Should people be charged if their gun is used in a crime?

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Yes, just as if their car is used in a crime.

Obviously if someone breaks into your house, breaks open your gun safe, takes your gun, goes down the street and robs a bank with it, that is not your fault.

But if you leave a loaded gun laying around unsecured, and a four year old grabs it and shoots a five year old dead, you, the gun owner, have just committed homicide.

Almost everything else is in between, and yes, there is a line there, or more than one, that has to be found. But we are a civil society and we can deal with the difficulties of drawing that line. And, anyone who is uncomfortable with there being such a law can easily address their anxiety. Just live in a gun free home.

I bring this up because the Washington Post has a new piece by John Cox and Steven Rich addressing this issue. Here.

And, right, if your car is locked up and in your garage and the key is with you in the house, and someone breaks into your garage, hot wires your car, drives down the street and uses the car in the commission of a crime, that is not on you. If, on the other hand, you leave your car unlocked and running on the street and somebody jumps in it and takes off and commits a crime with the car, that is at least partly on you. And somewhere in between lies this line, see?

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24 thoughts on “Should people be charged if their gun is used in a crime?

  1. Yes, important to teach my grade school kids gun safety.
    Aim carefully. Hold gun steady.
    I don’t let them use an AR15 without supervision.

    1. Why take the piss on this issue?

      Do you disagree with the argument that negligent gun security resulting in a crime or accidental shooting should render the gun owner liable to prosecution?

      If so, why?

      If you agree, why take the piss?

  2. In Minnesota there is a law already on the books:

    It is a gross misdemeanor to intentionally or recklessly cause a child under the age of 14 to be placed in a situation likely to substantially harm the child’s physical health or cause the child’s death as a result of the child’s access to a loaded
    firearm. It is also a gross misdemeanor to negligently store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows or should know that a child under the age of 18 is
    likely to gain access, unless reasonable steps are taken to secure the firearm against access by the child.
    Minn. Stat. §§ 609.378, subd. 1; 609.666

    1. Yes, owing to efforts of liberals, we have some good laws in Minnesota,but the Republicans are constantly mucking them up in the other direction.

    2. Yep – I am sure only liberals are for protecting children. No conservative would ever have voted for this law.

    3. “No conservative would ever have voted for this law.”

      Forty years ago that would clearly be a foolish statement. With the Trump era of conservatives its validity isn’t so easily dismissed.

  3. So MikeN appears to be exposing his children to the toxic heavy metal lead. Of course, a liberal might consider that to be child abuse, but in the gun love community, it is normal behavior. Perhaps he should read this article.

    ” In February 2002, EPHP tested BLLs for all seven members of the shooting team, who were aged 15–17 years. The mean BLL was 24.3 µg/dL (range: 21.0–31.0 µg/dL).” “Low levels of lead exposure can adversely affect the intellectual development of young children (1). Even BLLs <5 µg/dL can have deleterious effects on intelligence quotients for persons aged 6–16 years".

    The technology for testing for lead and its effects on the brain have greatly improved over the last few decades. Unfortunately, traditions of how to handle things like guns, gun residue, and gun fumes seem to have been set in the days when lead and its effects were far more difficult to detect, so people are handling this brain cell killing chemical as if it were no more harmful than cotton candy. This may, in fact, explain why conservatives are acting dumber and dumber over time. Sarah Palin loves to shoot, for example. I think her whole family does. And look at their collective behavior. Ted Nugent is another example of someone who shoots a lot. Didn't effect him much did it now. Also, it is clear that most gun murders are committed by people with elevated blood lead levels known as shooters. Since most shooters practice shooting their gun, and shooting guns elevates blood lead levels, it would be difficult to prove that gun killers don't have elevated blood lead levels. Simple as that.

    Anyway, anyone with a background in toxicology or environmental science would be pretty unlikely to let their kids be exposed to shooting guns. Similarly, an audiologist probably wouldn't do it either. I suspect too that a lot of psychologists would frown on the idea of idealizing a device that allows people to turn other people into piles of dead meat. But hey, conservatives, it is a free country and by God, maybe some day you will grow up and join us in the 21st century.

  4. So yeah. If your gun is stolen and you should be prosecuted for any negligent acts that you committed that allowed your gun to be stolen. And, any crimes subsequently committed with your gun should be partly on you . The original gun owner should have to prove that they met a resonable standard for keeping their weapons secured if they want to avoid prosecution. Similarly, gun shop and gun show owners who facilitate the transfer of guns to criminals should be prosecuted, no question. And why aren’t they now??

