As reported, Dale G. Barkstrom, a 28 year old man from Crystal Lake, IL was charged with attempted murder after his girlfriend was shot in the face while the two were in bed together. Barkstrom’s reported defense is that the shooting was unintentional. He reportedly claims that his gun was on his bed, when his dog knocked the gun to the floor, and that it “went off” when he picked the gun back up and placed it on the bed:
Even assuming that everything Mr. Barkstrom says is true, and that he did not intend to shoot his girlfriend, I still see some rather gross negligence on his part (and no blameworthiness on the part of the dog). First, a round shouldn’t have been in the chamber. Secondly, Dale Barkstrom shouldn’t have had his finger on or near the trigger, as the trigger should only be touched when it is time to fire a gun. Thirdly, the gun shouldn’t have been pointed at his girlfriend’s face. It is also important to note that the dog (allegedly) knocking the gun off the bed didn’t cause it to fire – instead, the gun was fired after Mr. Barkstrom picked it back up.
It is sad see an individual blame their either negligent or criminal acts on a gun. Sadly, a large percentage of the population does not own or understand guns, and may actually see this as an “accident” caused by gun ownership, rather than negligence or criminality on the part of a individual. As a gun owner and dog owner, I can say that I have yet to shoot my girlfriend in the face while laying in bed – and I’m confident that I never will, since I am responsible with my firearms. I don’t keep a round in the chamber, and instead store my shotguns in a safe yet ready to use manner. I keep my finger off the trigger and follow the other rules of gun safety. I also never allow my gun to point at anything I don’t wish to shoot. Modern firearms that are properly maintained simply don’t go off on their own, due to reliable designs and a variety of safety features. Instead, they fire only when the user pulls the trigger after having loaded the gun. This in turn means that there is simply no such thing as an accidental shooting – only negligent/reckless/intentional shootings.