Tag Archives: gun control

How much like Byron Smith is the average gun owner?

I refuse to live in fear. I am not a bleeding heart liberal. I have a civic duty. I have to do it. Burglars are not human, they are vermin. I try to be a good person, to do what I should, be a good citizen.

Those are among the words uttered by Byron Smith shortly after he murdered two teenagers in his home last Thanksgiving. There had been numerous break-ins in Smith’s neighborhood near Little Falls, Minnesota. Byron set a trap, making his home look vulnerable and unoccupied. If the burglars were to break into his home, they would come in a certain way, and end up descending the stairs into his basement. There, he set up a sniper’s nest of sorts, with food and beverages and ammo, and waited. Eventually the trap was sprung. One of the two teenagers that had been carrying out these break-ins descended the stairs, Smith shot him dead, and dragged the body out of sight. Then the second teenager came down the stairs, and he shot her. She did not die easily, so he shot her a few times. Then he said a few words into the recording machine that had been running the whole time. Eventually, but not right away, he reported the incident. There are more details, but that is the gist of what happened.

Byron Smith was convicted of homicide. It turns out that setting a trap for possible home invaders and then killing them is not considered one’s right. Or, as Smith might put it, one’s duty.

There are two things about this incident I’d like to point out, one pretty straight forward, the other likely to be controversial. Let’s start with the straight forward one.

The chances of this working are slim. If there are burglaries happening in your neighborhood, and you set up a trap like Smith did, the chances that the trap will work are not high. But the trap did work for Smith. I know this is only a single incident, but think about this for a second. It is safe, though not statistically provable by any means, to assume (or at least, guess) that for every trap-setting Byron Smith there is a large number of others doing the same thing but not getting results. In fact, there are probably a few people who have actually managed to trap people this way, but did it differently than Byron, less overtly, and that we don’t know about. My point is simply this: Among the gun owners in this country who feel it is OK to arm themselves with the expectation of killing one or more intruders, it is likely that a non-zero percentage of them are just like Byron but maybe a tad smarter, or a tad less interested in falling on the proverbial sword once the deed is done.

The second point is that anyone who decides that it is OK to arm themselves with the expectation of killing an intruder is at least a little like Byron Smith. Oh, no, you may say, a person arming themselves is simply trying to protect themselves and their families from danger, they are not attempting to kill someone. But that does not really make a person that different from Smith. There are multiple alternatives to killing intruders. One set of alternatives has to do with keeping intruders out to begin with. Smith made it easy for the intruders to enter his home. What about a person who has $350 to spend on protecting their home, and has the choice between reinforcing the possible entrance ways vs. purchasing a firearm? If one purchases the firearm and keeps it loaded and handy, but has easily broken doors or locks, that is a little like setting a trap, because it is relatively easy for someone to break into your home and, once they’ve broken in, relatively easy to shoot them. That is a passive setting of a trap.

Think about all the different aspects involved here, most of which can be ascertained from looking at the Smith case. Do you feel that taking a life is equivalent to protecting your home? Are you prepared to own a dangerous weapon? Are you prepared to keep the weapon ready and loaded? Did you spend money and effort on arming yourself instead of securing your home better, under the false assumption that you can’t really stop a determined burglar? Did you avoid making it clear someone was home? Do you find yourself checking on your firearm and making sure it is extra handy, instead of taking other action, when you hear about break-ins in your neighborhood? Just how much like Byron Smith are you?

I suspect that the majority of people who arm themselves are not a lot like Byron Smith. But is it OK to be half like him? 10% like him? 1% like him?

If you want to contemplate these questions, I ask you do do one thing as part of that process. Listen to the tape Smith made. Listen to the whole thing, and do so along with reading about descriptions of what happened, what he confessed to, what he was convicted of.

Here is one of the many available descriptions of the event.

Here is the tape. Listen to all of it and imagine yourself being a little like Byron Smith. Or, perhaps, ask yourself how much like Byron Smith is your neighbor, friend, relative, or enemy?

Mark Kessler has been suspended.

As I suggested might happen, the town of Gilberton, Pennsylvania suddenly realized that having an over the top crazy gun nut as chief of police use town weapons to make his own YouTube video threatening a large percentage of the citizens of the United States was not a good idea. When Kessler finally goes over the top and opens fire on a bunch of people he disagrees with, the town probably does not want to be involved as his employer or as the entity that owns the weapons (though as I understand it, Kessler bought the weapons with his own money and gave them to the police force, probably as a way of getting around the fact that his favorite toys are banned except for official use).

