the holster failed to retain the handgun in common, everyday use (getting out of  a vehicle).
  • the revolver was of an archaic design, without an internal safety system (such as a transfer bar safety).
  • the gun owner, who should know that her revolver does not have an internal safety, should have been carrying a revolver without a cartridge in the chamber under the hammer.

If the mother knew her weapon and its design limitations, she should would have been carrying “five beans in the wheel” instead of a fully-loaded cylinder with a cartridge under the hammer. This simple “drop safe” safety technique was common knowledge for earlier generations of revolver owners, but somehow didn’t transfer to this mother. This is a shooter knowledge failure.

Of course, the gun shouldn’t have hit the deck at all from the mother simply getting out of the vehicle. This is an equipment failure.

While the article does not say what kind of holster it was, it obviously lacked retention capabilities to withstand even common everyday activities. This suggests that either the holster was worn out, was made of substandard materials (split-grain leather and nylon being the most common suspects), and/or was probably a “universal” design made to fit a range of revolvers, instead of being designed in such a way to provide a solid fit for this particular model.

In the end, a substandard holster, poor knowledge, and an aged design came together in a perfect storm to contribute to the negligent discharge.

Let’s hope that the child’s injury is one from which he will recover fully, and that others will be able to learn from this mother’s mistakes.