Thursday, January 01, 2015

No way to start a new year....

It's a basic tenet of civil law, going back to the common law of England in the misty reaches of time, that there are no accidents, no situations in which "shit just happens."  Any incident not an act of God (of nature, if you prefer) is the result of a causal chain set in motion by human beings, if only because human manufactured products are involved, or even if only because humans claim ownership of the land upon which a dangerous feature appears (ice on sidewalks, for example).  This, then, was no "accident":

On Tuesday morning, that was exactly what Veronica Rutledge’s son did — with the most tragic of outcomes. Veronica, 29, arrived at a nearby Wal-Mart in Hayden with her three nieces and son, her gun “zippered closed” inside her new purse, her father-in-law said. Then, in the back of the store, near the electronics section, the purse was left unattended for a moment.

“An inquisitive 2-year-old boy reached into the purse, unzipped the compartment, found the gun and shot his mother in the head,” Rutledge said. “It’s a terrible, terrible incident.”
It is a horrible story, as the grandfather and father-in-law of the deceased, explains:

“My son is terrible,” Rutledge said. “He has a 2-year-old boy right now who doesn’t know where his mom is and he’ll have to explain why his mom isn’t coming home. And then, later on his life, as he questions it more, he’ll again have to explain what happened, so we’ll have to relive this several times over.”
He doesn't think this story should be fodder for a discussion of gun control, however.  In that, he is wrong.

The article details how the mother grew up around guns, was comfortable with them, understood how to handle them.  Except, obviously, she didn't, or a two year old would never have found a deadly weapon in his hands.  Would we think her any less culpable had she left an 8 year old in a car with the keys and the ability to shift into "Drive"?  As I said, there are no accidents, not where human beings are involved.  This gun was in a purse in a zippered pocket; but apparently no safety was set?  Or it was, and it was easy for a two year old to release it?

And she carried a loaded gun for what reason?  Everything I ever learned about gun safety was that you never carried a loaded gun on a hunt until you were ready to fire.  You didn't carry a loaded weapon out of your house, put it in your car, drive to the hunting site, leave it loaded until you went out to hunt, and then re-loaded for the trip home.  Why is it reasonable to carry a loaded weapon into a store?  Even if you are comfortable with guns, the people who taught me gun safety knew a loaded gun was dangerous, and every gun was to be treated as loaded, at all times.  Which meant you always treated a gun as extremely dangerous.  Leaving a loaded gun within reach of a two year old, is not treating that weapon as extremely dangerous.

I have a family member who learned gun usage in the military.  He kept a loaded pistol in his house because it was broken into once (his wife came home as the burglar was stepping through the window).  He kept the pistol in a holster, with a trigger lock, in the back of his closet on a shelf.  His children couldn't get to it without a ladder and longer arms than they had when they were young enough to be dangerous around guns.  He never carried it with him.  He knew how dangerous guns are.

 So there are only two reasonable conclusions possible from this sad story:

 1)  She was irresponsible, because a two year old got his hands on a deadly weapon and killed his own mother with it.

2)  Guns are so inherently dangerous there is no safe way to carry them around in public, even in a "gun culture" and among "gun people."

And it isn't even a matter of either/or; in this sad incident, I think it's both/and.

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