    Unfortunately, the lead heads have a great deal of political control these days, and they are helping to push us to a world where life is ever cheaper and security ever more elusive.

    1. “The original gun owner should have to prove that they met a resonable standard for keeping their weapons secured if they want to avoid prosecution”

      In a fascistic country, yes.

    2. I must say I sorta agree with the commenter named liberal.
      In the Australian system, accused don’t have to prove a bloody thing. Zero onus. There’s excellent , exceedingly well considered reasons for this.
      It could just be a matter of how you have worded the passage quoted by liberal, Steve P.

    3. In a fascistic country, yes.

      What utter rubbish. Guns are dangerous therefore when not in use they should be kept in a secure, locked cabinet specifically designed for weapons storage. Ammunition should be stored separately. This *is the law in the UK and last I checked the fascists were still a minority. A growing minority, but a minority all the same. We remain – just about – a parliamentary democracy, despite the best efforts of Arron fucking Banks and his chums to undermine it.

    4. BBD. There is a miscommunication apparent.
      I agree strongly with your entire post ( especially about toerag Banks )except
      your initial disagreement with the commenter liberal.
      I believe commenter Steve P phrased something really badly.
      I damn well fucking know I don’t want to live in a system where an accused MUST provide proof of anything.
      Yes a gun owner needs a gun safe and other things to satisfy licence requirements. No question from me about that. Regularly inspected too.
      But if a gun is stolen somehow, and the gunowner charged with something, the onus is not and cannot be on the accused to provide evidence.

      It’s a miscommunication is all.

  5. LiD,
    So you too can see that we have a potential big problem here. By the time the worker got to a doctor, his symptoms and his poisoning were so intense that they could not be ignored. So what about all the people who are suffering from lower levels of lead poisoning, from “mild” brain damage, but who are not detected? What is a safe level of lead exposure, anyway? All individuals vary genetically, even among non-twin siblings from the same parents. Everyone’s response to lead poisoning will be somewhat different, based on things like the routes of their exposure, their diet, their general health, and their genetics.

    I contend that it is reasonable to suspect that all shooters have some level of lead contamination, from trace to massive, and that the effects of this contamination will be somewhat variable, and that a certain number of the crazed shooters we see each year were brought over the edge of impulsive stupidity by lead poisoning.

    But, you know, it is only early in the 21st century, people are, in general, quite stupid, and the gun lobby holds most of the good cards in the American form of this game. And, therefore, I expect a grim future for the US unless or until the younger generations can get hold of the reins of power.

    1. “But, you know, it is only early in the 21st century, people are, in general, quite stupid,…”
      From the little I have read, it has been theorised elevated lead levels can lead to making ” bad ” decisions. Some type of correlation has been made, a little bizarrely imo, with violent crime.
      Why this violent crime thing was chosen as a proxy for bad decision making, I don’t know. Why not white collar crime?
      Why not entering into insane financial contacts with high rates of interest?
      Why not having a 4WD in an urban area?
      Why not vaccination rates?
      Why not std rates where there is plenty of easily accessible prevention for a chosen std?
      Why not rate of people who don’t understand fireworks?
      People who don’t wear seatbelts?
      People who scuba dive in fucking caves when they could be reading a book.
      People who , after analysis of evidence, conclude AGW is a Chinese hoax.
      I’m saying this because the chosen proxy of violent crime seems a little to pat. Like it’s cherry picked out of many other potential proxies.
      I’m not denying the data. Just cautious as to conclusions.
      I like consilience.

    2. “I contend that it is reasonable to suspect that all shooters have some level of lead contamination, from trace to massive, and that the effects of this contamination will be somewhat variable, and that a certain number of the crazed shooters we see each year were brought over the edge of impulsive stupidity by lead poisoning.”


  6. “And, anyone who is uncomfortable with there being such a law can easily address their anxiety.”

    Apply that to speech. Not sure if some opinion is legal? Just don’t express one.

  7. So how easy or hard to break into my house do I have to make it before I’m not partially guilty? Breaking into my house or any house without being surrounded by a full metal cage is so easy that locks are nothing more than a symbol and not a deterrent!
    And who is more guilty? Me cause someone ‘broke into’ my unlocked house to steal a gun, or walmart, as they gave the gun to the killer for a few bucks???

  8. OK. Let’s talk about scientific studies that back up my contention that shooters all have some level of lead contamination, shall we?

