Negligence is just as bad as murder

Carelessness with firearms is an epidemic that is costing far too many lives.  While deaths due to negligence or improper handling of guns are often labeled accidental, the truth is that they are avoidable.

For example, a man in Texas shot his father-in-law outside a gun show when he was not handling his gun safely.

The response from a “democratic consultant” is about what you would expect:

Some people say that guns don’t kill people, the person pulling the trigger does.  They can kill you a lot easier with a gun.  And what we need is for gun owners to take it upon themselves to work with us to be safer on this.  Because right now the status quo sure ain’t working.

This is a reminder of a very important point.  Gun owners should want guns to be safer, and should work to make that the case.  Unfortunately, the pro-gun response was also about what you would expect:

I know all the nay-sayers are gonna come out and they’re gonna say ‘I told you so.’  This is not ‘I told you so’ this is not ‘I gotcha.’  This is no different than this little incident we saw a day or so ago where two kids were ejected from a vehicle because they weren’t wearing a seat belt.  We don’t blame the vehicle for that incident so we’re not gonna blame the guns for this incident.

But, I am not blaming the gun.  I am blaming the person holding it, as well as a system that allows people to handle weapons without proper training or safety precautions.  To compare a shooting death to an incident involving children being thrown from a vehicle is ironic.  Safety measures are repeatedly taken to make car accidents less likely, and to make the accidents that do happen less injurious.  Yet, gun advocates repeatedly refuse to do the same for guns, despite ongoing efforts from the other side.  So, yes it is, “I told you so.”  And, sadly, it will continue to be, “I told you so,” as these kind of “accidental” deaths continue to happen.

Similarly, gun owners are complicit in a system that allows children to get their hands on guns, often with tragic results.

An 11-year-old boy shot himself at Boy Scout camp near San Diego.  Details are not in regarding whether the shooting was intentional or not, but he should not have had access to a gun in the first place.  Gun owners with children should want to secure their weapons (and keep the unloaded).  And again, they have fought regulations that would mandate this.

Gun owners need to acknowledge that their weapons can be used to cause great harm to others, whether it is intentional or not.  I don’t think this man meant to shoot his father in law, and I don’t think that the gun owner meant for his weapon to end up in the hands of an eleven-year-old boy.  But, in both cases, someone is dead, shot by a weapon that was not handled safely or correctly.  Dismissing cases like these as accidents devalues the lives that were taken, writing them off as acceptable losses or collateral damage in the imaginary war against gun-grabbers.  Gun owners should want other gun owners to store and handle their weapons carefully to make sure incidents like these do not continue to happen.

But, as long as they do continue to happen, there must be accountability.  Shooting and killing another person, even if it is an “accident” should be a criminal act.  A person driving recklessly who crashes and kills someone is prosecuted, and the same should be true for someone with a gun.  Likewise, anyone who allows their gun to fall into the hands of a child by not storing it securely and safely should bear the responsibility for whatever that gun is used to do.  The gun owner in these cases is an accomplice to the death that resulted from their carelessness.  These are not accidents.  They are as bad as murder.  Negligence is no excuse.

 

5 thoughts on “Negligence is just as bad as murder

  1. “Carelessness with firearms is an epidemic …”

    Any accidental firearm death is a tragedy (well most are, a few are just Darwin working to thin the heard).

    But the truth is that firearms accidents are approaching historic lows.

  2. Personally, I think there should at least be an age limit on guns (not that they can’t get them from an unlocked storage space where they’re being kept). Marketing a gun and buying it “as a toy” is ridiculous. That’s how accidents like these happen:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/01/us/kentucky-accidential-shooting/

    As for accidental firearm deaths at an all time low. It depends on how those studies classify “accidental firearm deaths” and where they’re getting their information. If the studies combs through police reports in a certain number of states, it all depends on how THEY classify an accidental firearm fatality.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/children-and-guns-the-hidden-toll.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    “A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities. The killings of Lucas, Cassie and Alex, for instance, were not recorded as accidents. Nor were more than half of the 259 accidental firearm deaths of children under age 15 identified by The Times in eight states where records were available.”

    • “A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, …”

      Which is nonsense and why the Times is not a particularly trustworthy source about some information any more. See the following:

      Guns, Children and Accidents: Four Blunt Points

      http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-30/child-gun-deaths-there-are-encouraging-trends-too-statistics-show

      Quoting:

      Strangely, the Times seems uninterested that if we’re underestimating gun accidents, we’re exaggerating the number of child homicides. The newspaper offers no indication that medical examiners are nefariously covering up accidents.

      3. And, by the way, what’s the overall trend in child gun deaths, accidental or otherwise? That’s a question I had early on as a reader of the nearly 6,000-word article. (Actually, I knew the answer and wondered when the Times would get around to revealing it.)

      STORY: Gun Control: Turning to Mental Health Instead of Hopelessness

      Only in the 75th paragraph of a 110-paragraph article does the newspaper acknowledge in an offhand way “the deep decline in accidental gun deaths shown in federal statistics dating to the mid-1980s.” Huh? So, even if some accidents are categorized incorrectly as homicides, something good seems to be happening.

      — end quotes —

      If you do some research going back decades, even to the early 1900s, accidental gun deaths have trended down for a century.

      regards,

      lwk

  3. That’s great accidental gun deaths are going down. We can do better. The US is still behind when it comes to the lack of child safety and accidental firearm deaths:

    “In terms of accidental fatalities, American children younger than 15 are nine times more likely to die by a gun accident than those in the rest of the developed world.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/06/gun_deaths_in_children_statistics_show_firearms_endanger_kids_despite_nra.html

    There is always room for improvement.

    • “There is always room for improvement.”

      Certainly we would like to see improvement and indeed we have been seeing just that. We could probably make a real difference if we taught gun safety and responsible gun ownership in our public schools. Of course though many will oppose that. Suppose some people hate guns more than they love kids. Otherwise they would let, for example, schools teach the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program which is squarely aimed at very young children and has one message: “If you see a gun leave the room and go find an adult.” But some people seem to think that encourages kids to want to own guns when they get older, or something.

      But it is curious that you are passionate particularly about gun accidents when young kids are much, much more likely to be killed accidentally in automobile accidents, by drowning, in fires, and by suffocation. There is one thing that I am sure of though. Given a couple hundred million people in a country like the U.S. with multiple dangerous instrumentalities available there will be accidental deaths. We can work to reduce them, but we can’t completely eradicate them given human nature, that is, if we also want to have a fair amount of freedom.

      Also you have to take into account the good that is done with firearms every year, and the probable hundreds of thousands of lives saved by the use of firearms in private hands. Dr. Gary Kleck did a study in the 1990s that indicated over 2 million self defense uses with a probably 400,000 lives saved, but we have to remember that crime, violence, and homicides were much higher then (homicide rate today is half what it was then and the crime rate overall is even much lower).

      Any evaluation of something like the social usefulness of firearms is always going to be a messy equation that will be subject to controversy, claims, and counter claims. But whether Klecks’ figures were spot on, or not, there have been a large number of studies now that have found very significant use of firearms in self defense, and the really cool thing about the vast majority is that gun is not fired to accomplish the goal of keeping the violent and criminal at bay. The very threat of deadly force in the hands of potential victims stops a lot of bad things from happening.

      I guess my message is simply this. No matter which side you are one, there is no absolutely black and white answer where all good is one side and all bad on the other. Human affairs tend to be like that. 🙂

      regards,

      lwk

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