The victim, Bryan Scott Reno, was showing the gun to his stepdaughter at 10:45 p.m EDT Friday while his 35-year-old wife, Pamela Reno, slept, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.
"During the course of her looking at the firearm, it's apparent that she pulled the trigger of the firearm and it discharged," county Sheriff Alan Norman said. "It just appears he failed to check the chamber to make sure there was not a bullet in the chamber, and it turned fatal."
The incident occurred at the family's mobile home outside of Mooresboro.
Norman said he doesn't expect anyone will be charged in the shooting.
A neighbor told the Observer Reno had moved into the mobile home within the last couple of weeks.