Despite Mishaps, NRA Instructor Blasts Bills

NRA instructor Eugene Kenny would have joined his fellow gun-rights supporters at the state Capitol Wednesday—if he hadn’t accidentally shot himself in the foot.

He was there in spirit. And on the internet.

“I’ve been watching this like a hawk,” Kenny said about the debate in Hartford over what may be the toughest proposed state gun-control laws in the country, including expanded background checks on buyers as well as a ban on the sale of most assault weapons and all high-capacity magazines. (The legislation passed overnight; the governor signed it on Thursday.) Kenny was rooting for the package of laws to fail; he said they would cut into gun-owners’ rights without protecting the public any more than current laws already do. “You can count on one hand the number of assaults with an automatic weapon” that take place in New Haven, he said. “When you have sick minds out there—it’ll be a bullet, a gun, a bomb—they’re going to do evil” no matter what laws are on the books.

Kenny, a 49-year-old licensed National Rifle Association instructor who leads training classes in pistol and rifle use, delivered his arguments in the front foyer of the two-family Edgewood Avenue house where he rents an upstairs apartment in the Edgewood neighborhood.

Wearing an NRA hooded sweatshirt, he had his left foot in a cast because he accidentally shot a bullet last week while cleaning his Glock handgun.

“I usually always cock it back and it usually ejects a shell that’s in the chamber,” he recalled. “You pull the trigger to release the slide ... This time there was a cartridge in there. And BANG! Hit my ankle.”

A self-described “stickler about safety,” Kenny said he has never had a student injured over 10 years of leading firearms classes. He said he’ll draw two lessons for his students about this recent accident: How he did the wrong thing by not checking the chamber. And how he did the right thing—saving his life—by pointing the gun toward the ground, not at his head or chest, as he cleaned it.

Kenny went to the hospital for treatment. The police interviewed him there about the incident.

They’re still investigating the incident, according to Sgt. Al Vazquez, head of the major crimes unit. They have the Glock in custody as part of the investigation. The gun was legally registered.

Vazquez said his detectives are also still investigating the theft of a safe last November from Kenny’s apartment. It contained around 10 guns—mostly handguns, plus a Saiga 12 rifle. “I took a hit, $8,000 worth of firearms” in that theft, Kenny said.

Neither of the recent mishaps has shaken Kenny’s faith in the value of owning guns for self-protection and recreation, or in the folly of new gun-control proposals.

Kenny (at right in photo) developed his love of guns as a child while traveling from New Haven to Hawkinsville, Georgia, to visit his grandparents. They taught him how to handle a .22 Remington rifle and a Crossfire air rifle. “We shot varmints, lizards, birds, toads, whatever was hopping around,” he recalled.

He lived down the street from New Haven’s then-operating Winchester rifle factory as a kid. His dad, a Fair Haven schoolteacher, would take students to the factory’s indoor range to teach them to shoot.

As an adult, Kenny trained and obtained his license to teach others how to lead gun courses. He currently teaches at Chris’s Indoor Shooting Range in Guilford. He said while he opposes the package of bills in Hartford on philosophical grounds, they may only help his business because rifle owners and others may need new certification training. And people are lining up to buy weapons before new laws take effect.

The idea of further regulating rifles particularly disturbs Kenny, though. He calls that “an effort for the government to counterbalance anyone who might question their authority. If it comes down to a civil war situation or a breakdown of the country, do you trust the military and the police to have all the guns and you have slingshots and Derringers?” he asked.

“I seen what happened in Katrina in New Orleans. You have police there, dereliction of duty. You have total [anarchy], basically almost like warlords running the streets. Your self-defense is your personal responsibility. Rifles are important because they can counter forceful incursion. The Second Amendment is also about people being able to challenge unlawful unrighteous government .... If it comes to a point where they’re more restrictive than the former colonial powers we got our freedom from in the first place, that’s why some of the forefathers wanted to include that” in the Constitution.

Kenny, who studied philosophy and political science at Howard University, said that as an African-American he does struggle with some of the complexity of the historic debate over the Second Amendment.

“Sometimes it allowed militias that put down slave insurrections. That’s a reality,” he acknowledged. “On the one hand I know that it helped protect blacks that were [set upon] by the Klan… But on the other hand I know it was also used to help people keep my people in slavery. So It’s a tricky fence to walk on that one.”

Ultimately he comes down on the need for citizens to arm themselves against a government run amok—even if ultimately the government has the bigger guns.

