Our View | Reckless handling of gun could have brought tragedy

What police called an accidental shooting Tuesday in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store along North Atherton Street in State College sent a man to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the hand.

The outcome could have been much worse.

We’re glad the man’s injuries were not serious. And we’re especially glad no one else was hit by the stray bullet.

Although the man had a permit to carry a firearm, we find his handling of the weapon to be reckless and irresponsible.

Clearly, his actions were dangerous to himself and others.

Patton Township police said the man shot himself when he attempted to pick up a gun that had fallen out of his holster as he hustled through traffic.

The man had been carrying bags of merchandise across the parking area when the gun fell, and he shot himself while shifting bags in his hands after picking it up.

The bullet went through his hand and into the pavement. He was treated for his injuries at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

The man was not identified by police, who have not yet said if he will face any charges.

Anyone carrying a weapon in a holster should have the gun secured to avoid an incident like this, in which a firearm inadvertently fell out onto the ground.

And apparently the gun was loaded and a round was in the chamber when he picked it up and touched the trigger.

The gun could have gone off when it hit the ground.

Imagine the potential outcome if the gun had been pointed in another direction when it went off.

The man could have shot himself in the chest or head.

That bullet could have been sent off across a parking lot crowded with shoppers in their cars and on foot.

This could have been a much greater tragedy.

We support a citizen’s right to own and carry a properly permitted firearm.

But with such a right comes great responsibility for the safety of those around you.