Every right has its responsibilities. Like the right itself, these responsibilities stem from no man-made law, but from the very nature of man and society. The security, progress and welfare of one group is measured finally in the security, progress and welfare of all mankind.
-- Lewis B. Schwellenbach (1894-1948), American lawyer, politician, and judge.
Headline: 17-year-old Girl Killed In Accidental Shooting at Alabama School.
How many times have you seen a similar headline?
How many? A dozen times? A hundred? A thousand times over the years?
An accidental shooting.
Gun advocates like to say guns don’t shoot people by themselves. Guns don’t point themselves. Guns don’t just go off and kill people by accident.
People kill people. It’s not the guns.
That’s what they tell us.
And yet, every single time something like this happens, it’s an “accident.” The gun accidentally fired. It was an accidental shooting.
Nobody is responsible, it was an accident.
The Associated Press tweeted out their headline: Another young person killed by another accidental shooting. And someone who follows me on Twitter responded to the AP by quoting a point from my (this) Bang Bang Crazy series:
As @Stonekettle has so aptly put it, 'There are no accidents with guns. There. Are. No. Accidents. It's a killing machine. You're responsible. Period No exceptions.
That’s a correct quote. Those who follow me here, those who were trained in firearms and combat arms by me on the range and in the classroom, have heard me say this many times. There are no accidents with guns.
There are no accidents with guns.
Guns are killing machines. When you pick one up, you and you alone are responsible for happens next. No excuses. No exceptions.
And if you don’t understand that in your bones, then you will never be allowed on my range or at my back. Ever.
There are no accidents with guns.
Of course, it didn't take long for the first ammosexual to arrive:
So when someone is cleaning their rifle but they forgot to check the chamber...it goes off and kills him...that wasn't an accident?
Because they quoted me and used my Twitter handle in the exchange, I saw the conversation in my feed. So I answered Mr. Loomis.
That’s what I said. Simple. Direct.
That’s not an accident. No.
Brad’s comment isn’t a counter argument, it’s an excuse.
There are no accidents with guns.
No matter what the training, no matter whose rules, police, military, Boy Scouts, 4-H, NRA, civilian shooting range, the very first cardinal rule of safe weapons handling is this: ALWAYS ASSUME THE GUN IS LOADED AND TREAT IT AS SUCH.
Always treat a gun as if it is loaded. All subsequent gun rules depend from this basic primary rule.
No excuses. No exceptions. You always assume the gun is loaded. Always.
And thus by extension, the corollary: Assume all weapons are loaded until you yourself have personally checked and cleared the firearm. Every single time. No exceptions.
What this means is that even if I witness you unload the weapon in front of me, I will still assume that the weapon is loaded when you hand it to me – until I personally check it clear and safe myself.
You check the weapon every single time you pick it up.
Every. Single. Goddamned. Time.
You. You personally. You’re responsible. YOU. Nobody else.
The order of the remaining rules vary depending on where you're getting your training, but they always include the following: Keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction, Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire, Keep the weapon unloaded until ready to use, Always check to ensure the weapon is in proper operating order.
"So when someone is cleaning their rifle but they forgot to check the chamber...it goes off and kills him...that wasn't an accident?"
No. It’s not an accident.
We don't have a legal term for negligent suicide or manslaughter resulting in your own death, but that's what this is.
Brad's hypothetical dead man (and not so hypothetical, since this happens with alarming frequency) died specifically because he disregarded the cardinal rules of safe gun handling.
That's not an accident.
When a child finds a gun and picks it up and kills another child with it, that's not an accident.
That's negligent homicide and should be treated as such. No, not the child who found the weapon, the person who left the gun loaded, unattended, unlocked, unsecured, and accessible to a child. It’s your gun. YOU’RE responsible. YOU. Nobody else. If you leave a gun where an unauthorized person can get ahold of it, especially a child, then you are responsible for what happens after that. And you should be tried for negligent homicide and child endangerment and sent to prison and never, ever, under any circumstances be allowed to handle firearms again.