Unfortunately, the suspension is temporary

In a closed meeting, the council voted 5-1 to suspended Kessler for 30 days, “for use of borough property for non-borough purposes without prior borough permission.” In one of the videos, the tiny town’s sole police officer used automatic weapons, which he was only legally authorized to do in his official capacity.

After the vote, there was what PennLive’s John Luciew described as an “impromptu gun rights rally,” with supporters with “all manner of firearms strapped to their belts and hanging from their shoulders.”

… but I’m guessing this is only a first step.

The image above, from here, shows some of the other gun nuts from Gilberton who formed a heavily armed mob to protest the town’s decision.

What Does The George Zimmerman Not Guilty Verdict Mean?

First, I want to say this to George Zimmerman and his lawyer. Stop whining. You are the one who chose to kill someone, and did so, then got away with it. It is not you who lost or who has had your life torn apart or taken away or anything like that. So stop being the damn victim. No one is going to hunt you down and kill you. That’s you, George. That’s you who hunts down and kills people. Other people, generally, don’t do that. No one is going to hunt you down and kill you or in any other way bother you. Having said that, it is true that much of the part of humanity that is aware of your existence will view you as a dangerous monster for the rest of your life, but I’m thinking that you view this as a good thing because you are the guy who hunts down and kills people. I think that is all I want to say to whiny George Zimmerman and hid Whiny Lawyer.

The big concern now is this: Black will riot in cities across the land and/or mainly whitish vigilantes will flood the streets and shoot anything with a hoodie.

For the most part neither of these things will happen. If there is one thing we’ve learned from the last few decades of changes in gun laws, sudden and dramatic events related to firearm use and abuse, etc. is that a) the brownish people never really go to the streets to kill all the whitish people and b) the gun nuts never really change what they do or the rate at which they do it. And, I’ll add c) criminals and miscreants don’t pay much attention to any of this stuff. Nothing is going to happen.

I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be change. The Zimmerman trial outcome has actually helped to galvanize the anti-gun lobby a little bit, and that lobby was already in action. If anything, this event may bring into the fold a few groups that were not already as engaged. It turns out that the youth are at constant risk of being killed or maimed in this country by older males with firearms, and that this risk applies across levels of privilege, variations in skin tone, regions of the country, urban vs. rural, and all of that.

For young people in the United States, your chance of being killed by a firearm-wielding adult male, in a fire arms accident, or by a self inflicted gunshot, is much higher than the chance of dying of any disease. Guns are the new polio. Guns are the new small pox. Guns are the new plague.

Two things are starting to dawn on the American population. First, we are realizing that the possession of handguns as a constitutionally protected right to stave off an oppressive government is a failed fantasy. Imagine having the right to free speech but everyone’s larynx is removed routinely at birth. Imagine having the right to free assembly and due process but we are locked in separate cages at the age of ten forever. Absurd ideas, aren’t they? We are guaranteed the right to stave off an oppressive government by having a right to own firearms. That worked great with the Patriot Act. The NSA … they never considered spying on American citizens because HANDGUNS. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies will never use Drones on US soil because …. hey, wait a minute …

The second thing we’ve come to realize is that guns are actually very very dangerous. For a couple of generations we’ve grown up with “bang bang you’re dead” style entertainment on TV and in movies, and I think a lot of people don’t realize what really happens when someone pulls the trigger. People don’t experience the temporary (or not) loss of hearing from the sound (especially in a closed space), the smell of the explosion that happens inside the gun, the smell of the blood that spills of the floor. When you ears start to hear again after the shots, there is the sound of the screaming or moaning or incredulous ranting (“You shot me, you shot me, I can’t believe you shot me”) followed by some sort of silence, the silence of a severely wounded person, the silence of a brooding son or daughter with a minor injury to the flesh but a permanent injury to their psyche having just been shot at by daddy, or the silence a person makes when they lie unconscious and bleeding out, or the silence of a corpse.

