The Pistol that fired all on its own?

When someone says a pistol fired on its own, it almost always means they pulled the trigger by accident. That is what I assumed when I read the title of this article in the St. Petersburg Times, but the massacre that followed suggests otherwise (emphasis mine) …

Moments before, Sherri Thourot had watched her husband fire and reload the Jennings 9mm. Then he set it down for her to shoot next at the range.

That’s when the handgun started firing on its own, she said, spinning around in circles, landing the Thourots and an Irish tourist in the hospital.

I once belonged to a club with a private range. Club members had shot themselves in the foot at least a few times in the club’s recent history. This happened when race guns with hair triggers were drawn from a holster. The pistol would fire a burst into the shooters foot and an ambulance would need to be called.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the gun may have been altered, leading to the malfunction. Detectives expect to know more when they take the gun apart and inspect it as they continue to investigate.

Sherri Thourot said her son, 29-year-old Jeremy, brought the 9mm back to the United States after one of his tours in Iraq with the Navy. He gave it to them this summer.

So it may have been a souvenir from Iraq. They do not list the exact model of the Jennings pistol and I don’t know much about those guns, other than they were budget pistols.

Jennings Model 58

Flynn was listed in stable condition at the hospital, while Michael Thourot was released Sunday. His wife said doctors put pins in his hand to help heal shattered bone.

But the freak accident won’t keep her away from guns.

“I can’t allow something like this to cause me to be afraid of something I’ve done all my life.”

I am very glad they are all ok.

Many thanks to Mason for the link.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Wow, the Bryco/Jennings/etc. message boards are probably on fire with this right now. Folks, THIS is an accidental discharge!

    I was also given a Bryco pistol. Calling it “budget” is being very charitable. Doing the same work to a Jennings that takes a Kel-Tek from “kit gun” to “ready for duty” status, merely took my own 9mm “budget” gun from “SRSLY?” to “totally unacceptable” (40% to 2% failure rate, with broken parts thrown in for good measure).

    They are not drop-safe -not even close- and very cheaply-made. It only surprises me a little bit to read that this one went mad. I am a big fan of low income earners being able to buy a gun, but this line is (as shown here) potentially dangerous like in the video mocking Plaxico Burress on YouTube. Bryco/Jennings/etc. pistol owners should remember to keep them stored withOUT a round in the chamber.

  • If that gun is indeed a souvenir from Iraq, someone’s about to get in SEVERE trouble.

  • “The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the gun may have been altered, leading to the malfunction.”

    Be willing to bet this thing was stock if not in “good” condition.

    My father in law has one of these. Its the biggest POS ever. To bad for these people Jennings was already sued out of existence.

  • rhoggman

    Wow… she really dimed out her kid on the quick. Wonder how the Navy will handle this? I’m pretty positive bringing back weapons of any type is stricly forbidden.

    I have seen the AK’s that have been “deystroyed” by having molten metal poured down the action & barrel…. but never anyone who brought back a functioning weapon legally.

  • RCG

    “This happened when race guns with hair triggers were drawn from a holster. The pistol would fire a burst into the shooters foot………”

    I am a bit disturbed by this statement. It sounds like something out of the “mainstream media” who don’t know (or care) that a normal race gun doesn’t …”fire a burst….”

    Are we talking about something I have never heard of or just another case of very poorly chosen words?

    • RCG, any semi auto can fire a burst under certain circumstances. There were idiots who polished their internal components to a point where the gun was unsafe.

  • redmanlaw

    A Jennings pistol was used in the Steve McNair killing this summer:

    Man who allegedly provided gun busted
    ESPN.com news services

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ex-NFL quarterback Steve McNair’s mistress bought the gun she used to kill him from a convicted murderer whose fiancee was afraid to have it in the house, authorities said Friday.

    Adrian J. Gilliam Jr., 33, of La Vergne, Tenn., was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He admitted selling a 9 mm Bryco/Jennings to Sahel Kazemi for $100, according to court documents.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4336409

  • CY

    A quick search of jennings firearms reveals some scary information. Allegations of catastrophic failure,poor quality and questionable business practices.These are the type of firearms that create fear and misunderstanding. I feel bad for the injured persons and hope that the lesson is to use quality firearms and follow safe procedures.

  • carl

    Negligent discharge in my opinion. There is no reason whatsoever to load a pistol and then set it down on the bench on the range. You unload first, and then set it down.

    If someone hasn’t learned loading and unloading a particular firearm they shouldn’t be using it period.

    Furthermore you probably shouldn’t introduce new people to shooting with unusual firearms that you haven’t used very much yourself…

    • carl, good point. Or at the very least lock the slide back – which would have also prevented this problem.

