Hunting season is starting soon or has already started in North America. I believe we are shooting the ducks now in Minnesota. Hmmm. I wonder if this is the year we call the Sheriff to report the guys who hunt illegally in the marsh by the cabin. People are a bit more safety conscious with a toddler toddling around, even though he actually presents a very small target and the marsh is a bit far away for a shotgun blast to be much of a problem.

Anyway, people are already starting to drop, and there is some symmetry so far. In Indiana, 18 year old Eric Menefee blasted is father, Eric Sr. while hunting wabbits. Eric Jr got his shotgun (hunting rabbits with a shotgun? Seriously?) tangled up in the bushes and when he tried to pull the gun out “the gun discharged” and his father was shot in the back, dead at the scene. Meanwhile, in Idaho, 7 year a old boy was blasted by his dad, Robert Bartlett, who was stowing a loaded firearm in his truck (please don’t do that) when “the gun went off” mortally wounding the boy. Both of these were cases of people doing things wrong.

Also in idaho, a two year old shot his three year old brother to death. I’ve got no details on that one, but I doubt it was a hunting accident. Well, I suppose it could have been.

In Columbus, one guy shot his best friend to death “by accident” and is now being charged with the killing. There is no indication of exactly what happened other than that the “shotgun accidentally discharged” outside the house and the slain teen, inside the house, took the shot in the side. The four teens involved were not out hunting but it seems that they were getting their firarms ready for hunting.

The kid(s) who killed Conner feel very bad. They all do. The dads who shot their kids, the kids who shot their dads, the friends who shot each other. Surely, they’ve suffered enough.

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16 thoughts on “Try not to shoot anybody, OK?

  1. You’re normally pretty level-headed, but when the topic comes to guns, you appear to have a phobia. These accidents kill hundreds of people each year in the US. Sure, that’s too many, but compare this to tens of thousands of accidental deaths by poison.

    There are always incompetent people to be found, sure. But in the hands of everyone else, gun accidents are rare. I encourage you to learn a little something about guns (yes, people use shotguns for rabbit hunting. This is very normal.) Maybe even go out and try shooting one sometime.

    With a little experience, you’ll easily realize that a gun is simply a tool and has no good or evil intention of its own.

  2. Another aspect to this is that we cannot allow the police to have the discretion about whether to charge or not – that makes the police judge and jury as well. So, without exception, the police must charge the person. This is a NZ example that involves a motor vehicle and the “but he’s suffered enough” argument. I don’t know if you have the discharged without conviction outcome in the US, but it’s something a judge can give over here.

  3. Friday, I don’t have a phobia about guns, but way to go addressing a possible difference in opinion by blaming it on a pyschiatric disorder!

    So, you are saying that if deaths due to poison are more common, that deaths due to accidental discharge are not relevant?

    Did you know that more children die in car accidents than by accidentally ingesting drugs or poisons in the home? therefore, we should not have child proof caps.

    You can’t really be saying that, can you?

    I encourage you to learn a little something about guns (yes, people use shotguns for rabbit hunting. This is very normal.)

    Not where I’ve done my wabbit hunting. They are so much easier to clean when dispatched wiht a .22 I think if you are going after them with a shotgun it is probably for different reasons that I’ve hunted them.

    Anyway, I have a reasonable amount of experience with guns. But the people in these stories have even more, yet they managed to kill each other by failing to follow basic safety rules.

    So, I’m advocating that people follow basic safety rules.

    Can you explain again why you are against gun safety? I seem to have missed your explanation for that!

  4. Kiwi: We have a thing called “Adjournment on contemplation of dismissal” … I”m pretty sure that if a judge used that too often they’d get crap for it, but it is used a lot for first offenses, etc. It’s like supervision free probation with an excellent out come for the defendant if they do it right. After some period of time (say, 6 months or a year) if you do not get in trouble, the charge is dismissed. If, however, you get in trouble earlier than that time limit, they throw the book at you.

    I’m not sure what I think about the NZ case. They don’t mention forensics vis-a-vis the brake.

  5. Hi Greg, thanks for your comments. The last line in that piece said that the van was found to have no mechanical faults. One factor that they check when doing a mechanical analysis is the handbrake, so the mechanical analysis found no issue with the handbrake (e.g. it wasn’t loose or broken). In NZ, serious crash investigations look at the person, environment, and vehicle factors to try to establish the relative influence of each on the outcome. So, it would appear that the handbrake should have worked as expected.

  6. In California when I lived there, hunters were required to wear blaze orange vests to cut down on hunters accidentally shooting each other. If you were a hiker or horseback rider or cyclist, though, there was no vest requirement. Always seemed spooky to me.

    • I’ve done quite a bit of field archaeology (survey mostly) during hunting season in hunting areas. On occassion, we’ve brought along a boom box to supplement the blaze orange. Sadly we annoyed some hunters but in the long run, better that they don’t shoot us accidentally all way around. Also, this is not a good time to wear your deer suit.

