A man whose gun fired while he was in a dressing room at Walmart has been charged with reckless endangerment, a felony.
The man, Robert Harris, 28, of McMinnville, was booked Tuesday at Warren County Jail and released without having to post bond. His first court appearance is set for this Tuesday.
According to McMinnville Police reports, Harris was injured last Friday, April 9, when he was in a Walmart dressing room around 4:30 p.m. and his 9mm handgun fell from his pocket and fired. The bullet reportedly struck Harris in the back of the leg, causing him to be hospitalized.
“The reckless endangerment stems from the fact he mishandled the firearm,” said McMinnville Police Chief Nichole Mosley, who consulted with the District Attorney’s Office in deciding to level a charge. “With other people being in the area and with a gun going off, bad things could have happened. People need to be responsible if they’re going to carry a gun. They don’t need to just stick it in their waistband. They need to make sure it’s secure.”
Gov. Bill Lee recently signed legislation that will allow most Tennessee adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without clearing a background check or receiving any training. The new state law will take effect July 1.
Law enforcement groups and mental health experts had argued against the legislation, saying the state’s current permit system provides an important safeguard for knowing who should, or shouldn’t, be carrying a gun.
When asked if she thinks the new law will lead to more people carrying a gun irresponsibly, Chief Mosley said, “I hope we don’t see it, but I’m afraid it’s going to happen.”