Thursday, July 10, 2014

Secondhand gunfire

The concept is simple: Secondhand gunfire is a lot like secondhand smoke, which is a dangerous byproduct of smoking. Secondhand gunfire applies to any weapon that discharges without the owner's intention. It is a byproduct of gun ownership.

Whenever you introduce a gun into a space, the people in the space are at risk of injury or death by secondhand gunfire, which is 100 percent preventable. It kills and injures all the time. When it does, watch jaws go agape, eyes blink in disbelief and lips start quivering. At these moments, the smug guns don't kill people, people kill people mantra is replaced with an incredulous how could this ha-ha-ha-happen?

Case in point: this abject failure at parenting and gross negligence that resulted in the death of 2-year-old was ruled an accident. Pure bullshit.

Gun rights advocates point to falling murder and crime rates and never, ever talk about the kids killing kids and gun owners shooting themselves. Shootings that have nothing to do with self-defense, standing your ground or the castle doctrine happen every day. These rarely make it to the national news venues, particularly if the shooting only injures.

Although I could fill page after page with examples of secondhand gunfire, here are a few:
A Missouri woman was shot in the face by a stray bullet while celebrating Independence Day after someone fired a gun into the air.

A 9-year-old was shot to death during a gun/play session after a North Carolina mom left the kids home alone.

You go on and try to figure out what happened to this poor devil.
 And this one from 2012 that I have never been able to shake:
A Pennsylvania man accidentally shot and killed his 7-year-old son in a gun store parking lot, when his pistol went off in his hand--a bullet remained in the chamber even though the man had removed the magazine.
The shot-in-the-face-on-the-fourth-of-July victim notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of secondhand gunfire victims are gun owners and their friends and family members, simply because they associate with gun owners and are within the realm of secondhand gunfire, which brings me to the open carry camp.

The fact that a person would walk into a mall, taco joint or discount department store carrying an AR-15 immediately indicates that he is not a good guy with a gun. That weapon is for intimidation and killing and nothing else. And as soon as he shows up with it in an otherwise nonthreatening environment, everyone present is at risk of secondhand gunfire. His holster might malfunction, allowing the weapon to fall and fire. Someone might evoke him, causing him to feel threatened and start firing. What's to say he isn't a Jerad Miller wannabe?

Epiphany: If you don't want to be exposed to secondhand gunfire, stay away from guns.

I intend to do just that. If I am in any place of business or public area and someone shows up with an assault weapon strapped to his person, I am leaving. I am leaving a cart full of merchandise in the aisle, a half-eaten burrito on a plate and (god help me) a barely touched Ketel One on the bar. No, I will not pause to settle the bill.

I will not be subject to secondhand gunfire.

Yes, I understand that people are carrying concealed weapons all around me and that I am subject to the secondhand gunfire from those weapons whether I like it or not. Oh well. There's only so much I can do. At least a concealed carrier is not trying to intimidate everyone around him. The open carrier is. The concealed carrier doesn't strike me as having an itchy trigger finger. The open carrier does.

So it goes, but one thing's for sure. Eventually at one of the open carry rallies, there will be secondhand gunfire. It will be recorded by cell phones and security cameras and judged in the court of public opinion. Maybe it will kill or injure. Maybe it won't.

Either way, we'll see exactly how much support there is for a guy with a neck tattoo and an errant assault weapon who's only trying to "educate the public."

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Tony Rugare said...

Here! Here!

Anonymous said...

I was right there with you 'til you went after neck tattoo's. Anyway...those spontaneous gun discharges scare the shit out of me. I worry about my kids. It sucks.


Joe said...

people who carry rifles into a place of business are idiots and they very people who shoot themselves and other by accident. Just because you can, does not mean you should.

I agree I will leave if a nitwit shows up with a rifle or strapped down with weapons like a Rambo wanna-be. I would assume he has bad intentions to me and mine.

Every gun owner should have to take a safety course before they get a carry permit, much like you have to pass a driving test for the privilege of driving on the roads.

Anonymous said...

