SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC/WMC) - Mike Worley invented the Safety Bullet to bridge a gap.
On one side there are curious kids raised by reckless parents/guardians with guns. On the other there are responsible gun-owners who demand fast access to self-defense.
In the middle is a little girl in Panama City, FL, shot to death by her brother playing with Dad's gun in 1995.
"The girl was 6 years old, and she was shot by her 4-year-old brother," said Worley. "No safety device had been used on the gun."
"As a dad, I could not imagine the pure hell that family was going through. I was upset by the story, and then I got mad."
According to a study of accidental shootings by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there were 363 unintentional shooting deaths in 16 states between 2003 and 2006.
- 49 percent of the shootings were inflicted by someone else other than the victims.
- 78 percent of the victims were children -- infants to 14 years old.
- 81 percent of the shooters -- were under the age of 25.
Half of the cases were family members killing other family members.
Nearly all of them involved a handgun that was not properly secured.
Read more about the stats and the stories inspired the Safety Bullet's design at www.safetybullet.com/home.html. It's just like a regular ammo cartridge, same primer and casing, but the bullet itself is a neoprene ball.
In a semi-automatic pistol, you plug it on top of the live ammo in a magazine, load it into the chamber and just leave the handgun out where you need to get to it quickly.
"A child happens by or the bad guy gets in without you knowing it, grabs the firearm and pulls the trigger, you're going to hear a sound like a cap gun going off," said Scott Kilby, owner of RangeUSA in East Memphis and the west Tennessee dealer of the Safety Bullet. "The neoprene ball expands, seals the slide, and the gun is locked up."
"Or if the attacker gets a hold of your firearm and pulls the trigger on the Safety Bullet round, then it locks up, and they don't have your weapon to use against you," Kilby added.
Responsible gun-owners must train with the Safety Bullet like they would with any other safety device. They can leave their handguns out of a safe or without gun locks, but they must remember to eject it first in order to load a live round.
"I think it is a scare tactic and a sympathy tactic," Chief David Lyons, Garden City Police Department, told WTOC. "I was not really impressed with it."
Chief Lyons took a look at the Safety Bullet.
"I'm for anything to keep kids safe," he said. However, he fears the product may provide a false sense of security.
"If they get awakened at 3:00 in the morning to someone kicking their door in, will they remember to take the safe round out and put a live round in their gun or are they going to fire off a round," Lyons said. "With the way this thing works, as soon as it fires off your gun is jammed and you are basicallly helpless."
Chief Lyons believes irresponsible gun owners won't go to the trouble of taking any precautions, including a Safety Bullet.
"I have a safe in my house. I have it there for a reason," he said. "I guess it is better than nothing. I just think there is a better solution."
"Not to say that this is to, in any way, replace responsible firearm ownership or to properly keep your firearm secured, but for some people, this would be a perfect fit," said Kilby.
"If the Safety Bullet saved just one life, it was worth the effort," said Worley. "To the best of my knowledge, it has already saved 20 kids so far. I sleep well."