But now we have soldiers, many more soldiers, among us who know that guns are real and “bang band you’re dead” is not. We have an increasing awareness of an increasing number of incidents in which all the people in a school or all the people who went to see a movie or all the people who visited their candidate for Congress or some other thing suddenly experience the terror of the blasting, the smells, the screaming, the different kinds of deathly silence, and in many cases, personally experience the tearing and exploding flesh, with the lucky ones perhaps being those who are killed quickly by some guy who has expressed his constitutional right to bear arms by firing as many bullets as possible into a crowd.

The Zimmerman verdict moves us measurably closer to effective gun control. This is not the way we should be moving away from the Middle Ages and towards a Civilized World, but it is in fact the only way we seem to be moving. There will be more stand-your-ground shootings, more archaic laws, more unjust verdicts, more mass shootings, all against the background of something close to 3,000 firearm assisted youth suicides and a somewhat larger number of deadly gunshot wounds during crime and street fighting, and no effect on what the government or big corporations do to repress or exploit the average person and no invasions from Canada or Mexico that could only be stopped by a “well regulated militia.” And every now and then some truly good guy will shoot a truly bad guy, stopping the bad guy from doing something truly bad, and people will notice that a handful of such cases against thousands and thousands of gun related deaths a year is not worth it.

Above all, and please never lose sight of this, guns are toys. We are talking about the preservation of the right to play with specific toys, and the right to extend that play into the street and to involve people who did not want to play with these toys to begin with. Stand your ground is a game, it is boys with their toys playing cops and robbers. Boys with their toys build forts in their homes and protect them from invasion. Boys with their toys get together in groups and go out on the street to play army. Boys with their toys collect toys and take them apart and put them together and clean them until they are shiny. Boys with their toys go to big meetings with other boys and trade and sell and exchange and show off. Boys with their toys go to galleries where they can practice and raise their scores.

George Zimmerman was a boy with his toy, and he played cops and robbers, and Treyvon Martin died because he did not follow Zimmerman’s instructions to stand down. Half this country thinks it is OK for a boy like George to take his toy into the street and make other people play and kill them when they do not. The other half is appalled. That second half, it’s growing.

An Armed Guard, or a Big Mac, in Every School….

… would not have helped at Sandy Hook … the armed guards would have been the fist to be killed … or at any of the other places where there have been mass shootings with armed guards present or very near by. Also, many, many schools already have a “school resource officer” on duty. In Minnesota there seems to be one at every school, and that may be good, but we’ve had our share of school gun play. The call by the NRA to put an armed guard in every school is little more than a marketing scheme to sell a few hundred thousand guns. MacDonalds would also like to put a Big Mac in every school.

But do look at this video and in particular NRA dupe Asa Hutchinson’s response to Judy Woodruff’s questions, starting at 4:00. At 7:30 he admits that he and/or the NRA feel that there are no viable restrictions or other legislative remedies that can address gun violence. But here is my favorite part: At just after 7:50 he is asked a very simple question about background checks, and then disagrees with 90% of all Americans with the most mealy mouthed answer ever given.

Watch NRA Group Offers Proposal for Armed Security at U.S. School on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

All kinds of stuff about guns and gun control

For starters, I’ve put a bunch of videos including a must see by Jon Steward and another must see by Melissa Harris-Perry HERE. Following is a veritable carnival of topical and timely posts, stories, and sites:

Warning shot: Gun violence lands US lowest life expectancy among rich nations

Widespread gun ownership and lax firearms controls were deemed major reasons for the US topping a list of violent deaths in wealthy nations. The study comes amid a fiery gun control debate, triggered by the fatal school shooting at Sandy Elementary.

The 378-page survey by a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, listed unintentional injuries, quite often caused by guns, among reasons why people in America die young more often than in other countries.

The Hitler gun control lie: Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong

This week, people were shocked when the Drudge Report posted a giant picture of Hitler over a headline speculating that the White House will proceed with executive orders to limit access to firearms. The proposed orders are exceedingly tame, but Drudge’s reaction is actually a common conservative response to any invocation of gun control.

The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizing posters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”

In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”

Nine Media Myths About Proposals To Strengthen Gun Laws

Is any attempt to regulate firearms a violation of the Second Amendment?

Is it true that weaker gun laws lead to lower crime rates?

Does the public support gun violence prevention measures?

Does the NRA have the ability to remove from office politicians who support stronger gun laws?

Have any proposals been put forward which would result in federal gun confiscation?

Are guns that are commonly called assault weapons more dangerous than other firearms?