    “Nearly all BLL measurements [Blood Lead Level of shooters] compiled in the reviewed studies exceed the current reference level of 5 ?g/dL recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH). Thus firing ranges, regardless of type and user classification, currently constitute a significant and unmanaged public health problem. Prevention includes clothing changed after shooting, behavioural modifications such as banning of smoking and eating at firing ranges, improved ventilation systems and oversight of indoor ranges, and development of airflow systems at outdoor ranges. Eliminating lead dust risk at firing ranges requires primary prevention and using lead-free primers and lead-free bullets.”

    It is not simply conjecture, BillyR. It is actually fact. You can’t inhale the smoke, fumes, dust etc. from shooting and not get contaminated. You can’t eat a sandwich with your shooting hands without ingesting a little bit of that oh so heavy lead. That sweet smell of gunsmoke we all love so much? It is actually the smell of your brain dying. The more you shoot, the more you ingest. Does Ted Nugent exhibit the behavior of an intelligent, civilized man? He was a championship skeet shooter. And now, he acts like a deranged idiot, periodically threatening people and getting visited by the Secret Service. And eating machine gun bacon is particularly stupid. Really, really stupid. But it does explain the deteriorating behavior and increasingly unintelligent actions of Senator Ted Cruz. I bet Sarah Palin loves her some machine gun bacon!

    Russia loves it when Americans shoot more and more and more! Eh BillyR?

    1. ” Ted Cruz ” Now there’s a stupid fucking idiot. He got more than potential lead issues that bloke.

  9. LiD, Feeling the need for a gun, for most people, is a little bit dim witted to start with, but I admit that there are times and places where they are needed or necessary. My contention is that, all “legal” arguments aside for a moment, the use of leaded fire arms by the general public as “recreation” is bloody stupid. And it is locked into the DNA of the USA …. in more ways than one. So we here in the USA have a serious and nearly intractable problem. The rate of gun ownership is swelling, meaning more and more people are getting contaminated with lead, and nobody is checking their own level of contamination, and besides, the Republicans have actually tried and in some cases succeeding in banning public health studies on gun effects. The more guns in the hands of untrained and often criminal gun owners there are, the more gun deaths there are, almost like some inviolable law of physics. And the more guns there are, the more trigger happy the cops feel they need to be to survive. And inevitably, everybody feels that they need to have a gun. Finally, you reach the stage where everyday life requires an undue amount of time spent on gun management, and fear management, and security management, until the quality of life is severely degraded for everbody except stupid and sociopathic people. All because stupid people started a civilian arms race.

    1. Wow. This post above by Steve P could be read in a pretty dry cool manner.
      But I don’t see it like that.
      It’s an very impressive passionate heartfelt plea for a break in the cycle.
      Nice writing.

  10. And another thing. The guy who shot the Houston Doctor on a bicycle was a constable for 30 years and a big gun lover. I’ve love to know what his blood lead level is. Or was. He may have offed himself in some dark corner of the world when the ramifications of his stupid action finally hit home.

    Humans do not appear to have a good built in lead de-toxicification mechanism. And lead is very toxic to humans. Thus, messing around with guns is a really really questionable activity for an intelligent person.

  11. Here we are, less than four weeks from the last post, and another gun lover went berserk and shot a bunch of people. The shooter had mental health issues, but,somehow, they were not severe enough to keep him from purchasing two fire arms. His father, an engineer, disputed that his son was psychotic. I’m not sure what you call it when your sons values are so upside down and inside out that losing a video game tournament requires you to shoot people with a gun. Despite having had the police called on him numerous times in the past for violent or disruptive behavior, he was still able to buy two guns. Now a dozen families have had their lives bashed in because of his love for guns.

    I’d love to know what his blood lead level was. Like the monster who shot up Sandy Hook, this guy was a mentally challenged individual with very obvious behavioral and social interaction issues, and he obviously had over exposure to lead fumes and lead residue just by virtue of being a gun lover. And yet, collectively, we let him have guns.

    IMO, his father has some culpability. As do the gun sellers, the gun makers, the ammo sellers, the ammo makers, the NRA, our mental health system, and our culture of violence in general. However, any attempt to work to resolve this problem will be thwarted time and time again by the people who get high sniffing leaded gun smoke fumes. I wonder what their blood lead levels are?

    This is one case where it is easy to surmise that someone used a gun to try to put a bandaid on his wounded ego. Of all the stupid uses for guns, that has got to be one of the stupidest, and yet how many gun lovers have guns just for that reason?

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