“Remember Philadelphia? They bombed the whole block in the ‘80s,” he noted, referring to the attack on homes occupied by members of the MOVE radical political group. “Now they’ve got drones ... There’s no physical way you’re going to stop the government in this country. You’re going to get rolled. People talk a good game ...”

So why bother fighting to own big guns?

“Every particular firearm has its own personality,” Kenny responded. “It shoots differently. Some are more accurate. Some shoot, kick light.”

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posted by: ElmJackCity on April 3, 2013  5:50pm

Apparently there is only one NRA Instructor available for comment, and he’d be the one who shot himself in the foot?

Bias? Why not do a story on all the cooks who cut themselves in the kitchen?

I’d prefer a follow-up story on how little an effect the legislation will have on homicides throughout the state.

posted by: eastshore on April 3, 2013  6:09pm

So sad to hear about your $8,000 hit.  Now imagine the sadness when one of those “around 10 guns” is used to murder someone in New Haven.  This guy should be on a poster for gun control.  10 of his guns, I’m sorry, “around 10 of his guns”, on the street and he shoots himself in the foot… perfect.
If the government decides to run amok guns won’t stop them.

posted by: William Kurtz on April 3, 2013  6:17pm

It’s logically suspect to overgeneralize from anecdotes but Mr. Kenny’s recent experience highlights the bankrupt fallacy of ‘responsible’ gun ownership being some kind of bulwark against crime and tyranny.

First, we have a [presumably] trained and experienced firearms instructor who has literally shot himself in the foot. As icing on the cake, his gun safe, containing ‘around 10’ guns including some kind of supershotgun is now in the hands of the same criminals gun ‘enthusiasts’ are always claiming they’re defending society against.

When you consider that most of the high-profile mass shootings in the country have been committed with legally-purchased guns, you have a strong case that the legal gun owners are exactly the people we need protection against.

posted by: David S Baker on April 3, 2013  7:59pm

Wow.  Great example of a responsible gun owner, Paul.  I wonder where you stand on this issue.  No media bias there at all.  The catch with responsible owners who can speak without sounding like obsessed idiots is that they are smart enough to avoid talking with a rag so far to the political left it makes people in the dead center seem like tea party nut jobs. 

The saddest part of this recent gun control fiasco is that we have become so obsessed with HOW people kill that we stop dealing with WHY.

posted by: HewNaven on April 3, 2013  8:31pm

1. Anyone who claims they need a gun to defend themselves against their government is acting very naive, or just repeating what they heard from someone else. That is an arms race which citizens have already lost. The world is so different from the one in which the US fought and defeated the British Empire and in which the 2nd Amendment was written. If anything, the pro-gun crowd should be arguing for a “Right to Bear Drones” if they want to even the score with the government.

2. I’ll admit that protecting oneself from criminals may be a different story, but still aren’t we admitting defeat if we declare gun ownership a necessary defense. Personally, I live in what most would call a bad neighborhood, yet I’ve never felt the desire to own a gun. I have admitted that owning a gun would just add to the violent trends in our culture. And, I’ve chosen to fight those trends rather than contribute to them. To me, its all about what kind of world you want to realize. A world of fear? No thanks!

3. After realizing the fallacy of these 2 arguments, most gun owners, like Kenny, will admit they just likes guns for their different personalities, whatever that means.

So when you boil it all down its either a fear or a fetish that drives the pro-gun crowd. Its certainly not a healthy relationship. I’m certain these people just need to be loved.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  1:55am

“Despite Mishaps, NRA Instructor Blasts Bills”

So becasue he had some mishaps he is supposed to support this bill?

posted by: streever on April 4, 2013  6:59am

This article shows that, despite 10 responsible gun owners, only one legal gun owner can be irresponsible and result in 1 shooting and 10 stolen guns which could be used in a shooting.

As Kurtz points out, this absolutely demonstrates that “responsible” gun owners can and do take actions which lead to deaths.

Why do I call this man a “responsible” gun owner with scare quotes? Because, by the metrics of the NRA, he was responsible until his guns were stolen.

Clearly, something is not right with the system. We need a better system of enforcing responsibility and regulating firearms.

Well said Kurtz & Hew.

posted by: SaveOurCity on April 4, 2013  8:51am

The comments here are far more insightful than the story;

“The saddest part of this recent gun control fiasco is that we have become so obsessed with HOW people kill that we stop dealing with WHY.”