Are sellers at gun shows required to perform a background check on buyers?

Would closing the private sales loophole prevent private citizens from selling firearms?

Has the Obama administration proposed using an executive order to outlaw certain firearms?

EXCLUSIVE: Unmasking the NRA’s Inner Circle

The resurgent debate over gun control has put a spotlight on the hardline leaders of the National Rifle Association. In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre delivered a full-throated rejection of gun control and called for more firearms in schools, while David Keene, the group’s president, predicted the failure of any new assault weapons ban introduced in Congress. The two NRA figureheads purported to speak for more than 4 million American gun owners, though the group’s membership may in fact be smaller.

Local Gun Control Advocate Talks About Meeting At White House

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The National Rifle Association and Wal-Mart, the largest gun retailer in the country, are set to meet with Vice President Biden today at the White House; all part of his gun violence task force. This comes a day after the Vice President met with gun control advocates.

Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeasefirePA, along with the others from around the country brought some common ideas and hopes at the White House.

“There was a focus not just on the general idea of background checks on all guns, but making sure all states share their mental health records with the federal database.”

Where Congress Stands on Guns

In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama on Wednesday announced new national gun control measures. He has already urged members of Congress to do the same. Here is our comprehensive look at where lawmakers stand on guns, as well as political spending and voting history. Explore and share what you think Congress should do about guns in this country.

A message to the Republicans about gun background checks

The message to Republicans and some Democrats who are still walking the walk and talking the talk of the gun rights extremists came from an unlikely source today. Frank Luntz, Republican pollster, wrote in the Washington Post today about how wrong the Republicans have been about their messaging and their extreme language. Here is what Luntz had to say about the language regarding guns and gun policy:

“Beyond fiscal policy, Republicans need to revamp their messaging on other issues. For example, the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., offered Republicans a chance to discuss public safety — a more personal issue than “crime” — on a human level. That hasn’t happened, but it still can. Most people agree that there is a middle ground between gun-control hard-liners, who see every crime as an excuse to enact new laws, and the National Rifle Association, which sees every crime as an excuse to sell more guns. The Second Amendment deserves defending, but do Republicans truly believe that anyone should be able to buy any gun, anywhere, at any time? If yes, they’re on the side of less than 10 percent of America. If not, they need to say so.”

Luntz’s question is an important one and one raised on my blog often….

Letter to Eric Cantor. Gun-Related Deaths in US Children: Government Complicity

Dear Representative Cantor:

I direct this correspondence to you due to your leadership position in the House, your record on ‘gun rights’ legislation that has earned you an A rating by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and because your party this past election cycle received 89% of the political contributions issued by the NRA – this nation’s leading ‘gun rights’ lobbying organization. You are listed as the 4th leading recipient of such contributions in the House.

I write you not only as a concerned citizen and parent regarding the issue of gun violence in America, but as an individual whose career involved responsibility for assessing and reporting product safety in a federally regulated industry (pharmaceuticals). I have held senior executive positions, consulted for corporations, and have been before government regulators on numerous occasions. Unlike most (if not all) consumer products, guns remain unregulated for health and safety. In the industry where I worked, federal law required us to not only assure the safety of our products, but that we take steps to reduce risk, finding an optimal balance between benefit and risk….

Newtown-Based Gun Industry Trade Association Begins Celebration of Guns This Week in Vegas

While America continues to grieve over the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and begins looking for answers, for Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s multi-million dollar trade association, it’s back to business as usual.

Faced, in its own hometown, with the real-world horror that can be inflicted with the military-style weapons it helps market and has tried to euphemistically “rebrand” as “modern sporting rifles,” NSSF took a page out of the National Rifle Association’s post-tragedy playbook. It issued a short notice of sympathy and then refused to talk to the press, hoping, as has happened all too many times before, that public anguish and anger would fade as time passed.

In Wake of Newtown, It’s Time for America to Meet the NRA

This week, America has been taken aback by the National Rifle Association’s ad politicizing President Obama’s daughters. With this latest episode, it’s become patently obvious that unhinged attacks are the NRA leadership’s calling card. As pundits cover the obstructionism and handwringing of high-profile NRA executives like David Keene, it’s important to take a look at lesser-known NRA leaders and understand just how far to the fringe the organization has moved in recent decades.

