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02/27/2013

Dog shoots Florida man

Yeah, we weren't sure about this one either when it broke earlier today. So we called police  in Sebring, Fla., to check it out. And when they stopped laughing, sure enough, the rare dog-shoots-man saga is real.

But the full story is actually somewhat weirder than this account in Tampa's Highlands Today paper. 

Shortish version: Gregory Lanier, 35, of nearby Frostproof, Fla. (yes, that is a place) was cruising northbound down State Rd. 17 when his tan-and-white bulldog got excited and accidentally kicked a pistol lying unholstered on the "hump" of his Ford F250 pickup.

Lanier "heard a boom, saw smoke and felt a burning in his leg," according to the Sebring police report, a copy of which was obtained by The Star.

Result: One bullet through the left calf. And when the news broke, one moderate web frenzy. This cheeky post at Americablog gives you the idea.

Lanier was able to wrap his bleeding leg with a towel and continue driving to a nearby gas station to call for help. He was treated and released at a nearby hospital, police said.

But that wasn't all investigating officers discovered. Lanier, under questioning, told police he was certain the .380 Beretta was unloaded, with the magazine tucked safely in the driver's door panel. A second gun, a .243 rifle, was also in the cab, laying across the seat with its barrel resting on the passenger floor and that too, said Lanier, was unloaded.

Sebring police, however, discovered otherwise. The ".380 Beretta" that shot Lanier was in fact a fully loaded 9mm pistol. And the Marlin XT243 rifle, when police inspected it, was also loaded with three cartridges -- two correctly and a third "backward-facing cartridge lodged between the face of the open bolt and the chamber area."

A close search of the pickup also revealed "empty .243 casings in the ashtray and two partial boxes of unfired .243 ammunition on the passenger floor and under the seat." Inside the driver's door pocket, police found "several rounds of unfired .380 ammunition, green tipped 'zombie killers.' "

Lanier, the police report said, "acted as if he was confused as to how it may have been loaded" and was unaware the .380 pistol was a different gun altogether.

The stricken driver was released without charges, advised to "be more careful in the securing of his firearms." His bulldog, you will be happy to know, faces no sanction either and is back with Lanier, for better or worse.

Mitch Potter is the Toronto Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Toronto Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites

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And this country still argues AGAINST gun control? (Not outright bans, just reasonable control methods and maybe checking whether the person is mentally suitable to own and use a weapon)

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