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I should explain a bit. In mid-July 2002, I was with a friend at a local shooting range, shooting a rental Beretta 92. This is the same handgun that's the standard issue sidearm for countless police departments and armies.

As closing time was drawing near, I was using the Beretta, and he was using his .22 rifle. I was merrily shooting along, putting holes in bits of paper with moderate accuracy, when one shot felt really different. The gun lurched in a way it never had before, and I felt hot sparks hit my hands. I looked at the gun, and it didn't appear to be entirely healthy. I set it down gingerly, in case it had any more exploding to do.

I went to the rangemaster (that gangly fellow in the last picture) and said, "I think your gun just exploded." He gave me that quizzical look that says "you're a moron, of course the gun didn't just explode. Guns don't explode," but followed me into the bay. I displayed the evidence at that point, and he was forced to agree with me that the gun, had, in fact, just exploded.

At this point he got very wide-eyed as he pondered the alternatives that might have happened (and doubtless the staggering lawsuits that might have accrued despite the paper I'd signed saying it was all my fault). He looked over at me and said, "you know, not to put too fine a point on it, but you're really fucking lucky!" I said, "I know!" and we continued in that vein for a minute or two before I hauled out the camera and snapped my damning evidence.

Of course, I don't really care in this case. I didn't get hurt, nor did anyone else. They didn't charge me for breaking their gun. Beretta wasn't negligent in their design or manufacture, it was just a poorly cared-for handgun that finally got too tired and gave up after being cleaned too few times. Lawsuits are silly. It's nice when everyone involved in a situation like that is reasonable. Gives me hope that we don't live in the most annoying, materialistic, litigious society ever.

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