New investigative reporting by Frank Smyth in Mother Jones — that complements my organization’s Meet the NRA website — reveals the NRA’s eerie connection to the Newtown tragedy. Smyth discovered that the NRA nominating committee that plays a key role in deciding who is on the NRA’s board is run by Newtown resident Patricia Clark, and also includes George K. Kollitides II, the chief executive of the company that made the AR-15 used in the shooting.

Gun Appreciation Day Isn’t Shared By The Victims Of Around 370 Thousand Gun Crimes A Year

Sunday, our President, Barack Obama, gave the oath of office of President of the United States in the Oval Office, officially beginning his second term in that role, by the will of the American people.

Today, Monday the 21st of January, he gives his inaugural speech, on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But back on Saturday, when the rest of America was gearing up for this momentous occasion, the gun lobbies had a different agenda. They, instead, chose to make up a new day, which they called “Gun Appreciation Day.” A day made up by a White Supremacist Group. From the article:

A little gun math

As you know, I often mention reports from the Ohh Shoot blog, which chronicles the virtually daily instances of someone doing something accidental with a gun and the associated serious wounding or killing of one or more other individuals. These events are not part of the large number of suicides using guns that happen every year, and they are not part of the large number of shootings related to felonies carried out with the aid of a gun and they are not part of the number of times a person shoots a truly armed and dangerous intruder truly intruding the home (as opposed to a grandchild hanging out on the porch mistaken for an intruder by a trigger happy grandpa). In other words, the steady drumbeat of accidental serious wounding and killing that counts as pure gun-related accident is a small component of the overall problem of gun violence.

Nonetheless it is important.

If a plane crashed and 365 people died in the crash and it turned out that the plane crashed because there were two commercial airline pilots playing chicken, people would notice, people would get mad, people would go to prison, new laws would be passed and new rules would be made, and no one would be saying it isn’t important. No one.

Well, those ca 365 deaths that happen every year in the US because two idiots are playing chicken or because some cop left his private handgun loaded and unlocked on the night stand or because some buzzed dudes decided to practice shooting in the living room of their apartment are the same thing.

So it is important, which is a point I wanted to make here, but not the main focus of this post. Instead, I want to try something a bit fast and loose and dangerous but that might be interesting.

You know that on National Gun Appreciation Day a gazillion responsible gun owners got together to fork over their hard earned money to gun dealers and otherwise play around with their hardware. During this process, a certain number of people have taken bullets or fragments of bullets as various firearms were accidentally discharged. As of this writing, 8 people have been shot. John McKay is documenting this here.

But they all lived, and in fact, I think none of the incidents were serious enough to have made it into Ohh Shoot blog were it not for the connection to the Gun Appreciation Day events. (Even then, I’m not sure if they’ll be covered there or not).

What does this mean? Well, there may be a number, a factor, that we can multiply by the number of near deadly or deadly incidents of the type that seem to happen at a rate of about one per day, to estimate the total number of dumb-ass accidental woundings that happen every day above and beyond the more spectacular ones, when people merely get nicked and don’t bother getting medical attention, or the incident is otherwise not reported.

So far, that number could be around 8, based on John’s data. But really, are we sure that every single event happening at the Gun Appreciation Day is being reported? Maybe we should round up to 10. In any event, we should wait a few days for the dust and smoke to settle, and see what John’s final count is, and consider which cases were serious enough to have been widely reported and to make it into a blog like Ohh Shoot.

At present, it would not be entirely absurd to suggest that between 3,000 and 4,000 events occur in the US each year in which someone does something dumb with a gun, the gun goes off, and someone gets nicked. How many times does something like this happen, the gun goes off, but no one is nicked? I’ll guess ten times that. About 35,000 times a year, somebody does something dumb with a gun and it fires unexpectedly. About 3500 times someone is nicked with the bullet or shrapnel but not seriously injured. About 350 times there is a serious wounding or death. Mostly, we hear about that last category.

Don’t like my numbers, assumptions, or calculations? Fine! Provide your own in the comments.

Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Let’s spend a little time to appreciate guns. Because this is the very first Gun Appreciation Day! I’m not sure why we’ve never had a Gun Appreciation Day before, but now that we have one let’s celebrate with a review of the last month’s interesting stories about guns! Yay!

For completeness, because I’m sure Gun Appreciation Day was generated in response to the massacre of 20 six year olds and their teachers and other school personnel in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, we’ll go back to the day before that event, to something sort of local to me, and review events over the last month or so.