Due to this ‘Newtown’ legislation, our legislators will now run around congratulating themselves on passing a bill that increases the size, the cost, and the control of government while taking no actions that would have prevented the Newtown shootings.

And as an added bonus, many jobs will be lost in one of our state’s largest industries.  What a great state we live in.

posted by: streever on April 4, 2013  9:25am

One would think that a man who is considered a “responsible” gun owner—“a good guy with a gun” is what the NRA calls him—who manages to shoot himself and allow 10 lethal weapons into the hands of criminals might have a re-think about how guns are regulated.

If this is the best we get—if this is a responsible owner—then screw it. I want out.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  9:27am


“Because, by the metrics of the NRA, he was responsible until his guns were stolen.”

Do you have an example or link to this metric you write of? I am unaware of any case where a gun owner who had his weapins locked in a safe that was stolen was branded as irresponsible by the NRA.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  9:51am


Many law enforcement officers have shot themselves, often with Glocks, this does not make them irresponible nor unfit for duty. Acidental shootingdo not automatically make a gun owner irresponsible any more than someone hitting the gas as opposed to the brake in a car.

As an aside I would never suggest a civillian purchase a Glock. I find the safety features on some models unimpressive.

Crime victims are generally not held responsible for the actions of criminals. I am sure no reasonable person said you were responsible for the poor treatment you received when the NHPD threatened you with arrest for showing concern for a citizen.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  10:07am

Just because he did not come to the same conclusion as you does not mean the man did not have a “rethink” on the way guns are regulated. From the article he seems to be an intelligent well spoken individual. I find it offensive that you cannot give this black man the respect and common decency that you would give any other college educated person to weigh facts and come up with an opinion that differs rrom your own.

posted by: streever on April 4, 2013  10:14am

The “metric” I speak of is his NRA instructor certification.

What is your question? I don’t understand. Do you think a valid response to me is that the NRA still considers him responsible despite shooting himself and allowing all of his guns to go to criminals?

posted by: Atwater on April 4, 2013  11:09am

How is this guy responsible for a theft? If a person’s car is stolen it’s their fault? While I agree gun ownership reaches the level of pseudo-religion in this country, I do not think that this group of laws will do anything but create more bureaucracy and government waste.
It’s been said before. It’s the ‘why’ and not the ‘how’ we should focus on.
Also, the NRA is a horrible organization with a very shady (i.e. racist) past. We need to stop treating it with the respect that it deems it is worth. They’re a lobbying group for gun peddlers (i.e. merchants of death) and should be relegated to the back benches with the tobacco lobby and NAMBLA.

posted by: Bruce on April 4, 2013  11:18am

My opinion is that the danger from accidental shootings USUALLY outweighs the protection that a gun might provide. Not always, but usually. Accidents will happen, no matter how careful someone is. If you live in a very high crime area, then a gun may afford you some protection. You should absolutely have the right to own one. However, you need to factor in accidents and the fact that presence of guns can also escalate a non-lethal threat to a lethal threat. I think normally, the dangers outweigh the benefits.

posted by: Slowpoke on April 4, 2013  12:25pm

He is an NRA instructor ?
And this is what he did…

“I usually always cock it back and it usually ejects a shell that’s in the chamber,” he recalled. “You pull the trigger to release the slide ... This time there was a cartridge in there. And BANG! Hit my ankle.”

I’ve owned Glocks over he years did I miss something? I never knew that pulling the trigger released the slide when it was locked back like he says. There is a slide release of course but a trigger release too? I’m either ignorant or the instructor doesn’t know the weapon he owns.
But I do know this, if he pulled the trigger to drop the slide like he says he still has to pull it again to fire it. Obviously the instructor made a mistake. Thankfully not fatal.

BUT using common sense and without calling a friend who owns a Glock to test the theory I ask this question first; Why would Glock make it so pulling the trigger drops the slide ? There would be dozens of people at least, every year, blowing off rounds by dropping the slide with the trigger when the slide wasn’t locked back and it was loaded. And Glock’s don’t come with safeties.

This man is an NRA instructor. He dropped the slide on a loaded magazine because he wasn’t paying attention and pulled the trigger. I would know because thats what I did once.

