Thursday, August 08, 2013

Why do all these guns keep jumping into my hand?

"Seeing as I'm accidentally holding a gun and could blow your head clean off,
 you gotta ask yourself one question:
Whose responsible for this cockup?"
Investigators said a 13-year-old boy in Anderson, Ind., was apparently accidentally shot and killed Monday by his younger sibling, television station WRTV reported.

Police believe the sibling got hold of a .22 caliber handgun that was kept in a gun cabinet. The boy’s stepfather told police he believed he had emptied all four guns he kept locked in the cabinet, according to the station.

When is an "accidental shooting" really an "accident"?  How about never?  Is never good for you?

 Scearce told the paper that “there is no such thing as an accidental discharge—it is a negligent discharge. In order for a gun to fire, Scearce said three things have to occur: It has to be functional, it has to be loaded and the trigger has to be pulled.”
A car doesn't accidentally start itself, engage the transmission, and run someone over.  A gun doesn't load and fire itself all on it's own.  The stepfather here said he kept the guns locked and unloaded.  So, what, the gun loaded itself, opened the cabinet, and jumped into the shooter's hands?

I learned early in my legal education that accidents actually do not happen.  What happens is negligence:  someone fails to take account of circumstances and someone gets hurt.  If no one got hurt, there wouldn't be an "accident."  But just because it was unintended didn't mean there weren't consequences, and someone wasn't responsible.  As Justin Peters says at Slate, speaking of a different case (but it might as well be this one):
But somebody is responsible, and it’s the idiot who left a working, loaded gun in a place where a 6-year-old could access it and pull its trigger. I don’t know the best way to reduce the number of negligent child shootings in this country. But it surely involves convincing gun owners to accept more responsibility for what happens with their weapons. Striking the word “accident” from the lexicon is one way to start making that happen. Maybe the strategy is starting to catch on.
I'm not too sanguine about that last sentence, though.

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