An old man in Rochester, Minnesota heard someone on his patio, so he grabbed his 9 mm and pumped a couple of rounds through the door. It was his granddaughter sneaking around outside. She was shot in the throat, lived, but was in serious condition for a while. Yesterday, the local officials charged him.

On December 14th, as you know, 26 people at an elementary school, mostly six or seven year olds, were executed by a guy who borrowed his mom’s guns. He killed himself.

Ryder Rozier shot himself in the head with a loaded pistol he found in the night stand. This was in Oklahoma, so it's OK, no laws were violated.
Three days later, in Columbia, South Carolina, 62-year-old Jerry Marsh killed himself while dismantling his Glock. This was done at the Shooter’s Choice gun store and range. In Guthrie Oklahoma, the very next day, Ryder Rozier, three years old, got a hold of his uncle’s handgun, loaded and unlocked in a bedroom nightstand. The little boy shot himself in the head and died. That is legal in Oklahoma, apparently. You can leave the gun around loaded and unlocked, it’s OK, so nobody did anything wrong.

On the 19th, two 20-something year olds went to a gun show in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. One of them bought a 9mm handgun, loaded it, and the gun went off. He shot himself through the hand, and shot his friend in the ass, all with one bullet! Apparently, that’s OK, no charges were filed. You can do that in Kentucky.

A few days after Christmas, Robert Furey, of North Carolina, told the cops that he shot his teenage neighbor with a high powered rifle. He had heard someone coming in the house so he started shooting. 15 year old Nick Exley was killed on the spot. Furey later changed his story to “it went off by accident when I was showing him the gun.” But don’t get the wrong impression. It isn’t necessarily the case that everyone who is a killer is also a liar! Maybe just this one guy.

On December 31st, Attorney Guy Dotson of Tennessee shot himself while cleaning his handgun. It was a through and trough. Dotson specializes in weapons related law:

Guy R. Dotson Jr. and M. Andy Brunelle have more than two decades of combined experience with a broad range of gun charge cases. From arrest to outcome, you can count on them for thorough research and investigation, and preparation of your case as if it is going to trial. We skillfully negotiate with prosecutors and persuasively present your story to a judge and jury if necessary.

I have not heard if he survived. Anybody know?

Happy New Year! On January 2, two people were killed in Vermont while appreciating guns. Louis Miller was holding his handgun when it went off. He wasn’t drunk, but may have been buzzed. Buzzed gunplay is drunk gunplay, people! Anyway, he’s dead. Also, Jacob Lehouillier of Vermont was killed by his brother while he was cleaning a shotgun. The very next day, in neighboring Massachusetts, two guys were playing “quick draw” to see which was quicker, a knife and a gun. One of them (the one with the gun) proceeded to shoot the other, who was hospitalized in serious condition. That apparently is not legal in Massachusetts, so charges were filed. The very next day, on January 4th, 8 year old Easton Brueger was killed by his daddy who was cleaning his gun when it went off. Easton did not die quickly.

On January 7th, 10 year old Aaliyah Boyer, of Pennsylvania, died. The was struck in the head by a bullet discharged for celebratory reasons. No one knows who shot the gun randomly into the air. The very next day, Al Dastmalchi, of North Carolina blasted his brother, George, thinking him to be an intruder. In an unrelated event, police had been called to the home earlier that night to deal with a domestic disturbance, at which time George was taken to the hospital to sober up, and later released. This shooting was totally legal in North Carolina so no charges will be filed. Stand your ground! Kill your drunk brother! The very next day, a four year old boy was shot by Brian Bruno, of Kansas, while playing around with a handgun. The boy was not killed. Bruno had pulled the trigger thinking the handgun to be unloaded. He is being charged. The very next day one 12 year old in Alabama killed another 12 year old boy with a 20 gauge he had gotten for Christmas.

On January 14th, Alex Shaw, of St. Petersburg, Florida, thought it would be a good idea to give his friends a gun safety lesson. He had bought the gun to protect himself after his father was shot dead by armed intruders last June, the same month Alex’s mother died of cancer. Anyway, Alex was telling his friends about how to keep the active chamber empty for safety. In demonstrating this, he put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. The chamber was not empty, Alex killed himself.

