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“Negligent Homicide At Best”: If You Shoot First And Ask Questions Later, You Should Go To Jail

It happened yet again: a trigger-happy homeowner hears something go bump in the night, pulls the trigger of a gun, and an innocent victim dies. This time it was a mother gunning down and killing her own daughter:

A woman in St. Cloud, Florida, woke up just before midnight Tuesday and fired a shot at a person she thought had broken into her home.

But the person wasn’t an intruder; it was her 27-year-old daughter. The woman fired one round, but police didn’t say where the bullet hit the daughter. She died at a hospital. The shooting appears to be accidental, police said. An investigation is ongoing.

The only problem with that story is the use of the word “accident.” Such shootings–and they occur all too frequently in America–are never accidents. They are not tragedies. They are negligent homicides at best, and 2nd-degree murders at worst.

The number of home invasion robberies that lead to physical harm for the victim is low–particularly in the sorts of neighborhoods in which “defensive gun use” tends to take place. There is very small chance that whatever is going bump in the night actually means you and your loved ones harm.

Most of the time that bump in the night isn’t even human, and doesn’t need you to pull out your gun.

Most of the time a human is involved, there’s an innocent explanation–whether it be someone who got lost, an intoxicated person who can’t find their proper way home, a neighborhood kid playing a prank, a teenager’s romantic partner sneaking into a bedroom, etc. Twice in my life I’ve encountered a current or would-be home invader, and twice resolved it without violence because both men were under the influence of drugs and mistook my home for that of a friend or associate. I would have had every right to use a gun and fire on them, but that would have made me a reckless killer, not a responsible gun owner.

Even when there really is a criminal situation, the vast majority of the time it’s a petty thief looking to boost some electronics or jewelry to make a quick sale. They just want their next fix or meal ticket, and they’re not looking to up the ante on possible jail time by hurting you. Hurting you generally gains them nothing. Which means that common thieves can usually be scared off simply by shouting and alerting them to your presence.

There is almost never an excuse to fire a gun at an intruder without trying to talk to them and assess the situation first and at least try to scare them off. The notion that an intruder might have a gun which they might use on you first unless you have the element of surprise is essentially Hollywood fantasy. When Oskar Pistorius tried to defend himself from murder charges by suggesting he thought he was shooting behind a door at a potential burglar, the answer shouldn’t have been so much to contest his intent as to state that he’s a murderer regardless of his intent. No one should ever fire a gun in a domestic situation without having any idea what they’re firing at.

If you shoot first and ask questions later, you should go to jail. It’s not an accident. It’s a crime.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 2, 2015

January 3, 2016 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Deaths, Gun Violence | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stealth Personhood”: Colorado Antichoicers Have Gotten Craftier About Framing Their Next Ballot Text

Since there’s been more discussion of “Personhood” initiatives this year than in past years, and since Colorado’s a state where such initiatives have been voted down twice, it’s worth being aware that the Colorado antichoicers have gotten craftier about framing their next ballot text. This time around, they’re trying to amend the state’s criminal code and wrongful death law to include the “unborn” in the definition homicide. Here’s a report from TNR’s Jessica Schulberg:

The initiative has tied its campaign to the story of a 29-year-old woman named Heather Surovik. In 2012, Surovik was 8-months pregnant with her third child when a drunk driver struck her car. The unborn baby, whom she planned to call Brady—the initiative is also known as the “Brady Amendment”—did not survive the crash. The driver, Gary Sheats, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and vehicular assault. But Surovik felt that at 8 pounds and 2 ounces, Brady warranted the same protections under criminal law as a living being. She wanted Sheats charged with homicide as well.

Sympathetic as this story is, the amendment could have truly damaging consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. “Amendment 67 is extremely misleading in its language,” said Diana Hsieh, Ph.D, in a recent press release by the Coalition for Secular Government. “The proponents of the measure apparently want voters to believe that it is about protecting pregnant women from vicious criminal attacks, but the reality is that the measure would treat women as murderers for getting an abortion or even for using certain types of birth control or in vitro fertility treatments,” she added.

It’s an even bigger bait-and-switch than all those “medical regulations” that are shutting down abortion clinics around the country under the guise of protecting “women’s health.” And its prospects rely entirely on perpetuating that deception. It’s unlikely to work, but it’s still reprehensible. Colorado voters clearly don’t want to make zygotes quasi-citizens, or create a legal foundation for attacks on early-term abortions, IV fertility clinics, or contraception. Tricking them into indicating otherwise won’t exactly enhance the already thin reputation for integrity of the antichoice folk.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 14, 2014

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Personhood, Reproductive Choice, Women's Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The NRA Game Plan”: Blame Violence On Anything But Guns

The NRA will let one week go by and then they’ll issue a statement about the Elliot Rodger shootings in Santa Barbara. Actually, they’ll issue two statements which they always have ready to go. First they’ll say that the slaughter shows that the mental health system is ‘broken’ and needs to be ‘fixed.’ Then they’ll say that a ‘good guy’ with a gun would have stopped the ‘bad guy,’ and they’ll remind everyone that Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) legislation is impossible to get in California so there are no ‘good guys’ walking around in Isla Vista anyway.