Except mine was into a clearing barrel on a remote Army post (NorthPoint West Germany) when I was finally being relived at 3am. But mine was an M-16 A1 and I flipped the safety lever twice before I pulled the trigger (people who know just sat up) into the barrel. How many rounds do you think I got off before me and the relief officer woke up?

E-4P to E-1 in less than 12 hours and I was one broke and tired young soldier for the next 6 months.
I was a 20 year old kid, and this guy is an instructor?
This should cost him his job. Right?

posted by: streever on April 4, 2013  12:36pm

Atwater, Edward_H
When you hear the term “responsible gun owner”, do you think it is ironic? I thought that “responsibility” meant one had certain responsibilities: such as, for instance, not storing weapons so that they may be stolen? or perhaps—whoa!—not hoarding guns so that a thief may steal so many at one go?

posted by: Nathan on April 4, 2013  1:11pm

How completely unexpected that Paul Bass managed to find the single best example of an individual that might cast opponents of the flawed legislation in a poor light.  I can’t help but to admire the effort that must have been involved to both pass over the many other choices and to find the desired “target”.  Nice aim, Mr. Bass.  Despite the details of the poor safety procedure pointed out by previous comments, the Leftists are having a gleeful time today publishing and commenting in NHI.

posted by: Slowpoke on April 4, 2013  1:38pm

If you think Mr Bass found me to comment I’d refer you to the emails he sent me asking me to edit words like idiot and fools before he would allow the post, plus I registered for this site just for that post. Until then the only Bass in knew was in a lake.
My ivory tower is in the Seattle area where more people than me can see this debate very clear. It is a Gun Safety Issue, nothing else, and that should get every serious person involved in the debate.

posted by: HewNaven on April 4, 2013  1:42pm


Please note that I did not need to use Mr. Kenny’s shooting himself in the foot to show the weakness of at least 2 pro-gun-ownership arguments (see my previous comment).

Perhaps this rebuttal is unnecessary though, since I don’t consider myself a “leftist” whatever that means. Then again, I don’t consider myself a “rightist” either. Unless that means I’m someone who is against wrong-headed ideas like the notion that owning a gun will make one safer.

I think people who argue about being comforted by a gun have deeper issues that need to be addressed (add that to the mental health debate). Safety should be about the kind of people you surround yourself with, not the objects you keep at arms reach.

posted by: Nathan on April 4, 2013  2:17pm

Without regard to whether one supports some aspects of any given gun control legislation, I would hope that most people agree that proper care and handling of weapons, like any potentially dangerous tool, is an obligation of owners and should be encouraged, both legally and socially.  The vast majority of gun owners I’ve met take safety very seriously; such training was a classic platform of the NRA even decades ago before handguns and sport/assault rifles became the political focus for both opponents and proponents.  It is worth noting that, to be fair, accidents happen even to careful people because of equipment malfunctions as well as human error.  Proper safety proceedures can help avoid injury by emphasizing the importance of pointing the business end of a weapon in a safe direction and by repeated checks that the weapon is unloaded.

posted by: streever on April 4, 2013  5:37pm

Accidents happen every day, and I would advocate a forgiveness over punishment attitude in most cases.

In a society which sees far too many gun deaths a year, however, many of them committed by stolen guns, I submit that the NRA should focus more on teaching proper storage and handling of a firearm than target shooting. If the NRA wants to claim that only “good guys with guns” can protect us from bad guys, they need to do a better job of creating “good guys”, and they need to do a better job training them, if the ELEVEN instances of legal gun owners screwing up between Kurtz’s comment and Bass’s story are not wild-eyed fabrications.

Our tolerance for accidents must depend on the potential scope and scale of the accidents, and we should have intelligent legislation in place to encourage citizens to prevent such accidents.

If you define criminals and murderers having relatively easy access to guns as a mere “accident”, I’m not sure that I want to see your definition of “SNAFU”.

posted by: FrontStreet on April 4, 2013  5:39pm

Well, as a political science and philosophy major, Kenny ought understand that there are precious few absolute freedoms in society.  The greater the ability to effect or harm others, the less the freedom.  Everyone can own and ride a bike, but one must meet various criteria to own and drive a car.  Hopefully the recent legislation to regulate guns in CT will help to counteract the wild proliferation of military-grade arms in houses and communities of our United States.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  11:24pm


“What is your question?”