On the 15th, Antonion Brown of Illinois killed his girlfriend, Sydni Blackwell while messing around with a gun. She did not die quickly. Brown was a convicted felon and thus should not have had a gun. The very next day, in Virginia, Casper Jones, 58 was shot in the head by his 4 year old nephew, one of the many children he apparently cared for many days. He died. So much for that day care option!

On January 17th, an FBI agent was accidentally shot on the range during a training session. He’ll live. The next day, Mark Bornino and Daniel Volpone, of Ohio, were target practicing in their back yard without a backstop. Mary Kuruc, who lives about a third of a mile away, got her microwave shot. They were using an AK-47 with high capacity magazines, some other guns, had hundreds of rounds of ammo, and they were drunk.

So, I hope you enjoy the rest of Gun Appreciation Day!

All of the stories above came from a blog that you should put in your RSS reader in order to appreciate guns every day: OHH SHOOT].

UPDATE: Gun Appreciation Day itself is not just a day to appreciate guns, but also, to play with guns, and when we play with guns what do we do? We shoot each other and ourselves by accident! John McKay has a post on the current situation with Gun Appreciation Day Caused Gunshot Wounds, which he says he’ll keep updated over the next few days if more information comes in. Check it out: Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Suicide (and sometimes murder) on the Gun Range

Sometimes, a person shows up at a gun range, checks out a gun ostensibly to use in target practice on the range, but instead uses the gun to commit suicide. In one case not long ago, a woman brought her teenage son to the range, and checked out two pistols. They took turn shooting for a while, then, while he was aiming his firearm at the target, she shot him in the back of the head and then shot herself. So that was murder-suicide. Now and then a person goes to the shooting range, and while shooting end up shooting themselves dead but it is not clear if it was an accident or suicide.

A quick search of google reveals a number of cases like this reported in the news. I’ve put links to and excerpts from a handful of them below. Did you know this was a thing? Apparently it is.

2009 August

CASSELBERRY, Fla. — A central Florida woman who fatally shot her son then killed herself at a shooting range wrote in suicide notes to her boyfriend that she was trying to save her son.
“I’m so sorry,” Marie Moore wrote several times. “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.” … She signed two of the notes “Failed Queen.”

2010 October

A Weston man shot and killed himself Friday morning at the Arizona Shooting Range in Lauderdale Lakes, leaving behind a suicide note, authorities said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as a 47-year-old Weston man, but did not release his name.

The suicide occurred at about 10:45 a.m. at 4325 North State Road 7, said Veda Coleman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“He shot himself there at the gun range,” Coleman said. “He did leave behind a note.”

2010 November

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A photocopy of a magazine cover about the Columbine school shooting was found among the belongings of Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in a suicide pact at a Colorado shooting range, authorities said Friday.

However, it remained unclear why Kristin and Candice Hermeler, both 29, had the cover of Time headlined “The Monsters Next Door/What Made Them Do It?” and why the sisters made the plan to kill themselves, authorities said. One of the women survived.

2012 February

A 52-year-old Tamarac man killed himself Saturday morning at a Broward shooting range, according to a Broward’s Sheriff’s Office release. When police went to notify his wife at home, they found her dead in a possible murder-suicide.

Police report that the man rented a gun at the Arizona Shooting Range & Emporium in Lauderdale Lakes at 10:18 a.m. He then went into the target-shooting area and shot himself in the head at 10:33 a.m., according to the release.

2012 July

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR)–The owner of The Smoking Gun pistol range didn’t want to appear on TV, but he did want to set the record straight about the suicide inside his business five days ago.

It began with the sound of gunshots inside a shooting range. It’s safe to say it’s common to hear that sound there, but a shot last week still haunts the range owner. “I yelled, ‘Lieutenant!” he said. “’You have five minutes,’ but he didn’t acknowledge me.”… Second Lieutenant James Cho, an Army Reserve officer was dead. The gunshot wound to the head was later determined to be a suicide. The Smoking Gun’s owner says Cho was in a position that he’ll never forget

2012 November

KENT COUNTY, MI – As family of Mark Sobie grieve his death after a self-inflicted gunshot wound last week at a Wyoming shooting range, they question why no laws prevented him from renting a firearm.

A background check, they say, would have shown the 43-year-old’s felony bank robbery conviction, an offense that led him to serve 30 months in federal prison. The criminal record prevents him from purchasing or possessing a gun.