As much as I abhor the idea of a child being killed, whenever I am made aware that he was killed by a firearm owned and "safeguarded" by his parents, I am reminded of a phrase in the Pournelle/Niven novel "Oath of Fealty" descriptive of situations in which someone passes to the Upper Brightness due to folly. The phrase is "Evolution in Action." The analogy is not exact, because the shot child did not die from his own folly, but rather that of his parents. The result, however, is the same in that the parents' genes that would have passed on via the child will have to do so by another route. Senex Ægypti Parvi

Erin O'Brien said...

When Joe and I agree on something, it's pretty clear to me there is only one right answer. In this case it's this: no one should be brandishing threatening weapons in non threatening situations including the cops. No, I'm not talking about the standard sidearm, I'm talking about throwing grenades at sleeping babies.

Sickening, all of it.

Anonymous said...

I live in a civilized first world country where gun control is enforced and we never have to look like sub humans in front of the rest of the world. You say you will leave a shop if you see a gun? Where I live, I have literally never seen a gun in my 40+ years on the planet. If someone produced a gun in a shop it would be an utter catastrophe - unthinkable, unimaginable. I find it really tragic that you North Americans have such tolerance for aggression that the rest of the world is revolted by.

Anonymous said...

I find it rare when I agree with Erin. I am sick of gun owners who are not responsible for their weapons. My dad taught every gun is loaded, treat it that way, never point a gun at something you don’t want to shoot. I agree with Joe, a gun safety class should be mandatory and guns should be required to be sold with trigger locks. I am also sick of police departments that think they are some sort of trained special operations command. Special Forces, Seals, and Blue Light require years of training, and an elimination program that sorts out the glory hunters, the police forces just issue the weapons, take them to the range and give them a free retired MRAP that they can’t maintain and is illegal to drive on most states highways because of weight and width.


Erin O'Brien said...

James, this phenomenon with the local SWAT team, armed to the eyeballs with military equipment, busting down doors to find a single marijuana plant is INSANE.

As for the open carry zealots, I don't know anyone supporting them save themselves.

You used to hear about guys in delivery trucks holstering up with a sidearm if they had to deliver in very dangerous neighborhoods and were at risk of robbery. I can understand that, but with gun proliferation as it is, I wonder if that makes them more of a target than anything else.

As for your dad's homespun safety recommendations, I grew up with the same ones. I like the safety class idea as well.

Remember the well-worn mantra: guns and alcohol don't mix? Now we're allowing guns in bars. How stupid can things get?

It's the NRA for the win.

Anonymous said...

Trying to have a civil discussion about guns, regulations and common sense doesn't seem to work with the extremes of the conservative and liberal groups. It would be impossible to confiscate all the guns in the country. No one needs a 30 round magazine for their play pretend assault rifle. People who have mental issues,ex convicts and politicians should not be allowed to own a gun. Hell most states won't allow them to own a dog. A little common sense would go a long way. In this day and age a positive id should be required for gun purchase,voting, drivers license applications, etc, etc. Make the background check fast and painless, with all these computer that should be easy. I could rant on but you get the idea. Open carry is stupid, so are guns in bars as well as guns and drugs.


Erin O'Brien said...

"It would be impossible to confiscate all the guns in the country."

No one here suggested that.

Perhaps there are groups on the "extreme left," but they are not nearly as numerous or vocal as the ones on the extreme right. They are also not the ones leading the discussion for the left side of the aisle.

The radical right, however, is the tail wagging the entire country on this issue.

Anonymous said...

One proposal not yet raised in this thread is requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance just like auto owners. At least there'd be some sort of compensation for unintended victims of "accidental" shootings. But, you, know... the Constitution.


Anonymous said...

Yes, RJ, and that insurance should be very, very high-priced. And apply to each, individual gun owned. Your rights are still your rights. But once it becomes cost-prohibitive, well, heh heh

Erin O'Brien said...

Weapon insurance would be a complex thing to tackle, but requiring a general liability policy in order to obtain a CCW permit would be a start.

Confidential to RJ: I promise to have the same reaction to an armed gunman in a Burger King whether or not he's got a neck tattoo.

Anonymous said...

@ Erin-You may already have gun liability coverage-ask you insurance agent what your homeowner's policy covers.