This is one of the longest-running debates I can think of in the gun community, other than the obligatory caliber wars. How close does a knife-wielding attacker need to be in order to be too close for you to draw your weapon and fire? The general rule of thumb is something like 21 feet, but that depends on too many variables to be a hard and fast rule, really.

Still, it’s treated like one.

And, because it is, but also because of those variables I mentioned, there’s a lot of debate about this “rule.”

Well, it seems one such debate turned deadly, not because of heated words, but apparently due to stupidity.

It was all fun and games at a Temple Terrace home until Neil Gallagher accidentally shot and killed his roommate.

The 24-year-old made his first appearance in a Tampa courtroom on Wednesday. He is now facing manslaughter charges in the death of his roommate, Eric Hansen.

Prosecutor Anthony Falcone says, in February, Gallagher and his roommate were simulating a combat to see who would win in a knife-versus-gun fight.  During the role-playing, Hansen pulled out the knife and Gallagher, they say, pulled the trigger.

“Defendant pulled the firearm from his pocket he pointed it at the victim to prove to the victim that he could draw his gun before being reached by the knife and then did fire the gun, shooting the victim in the face, killing him,” explained Falcone.

Gallagher’s attorneys claim that at no point did he pull the trigger. He also claims that Gallegher removed the magazine from his weapon and believed it to be unloaded. The attorney, Anthony Rickman, argues that the weapon had a malfunction that left the round in the chamber.

Of course, I’m going to call that a load of male bovine excrement.

First, if the weapon wouldn’t eject the round in the chamber, that’s something you’d notice. Further, you should always check the chamber directly, not trusting on simply racking the slide to do the trick. Gallagher failed to do that, clearly, and as such, is responsible for what happened.

Further, even if a gun is unloaded, it’s never unloaded.

What I mean by that is that you should always treat a firearm as loaded, even if you know for a fact that it’s unloaded. You don’t just accept that a weapon is unloaded.

If you want to test this stuff, get an airsoft gun. People shoot at other people all the time. Throw some safety goggles on the guy and test away. It’ll give you enough information to determine who is right and who isn’t without accidentally shooting your roommate in the face.

And that’s assuming everything was as Gallagher claims. That’s with me giving him the benefit of the doubt here and accepting everything he said is the actual, gospel truth.

He could also have been lying and shot his roommate in cold blood. I honestly don’t know.

But the best-case scenario here appears to be that Gallagher is an idiot whose stupidity led to the death of another human being. This is not what being a responsible gun owner looks like.