I’ve previously discussed how there is no such thing as an “accidental” shooting, and how such unintentional shootings are virtually always the result of someone failing to act reasonably around firearms. A recent example, in which an elderly man reportedly shot his wife in the chest while conducting a “home invasion drill,” underscores this point:
The negligent shooting
The shooting, as reported:
Cocoa Beach, FL, United States (AHN) – An elderly Florida woman was accidentally shot in the chest by her husband this week while the couple was going over a mock home invasion drill. Arnold Morris, 77, pulled out a small-caliber pistol from his pocket and pointed it at his wife of 54 years, Patricia Morris, 72. The reenactment almost turned deadly when Arnold Morris accidentally fired the weapon, hitting Patricia in the chest. Arnold was playing the victim and Patricia was supposed to be the robber. Arnold called 911 right away and provided medical attention until first responders arrived, according to ClickOrlando.com [The woman reportedly survived, after being taken to the hospital and undergoing surgery.]
Lessons to be learned from this entirely preventable shooting
As in all negligent shooting cases, there are lessons to be learned. I offer the following discussion not to deride Mr. and Mrs. Morris, but rather to bring to light the errors in judgment that led to this shooting. Hopefully, others will learn from this case, and avoid tragedy in their lives.
- Firstly, it is NEVER appropriate to point a gun at a person whom one does not intend to shoot – and it doesn’t matter how sure one may be that the gun is unloaded. Violating this rule is simply inexcusable.
- Secondly, the trigger of a gun should only be pulled when one wishes to fire that gun. Otherwise, one’s trigger finger should be kept off of the trigger. [Note: some guns require that the trigger be pulled in order to dismantle the gun for cleaning. That is an exception to this safety rule…]
- Thirdly, it is the responsibility of every person who handles a gun to check and be sure whether or not the gun is loaded. This check should be accomplished both visually (looking into the chamber and/or magazine) and tactilely (feeling the chamber and/or magazine) to check for the presence of ammunition. These checks should be performed every time the gun is handled, even if the user is sure that it was left unloaded.
- Fourthly, each person who intends to handle a gun should first familiarize themselves with that gun. Handling a gun that one has no clue how to operate is unwise, and endangers the safety of everyone nearby. Given the fact that any reputable gun store will provide free instruction as to the safe use of guns that the sell, the free gun safety education offered by the numerous gun clubs and gun rights groups, and the willingness of many gun owners to help their friends learn about guns, there is no excuse for neglecting to learn how to safely use one’s gun.
Note that the above comments are not based upon any new or profound thoughts on my part. Instead, they are not only common sense, but also part of the basic rules of gun safety that are universally accepted and taught.
The gun rights implications of negligent shootings such as this
When there is a negligent shooting, it is almost always called an “accident” by the news media. Indeed, the reports of the shooting often use a fault-free passive-voice method of describing the shooting, saying that the gun “went off.” Gun owners and those who understand guns can quickly recognize such shootings for what they are – negligence. Unfortunately, a large segment of the population doesn’t own guns and don’t understand why such shootings are entirely preventable. Instead, they take such cases as “proof” that guns are too dangerous to own, and that having a gun is asking for disaster. Making matters worse, the news media often widely reports negligent shootings, while often paying little attention to the many cases of armed self defense that occur every day. It is sad and unfair, but the negligence of a few gun owners reflects poorly upon the millions of responsible gun owners.