  • Peter

    Damn – It doesn’t take an expert to figure out that that is one piece of crap,cheap rubbish. Makes Raven Arms & Hipoint look like Browning. Is this stuff heading offshore because its not safe for the US market?

  • Brad

    Sounds like the pistol suffered from runaway fire, an uncontrolled burst of fully automatic fire.

    That reminds me of a lawsuit filed against a manufacturer (which one I don’t remember, maybe Beretta?) claiming negligent design contributed to an accidental shooting death. Apparently the dead guy accidentally shot himself when trying to unload the pistol. The claim of bad design is based on the manual safety having to be placed into ‘fire’ in order to open the slide and eject a round from the barrel.

    The reason some manual safeties lock the slide closed is to prevent the very kind of accident described in the first post, to prevent runaway fire in the event of mechanical failure. Naturally anti-gun groups consider such a manual safety a ‘design defect’.

  • This is the reason why I haven’t been able to convince my fiance to come with my to the local indoor range. After reading this, I don’t blame her. She is afraid that someone will go crazy and start shooting people, and now I am afraid that someone will go crazy and buy sub-standard weapons and/or be foolish in their operations.

    On a positive note, the ammo shortage and high prices at the range for in-stock ammo has kept the range practically empty. Out of 18 lanes, I was the only one shooting during peak weekday times.

    Off-topic: The good thing about shooting a lightweight .357mag snubnose is that I can only fire off 3 rounds before I have to put the gun down to stop the bleeding. Keeps me from needing to buy more ammo.

    • David, you can look at one anomaly and conclude that anything is safe or unsafe. This type of fear is what anti-gunners play on. How many people have seen this happen? I know of no similar occurrence.

      As for someone going on a shooting rampage at a gun range … if you think about it you are probably more safe at a gun range than anywhere else from madmen.

  • Anyone who fools around with such sub standard firearms, IMHO, is just setting themselves up to be a Darwin Award recipient.

    I actually have a Raven, given to me many many years ago, and to this day, I have yet to load & fire it.

    Just don’t trust it.

  • To be fair, at least this Jennings fired. That gives it a leg up on the last two I (gingerly) handled.

  • Carl

    “carl, good point. Or at the very least lock the slide back – which would have also prevented this problem.”

    Assuming the slide lock doesn’t fail as well…
    I’d still suggest completely unloading before relinquishing control of any firearm. Doing it doesn’t cost anything and it is the safest practice.

    The only situation I can think of where it would be reasonable to let go of a loaded firearm is when storing it for defensive purposes, and then you should probably either put it in a safe or securely locked in a holster fixed under your bed or whatever with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

  • i know what you mean had a guy offer me one in lue of $400 usd in a poker game now im glad i settled on his car paper,s insted sound,s like one big pos \\ not shure if the usmill let,s firearm,s throught any more unless you get a officer to sign off on a bring back and even then it,s got to be chequed off by the ncic rep\ navy cop sound,s like he baged and hid it home

  • Gabe

    These Jennings firearms sound like the Sten gun all over.
    I still have letters from a grandparent detailing his training with the sten, in which the sergeant tossed the loaded weapon into a room and slammed the steel door shut. The gun discharged the entire magazine whilst spinning in a circle…

  • ARJohnston

    Certified, college educated gunsmith putting in my .02. Whoever is responsible for the manufacture or distribution of jennings/bryco/jimenez firearms should be in prison for a very long time. I’ve been brought a lot of these in my career, and ive never encountered even one that I trusted not to kill me, much less protect my life. You’re taking your life in your hands when you pick up a firearm, just spend the extra hundred bucks. You owe it to your neighbors, kids and the guy across the shooting lane. If you wont, do the entire world a tiny favor and re-evaluate your priorities. Please?

  • mica

    i aggre with ar johnson thire are some seriouse quality issuse with those gun,s i know in my case ya most of my pistol,s are famaly bring back,s eather war issuse walther,s or lugar,s but at least i know the quality is thire i know the 2 naimbue,s\ jap semi auto,s \in the back of the colection i willl never fire thire just POS quality steel and my primary carry is a 357 snub nose body gard or my walther 9×18 hay you guy,s know it as well as i do quality firearm,s last a life time and longer i figguer one of these day,s maby when thire old enofe ill hand down my collection to my kid,s provided the goverment don,t make that das verboten the girl,s willl get my pistol,s and my son who now is curled up on the couch with pop tart,s and watching cartoon,s will get his peper,s \ 303 endfield\ hay hand it down to the next gen teach em right wrong and to be true to them selve,s