A recent negligent shooting case from Shreveport, Louisiana underscores the important of teaching gun safety:
The negligent shooting
Below is an excerpt from a new article about the shooting death of 17 year old Damarcus Jones:
Burns said Jones was among a group of people congregating inside the house when a friend of his began playing with a gun. The friend pulled the trigger, thinking the weapon was empty when it fired one shot, Burns said. “We all saw the gun, but everybody thought there weren’t any bullets in it,” she said. . . [Jones was pronounced dead a short time later at LSU Hospital Shreveport.]
Why there is no such thing as an “accidental” shooting
The difference between “accidental” and “negligent” goes far beyond just semantics. “Accident” refers to an event that occurred despite the use of proper care and skill. Accidents are not anyone’s fault. “Negligence” refers to a failure to exercise the proper care and skill that a reasonable person would have exercised. Negligence is the fault of a person. “Accidents” are the things that we can’t foresee, such a the chain reaction that lead to the near loss of Apollo 13. Negligence and recklessness are what happen when gun owners, who know that projectiles from guns can be deadly, choose to disregard the basics of gun safety. Such disregard only leads to tragedy, and gives anti-gun groups more fodder for their public-opinion war against guns and gun rights (and yes, one negligent gun owner will get more time in the news than the other 150 million responsible gun owners).
Why this was negligence, rather than an “accident”
I will start by saying that the family of the deceased boy has my deepest condolences. My goal in writing this article is not to assign blame, but rather to discuss the situation out of the hope that others will learn and avoid repeating such a tragedy in the future, thereby saving other lives. With that said:
In this case, based upon the facts reported in the news, it appears that one person left a loaded gun lying around in an area occupied by minors who were not knowledgeable about gun safety, which is incredibly negligent. Then, one or more people found a gun and decided to play with it, being so negligent as to simultaneously point the gun at a person and pull the trigger. The result was that one person is dead.
The gun, which is a mechanically simple tool, is not to blame. Instead, as is always the case, it is the actions of one or more humans is the issue. Had the owner of this firearm safely stored their gun so that it was not accessible to untrained minors, this negligent shooting would not have occurred. Had the individuals present been properly instructed as to the basics of gun safety and followed that instruction, this negligent shooting would not have occurred. There is no simply justification for pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger unless one intends to shoot that person. It is similarly unwise and dangerous for a person to stand around while others negligently play with a gun.
Why these negligent shootings are such a problem for responsible gun owners
As a responsible and law-abiding gun owner, I practice the rules of gun safety so as to avoid the risk of negligently harming myself or others. I store my guns in a manner that will not allow a child or criminal to gain access. I have ensured that those in my house (and office) are well trained in gun safety, and have the knowledge necessary to be safe should they come upon a gun. Were I to observe someone unsafely handling a gun, I would take immediate action to put a stop to the unsafe situation, and leave the area if need be to avoid further risk of harm to myself. In sum, I’m not too worried about a negligent shooting in my life.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that negligent shootings such as this are not a threat to my gun rights, and the rights of every other law abiding gun owner. When a person negligently shoots themselves or another, the media coverage often portrays it as an “accident” that is part of an inherent risk of having a gun. Those who do not know better come to believe that utter untruth, and will shy away from learning about or owning guns. A lack of understanding reinforces that erroneous belief, and leads to support for ineffective and unreasonable anti-gun laws that threaten the rights of law abiding gun owners.
Instead of a gun ban, what is needed is gun safety education for both adults children. Gun safety education for adults will help prevent those adults from leaving loaded guns in dangerous places, while the gun safety education for children will help prevent children from playing with a gun, should they ever find one. Sadly, there are individuals who ignore these facts and the relevant studies, and instead believe that the answer is to make guns and the discussion of guns into a taboo topic. When that happens, tragedy is the result.
Those seeking more information on children and guns, insofar as home defense and the risk to children, are encouraged to read this other article, as well as the “related articles” shown below on this page.