I had only one question “Do you have an example or link to this metric you write of?. Which you answered: “The “metric” I speak of is his NRA instructor certification.” However, after searching the NRA website I see nothing that would disqualify him from being called a responsible gun owner by the NRA due to him having an accident and/or being the victim of a crime. I suspected you were masquerading your own opinion as something that is backed up by language used by the NRA. You statement “by the metrics of the NRA, he was responsible until his guns were stolen” is a lie. If you have some sort of proof or link to back up your hyperbole I would love to read it. I have no problem conceding if you prove me to be incorrect.

“I don’t understand. Do you think a valid response to me is that the NRA still considers him responsible despite shooting himself and allowing all of his guns to go to criminals?”

Yes, as there is no proof to back up your statement of him “responsible until his guns were stolen.” by any metric used by the NRA. The man had an accident and he was the victim of a crime. The article states he had his weapons in a safe. If you have several bikes stolen which are subsequently used by young criminals to rob and beat old ladies no one would call you irresponsible. A better example of acting irresponsibly would be if he was riding a bike and not looking where is was going in order to give someone the finger.

Your opinion is the man is irresponsible due to him having an accident and being the victim of a crime. Many people share your view when concerning rape victims. Claiming there exisits a demostrable metric used by the NRA which would deem him not responsible is not backed up by any factual data or examples.

posted by: Edward_H on April 4, 2013  11:34pm


“Also, the NRA is a horrible organization with a very shady (i.e. racist) past. “

This statement more accurately reflects the Democrat Party. If the NRA needs to go to the back benches it should be only after the party responsible for the creation of the KKK is placed there first.

posted by: Nathan on April 4, 2013  11:49pm

William Kurtz, why do none of your links show accidents with chainsaws, power tools (e.g. table saws, nail guns, etc.) in general, or motor vehicles?  Aren’t there even more of those than firearms accidents?  What’s the ration of ownership of any of those things to accidents?

Streever, as I wrote, safety training has been emphasized and facilitated by the NRA since it’s inception, as far as I am aware.  My only previous NRA linkage was though sport competition shooting in school.  Until today’s new law pushed me into seriously considering becoming a member, I hadn’t looked into their policy or suggestions for weapon safety in terms of gun safes, trigger locks, etc.  Proper safe storage of any weapon is a requirement of responsible ownership.

posted by: Tommy Hobbes on April 5, 2013  2:17am

Its funny to me how people like “frontstreet” who own waterfront condos and have never served in the military a day in their lives turn into experts about what constitutes a “military grade” weapon. The only thing that is proliferating wildly is government intrusion on the lives of good hardworking Americans. I feel sorry for my brothers and sisters from CT who are on active duty and have to return to find that what they swore to uphold is being destroyed, not by enemies foreign or domestic, but by our own elected officials “(enlightened despots). My guess is that many will not return.

posted by: streever on April 5, 2013  6:23am

You’d join the NRA? I always assumed you were more of a provocateur—someone who riled people up, or took the wind out of their sails, out of a desire to debate & play devil’s advocate more than any real conviction. I didn’t realize that aspects of you were that serious about these things.

Can you clarify why this law may lead to you joining the NRA?

What precisely does this law prevent you from doing that you’d like to lobby for increased rights?

posted by: Atwater on April 5, 2013  9:42am

It’s that type of rhetoric that stalls the necessary debate. Someone doesn’t need military experience to know what a military grade weapon is, nor do they need military experience to know that the average citizen has no need for an assault weapon.
It’s the year 2013, not 1776, it’s time to re-think the Second Amendment. And, it should be mentioned that the majority of Americans do favour stricter gun laws. In fact one could argue that the NRA’s efforts have done much to spurn our nation’s democratic processes and have blocked legislation that might make our communities safer. The real enemies of our Constitution are the powerful lobbying groups (like the NRA) and corporate special interests (like gun manufacturers). Oh, and the military-industrial complex.

@Edward_H: The KKK and the NRA have very close links in regards to the former’s relationship to the creation of the latter. But, even if NRA has shed its racist past, it still is a lobbying group that promotes the perpetuation of weapons of mass destruction.

posted by: jim1 on April 5, 2013  6:13pm

Looks like the type of person not to give me a class on how to make a gun safe!!!!!!!!  Also I love the anti gun people who say the forefathers did not think there would be such a thing as a AR 15 or the other 166 guns. You don’t hear a word about the forefathers saying a women can’t vote as they don’t have the brains to pick a person to run the gov. Or the fact that there is a Air Force One and the president gets $400,00.00 per year LETS GET REAL