The truth is that neither statement is true and or ever been true. But they sound like they’re true, which gets the NRA off the hook. They can promote gun sales all they want but also come down on the side of safety and responsibility because it’s the mental health system that needs to be fixed, right?

Last week Dr. Richard Friedman, a professor of psychiatry, explained that the link between mental illness and violence is tenuous at best and accounts for less than 5% of overall violence at worst. Which means that if every nut lost his guns, the 10,000+ gun homicides we endure each year would drop by a whole, big 500 or so. Wow — talk about ending gun violence by ‘fixing’ the mental health system. Some fix.

As for all those ‘good guys’ walking around with guns, the FBI says there are roughly 300 justifiable homicides each year, a number that hasn’t changed even with the CCW upsurge in the past year. Yeah, yeah, every year armed citizens ‘prevent’ millions of crimes just by waving their guns around in the air. I also know that Martians actually did land in Parrump.

The self-satisfied folks who really believe that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people,’ simply refuse to accept the fact that if you pick up a gun, point it at someone else and pull the trigger, that the result is going to be very serious injuries or loss of life. There is no other way, including running over someone with a car, that has such a devastating effect. The NRA gets around that problem by promoting, with an almost mystical reverence, the notion of using guns for self defense. John Lott’s nonsense to the contrary, there is absolutely no evidence which proves that guns save more lives than they destroy.

Now don’t get me wrong. If you’re already sending a comment about how Mike The Gun Guy is really Mike The Anti-Gun Guy, why don’t you save the HP comment screeners a little time and at least wait until you read this entire blog? Because believe it or not, I’m not anti-gun. I have said again and again that 99.9% of all gun owners are safe and responsible with their guns. I have also said, but it bears repeating, that we should be able to figure out how to end gun violence without making lawful and careful gun owners jump through more legal hoops, including expanded background checks.

This morning I received an email from one of the largest internet gun-sellers who is dumping new, name-brand AR-15s for under 600 bucks. These are guns that were selling for twice that much a year ago and, as the email warned, “any sudden media attention to political situations, restrictive laws and regulations can drive prices through the roof again overnight.”

The gun industry sits on the horns of a dilemma. They can moan and groan all they want about gun control but it is high-profile shootings that ignite the debate which then leads to stronger sales. The NRA claims that it’s all about safe gun ownership but let’s not make it too safe. Because if we do, it will be more than just a couple of Tea Party politicians giving away free AR-15s.


By: Mike Weisser, The Huffington Post Blog, June 2, 2014

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A National Disgrace”: Federal Health Officials Warn The Number Of Kids Getting Murdered By Guns Is Rising

The number of U.S. youth getting murdered by guns is rising, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. In the last 30 years, nearly four times as many kids were killed by guns than by other violent methods like stabbing, strangling or poisoning — and researchers noticed that proportion rose significantly during the end of the three decade time period.

Although the youth murder rate did hit a 30-year low in 2010, federal health officials are concerned about the rise in gun violence and its contribution to kids’ early mortality rates.

“We’ve demonstrated that we’ve made a lot of progress in reducing youth violence, but the study also points out that this progress is slowing and homicide is still a leading cause of death,” Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist in the CDC’s Violence Prevention and Injury Center, told Reuters. “It’s important we get these programs in place early in young people’s lives to help disrupt the development of violent attitudes and behavior in early childhood and middle childhood.”

In the past several months, particularly after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary killed 20 young students and seven adults, there has been a renewed push to protect children’s health by preventing gun violence. Thousands of Americans have gone onto be killed by guns after the Sandy Hook tragedy, including many very young children accidentally shot by firearms kept in their homes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — the nation’s largest group of pediatricians, representing over 600,000 doctors across the country — has pressured Congress to enact stricter policies to combat gun violence, pointing out that guns are the leading cause of death among minors. But the NRA isn’t particularly interested in efforts to frame gun safety as a public health issue. The powerful lobbying group actively works to discredit the AAP’s work around gun control, and has blocked scientific research into the health effects of gun violence for years.

A separate study released this week found that the youth who own firearms are far more likely to end up in the ER with assault injuries than the youth who aren’t gun owners. Treating wounds resulting from gun injuries costs Americans an estimated $5.6 billion in medical bills each year.


By: Tara Culp-Ressler, Think Progress, July 12, 2013

July 13, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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