Robert Duda told police that he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally went off, killing his 14 year old son. One can easily imagine a scenario where everyone would feel bad for Robert Duda, figure he had suffered enough with the loss of his son, got him some therapy, and perhaps sent flowers to be lain on young Bryan’s grave. But, that is not how things worked out, because Somerset County Sheriffs did their job.

On further investigation it was determined that Robert’s story was inaccurate. According to a criminal complaint filed earlier today, police alledge that Bryan Duda, the 14 year old, was joking with his dad, saying “shoot me dad, shoot me.” His father obliged by pointing the loaded gun at him and, apparently, pulling the trigger. The young boy died later at the hospital.

The charges include reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter.

I note that the news report to which I refer is very carefully worded to not say that Robert pulled the trigger. Just that he pointed the gun at his son, then the bullet came out of the gun and hit the boy. I threw in that part about the guy holding the gun pulling the trigger. That probably really isn’t in question. The question would be, did the father intentionally fire a loaded gun in order to kill his son; did he intentionally fire a loaded gun in order to shoot near his sun for the fun of it or for some other reason; did he not intent to pull the trigger but he did by accident; did he think the gun was empty and pulled the gun intentionally but oops it was loaded; did the gun go off entirely on it’s own while he just happened to be holding it, pointing at his son? Have I missed anything?

Here’s the original report.

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13 thoughts on “Father charged in shooting of son

  1. All I’m going to say is that there is no such thing as an “accidental” shooting. If you have the gun out, and pointed at something, YOU INTEND TO KILL IT.

  2. I won’t be surprised if we later discover that the preceding conversation was less jokey and a little more argumentative.

  3. To call what happened an “accident” is completely absurd! It was gross and willful stupidity and entirely avoidable. An accident is something that happens in spite of great care taken to prevent it from happening.
    Gun nuts are always insisting that gun crimes need to be punished harshly. This was a gun crime. Punish it harshly. Put up some billboards in public places reminding people that Duda killed his son through stupidity with a firearm. Robert Duda has suffered, and he deserves to suffer some more.

  4. Rule #1 of gun safety, don’t point it anything you don’t intend to destroy. Depending on whose list it is, it’s also probably rules #2, 5, 8 and 10.

  5. Have I missed anything?

    Son loaded the normally unloaded gun and conned his father into pulling the trigger. Teen suicide plus laying a ton of guilt on the father. Likely? Beats me, but it seems possible.

  6. There are no “accidents” with guns. The rules for using guns are clear and unambiguous.

    I have been hunting for over 30 years, and I have done target practice. There is no margin for accidents in using guns.
    You choose not to follow the rules – that is intentionally and not by accident.

    There is no accident in using your gun wrongly. There is only you making the wrong choice.

  7. Empty guns kill more people than loaded ones.

    Don’t buy it if you ain’t gonna draw it.
    Don’t draw it if you ain’t gonna shoot it.
    Don’t shoot it if you ain’t gonna hit with it.
    Don’t hit if you don’t wanna kill.

    Don’t buy it if you’re not prepared to kill with it.(1)

    1) Ok, this only refers to guns bought for self defence, not for target shooting. But in that case:

    – Don’t buy it if you don’t intend to get to know it well.
    – – Practice, practice, practice! (2)
    – Don’t carry or draw it purely with the intent to intimidate.
    – Don’t shoot to miss, you may only get one shot
    – Don’t shoot to wound, you may miss, or you may kill your assailant anyway. Don’t think you can avoid the guilt of taking a human life this way, chances are you won’t

    2) I was horrified when a friend of mine bought a gun and promptly left it in his cupboard, unfired. Why didn’t he take it to the shooting range? You need to know how to use it before the lead starts flying, and anyway, isn’t target-shooting a hell of a lot of fun in itself?

  8. “Robert Duda told police that he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally went off”

    Does anybody ever fall for that one?

  9. I remember seeing “I was cleaning the gun and it accidentally went off” on one of those true crime shows (the kind where they do reenactments and interview the actual people involved, not one of those fictional drama shows that are “based on true stories”). They determined that, despite the gun being in pieces, it was still capable of being fired and that the guy’s wife had her arms up in a defensive posture. So, yeah, they determined that the guy deliberately shot his wife and tried to use the “I was cleaning it” excuse to deflect suspicion.

  10. I’m not a gun guy and even I know that the gun is ALWAYS loaded and ready to go off! My grandmother was almost killed with an empty gun. Even if you have stripped it to clean it, that barrel has no business in the vicinity of anything you can’t afford to shoot.

  11. When I’m teaching people about guns the first thing I say, “I don’t care if Jesus Christ himself comes down from on high and hands you a guns he says is empty, you ALWAYS check the gun to see if it’s loaded. The reason is because if you are holding the gun and kill someone, you’re ass is prosecuted, not the guy who gave you the gun.”

    Then I’ll hand them the gun that I just checked to see if it’s empty. If we are at a range, then I’ll use a palmed bullet and slip it into the chamber while handing it to them. If they don’t check for bullets, then the day is over and we go home.

    As an aside about the “I was cleaning it line (lie)”. Cleaning a gun usually involves running some form of cleaning device through the barrel. Probably 75% of the users only clean the barrel of the gun. In a semi-auto, you CANNOT clean the barrel with a bullet loaded. It’s physically impossible to push a cleaning rod through the barrel with an object designed to fill the barrel in the way. In a revolver, you must move the cylinder out of line of the barrel to clean it.

    Any competent person disassembles the gun before cleaning it anyway. Remove the magazine, clear the chamber, remove the slide/barrel from the frame. Then it’s physically impossible for it to go off. There’s no connection between the trigger and the cartridge.

    Yes, this guy was lying. He was not cleaning his gun. He was jacking around with it like a moron.

    But I guess a few people who are idiots ruin it for everyone else. People are too stupid to own guns.

  12. Trebuchet @5 –

    I believe that scenario is commonly called ‘suicide by Pop’.

    More seriously, it’s the wording of the article that gets me the most. They very very carefully avoid any mention of Dad shooting Junior. The gun went off. That’s all they say – the gun went off.

    Well, so much for the NRA’s bumper-stickerism about guns not killing people, huh?

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