  7. I appreciate this post for two main reasons: (1) You are simply advocating basic gun safety, and (2) You were attacked for advocating basic gun safety. I have friends and relatives who like guns and collect guns. They all follow basic (and sometimes beyond) gun safety, and none of them would have an issue with your post. In fact, they are proud of the steps they’ve taken for gun safety. But the moment anyone with an unnatural fear of losing his or her guns hears something about locking up the guns when not in use, not handing the gun to a young child, not carrying a loaded gun in the back of a pickup, etc, it sets them off (as do the words “common sense,” oddly enough).

    On the matter of the wabbits, I remember, when I was younger, my father and grandfather having conversations about gun and ammo size vs. prey size (they both hunted for food, not sport – neither one has anything but fish and shed antlers on any of their walls). One of the stories my dad tells about not using a shot gun on a small mammal involves a skunk that was under the cabin. As it turns out, a skunk shoots one stink at you if you upset it, but it is full of about 100 stinks that all get released if you blow it up with a shotgun slug. This was the mental image I had when reading about the father and son hunting for wabbits with a shotgun.

  8. A modern political bifurcation that I find curious is the one between gun owners and environmentalists. Hunting is done in the field. It is a sport that people living in the modern, mostly urban world back to their more elemental roots. Naively, that should create a lot of affinity between hunters and various conservation and environmental groups.

    And a hundred years ago, it did. Think George Grinnel, founder of the Audubon society. Think Teddy Roosevelt.

    But today, gun owners are aligned with the right. One might almost say politically captured. And environmentalists are part of the right’s target groups. Now, yeah, many gun owners don’t hunt. Many hunters only go into the field twice a year during hunting season. And for many, it’s mostly a social thing. Nonetheless. There was that affinity for a long time. Maybe it will return some decades hence.

    • OK, last time I had a beer with a hunter, here’s how the conversation went:

      “Yeah, jeb tells me thars been a lot of wolves over there by the Old Grade Road”

      “Oh really? Do tell”

      “Eyup. Jeeter and Bubba saw four five of them wolves when they were checkin’ out their deer stands just last week”

      “Really? Interesting.

      “You bethya. And we’re plannin’ to do something about it too.”

      “Oh really? What might that be”

      “Let’s just say they’s gonna be an un-author-ized wolf hunt over by the old grade road some time next month, when the leaves done fell.”

      “Oh. OK, well, that’s interesting.”

      So yes, there is a theoretical alliance between hunters and nature lovers. But these days ,what happens, is that the hunters pay for a lot of the nature-supporting state programs through their fees (at least ’round here, the legislature has set it up that way) and the hunters have lots of guns. So, they pretty much hold the nature lovers hostage. Or should I say, they hold the wildlife hostage, and the nature lovers are being extorted.

      I don’t know if that wolf hunt happened or not. I’ll probably find out this weekend.

  9. I have an orange vest for archaeological survey during deer season out here. I haven’t had to use any noisy devices, yet, but I did scare up a buck with the work truck, once. I’m sure someone was unhappy about that.

    Our uniforms are khaki and brown. Sometimes I wonder, even outside of hunting season, what I would say if I were in an emergency. “Look for the person who blends in with the sand!” I now keep a neon pink bandanna with me, just in case.

  10. There’s effectively nobody who is against gun safety. I agree these people are boneheads. But holding up these silly examples as an argument for more law is simply stirring up a moral panic. These incidents are rare, and blatantly negligent behavior is already usually illegal.

    So I’m for gun safety. Everyone should be taught gun safety. But you can’t easily do this when guns are stigmatized or made illegal. Calling people “gun nuts” and posting sensational stories helps stigmatize guns.

  11. Guns are already stigmatization, but I think they should be stigmatized differently.

    In any event, other than just letting the situation remain the same … people can more or less get their hands on whatever guns they want without any commitment to properly learning gun safety, what is your alternative suggestion? Furthermore, one of the big questions we are discussing here is enforceable, or more specifically, the social process whereby those who kill their friends and families have “suffered enough” as an excuse to ignore existing laws.

    For the most part, we are not talking about new laws.

  12. One of my lecturers used to say, there’s a lot of people in jail for murder who will never murder again because they committed the act under a combination of circumstances that will never recur for them.

    I have mixed feelings about jail. The point of jail is retribution for something that was done – if justice was restorative or rehabilitative we would have a different system. Obviously vigilante justice is something that no civil society should desire instead of law. And I do agree that for some people, the death that they caused is something they have to live with for the rest of their lives and it pretty much doesn’t matter what else we do to them as punishment, as their suffering will continue until they die (it is in their nature). But for others, they suffer very little if at all. So do we have the system we do because we cannot accurately distinguish between the two types of person and we want to ensure that punishment occurs?

    I don’t have any answer, just questions šŸ™

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