There are no accidents with guns.
You are responsible, no exceptions.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: it is possible for a weapon to malfunction and fire inadvertently.
It is possible. Yes. No matter how careful you are, for unforeseen things to happen. Sure, your hunting dog knocks over your rifle that you leaned up against a tree while taking a piss.
You drop your loaded pistol while pulling it out of the holster to unload it.
You can throw "what abouts" at me all day. But if you follow the rules of safe gun handling, then an inadvertent discharge only sends the bullet in a safe direction. Your dog knocked over your weapon, but because you'd cleared the chamber and took the gun out of battery before setting it down, all that happened was your scope got knocked out of alignment. Because you maintain your weapon in good operating condition and keep the safeties engaged when holstered, dropping the weapon onto concrete did nothing more than scratch the finish. And so on.
Calling negligence an accident is an excuse.
It's an excuse gun nuts like Brad use to dismiss responsibility and nothing more.
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
-- John F. Kennedy
If you have any doubt about what I'm saying, when confronted with his nonsense, like all gun nuts, Brad moved the goalposts rather than accept responsibility:
Yet hammers kill more people annually...you all are a special kind of dense.
Ignoring that last bit where Brad quotes some Old West hanging judge as if he was pronouncing an execution, this a standard NRA canard. A standard response used to dismiss responsibility. Hammers kill more people than guns.
No they don’t.
This is easily proven wrong. And not just wrong, but pitifully wrong. Massively wrong. Utterly wrong. The FBI maintains data on violent deaths by cause. In 2013, for example, 8,454 Americans were murdered by firearms. Four hundred and twenty-eight were murdered by blunt objects (including hammers). You can look at statistics for other years, it’s about the same ratio. 8,454 to 428. About 20 to 1. Roughly twenty people are murdered with a gun for every person murdered by blunt force trauma.
When confronted with that fact, Brad predictably again attempted to avoid taking responsibility for his own statement, for his own obviously wrong information, for his own argument:
Yeah, late and you all jump because I misspoke. Now...if we just banned abortion in cases not involving rape, incest, or if the mothers life is in imminent danger, we would be saving way more lives than guns in total take…
The go-to trump card of the pro-gun, pro-life fanatic.
Abortion, ha HA!
He tried to shift the argument to some controversial subject, figuring everyone would jump into that screaming match and just forget all about his nonsensical statements. He helpfully included a graph showing more murders are committed with knives than "assault weapons." Your basic non sequitur logical fallacy.
This is what happens when you use NRA talking points and shallow arguments traded among gun nuts instead of actually understanding the subject in any depth.
He tried to move the goalposts.
He tried to change the subject by diverting the conversation into a kneejerk shitfight over abortion or the definition of "assault weapons" or anything but taking responsibility for his own statements, his own actions, his own ideology.
But what he’s really doing here is literally attempting to excuse willful violation of every primary rule of safe gun handling resulting in death. And he’s trying to do that by dismissing it as an "accident."
This is why gun "accidents" continue to happen.
This guy, this reasoning, this dismissal of responsibility, right here.
I would not allow this guy on my range. Ever.
I would not allow this guy to handle a firearm anywhere near me or mine. Ever.
He’s not willing to accept responsibility for his own words, how could he accept responsibility for a gun?
You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
-- Jim Rohn (1930-2009), writer, speaker, entrepreneur.
Brad was (heh heh) hammered for hours by my Twitter followers.
He tried insults.
He tried moving the goalposts.
He tried playing the martyr.
He tried playing the victim.
He tried playing the patriot.
He tried everything except for taking responsibility.
In the end, he couldn't shoot his way out of the corner he'd painted himself into and he didn't have the moral courage to admit he was wrong, and so he retreated and locked his account. That way he didn't have to face his own bullshit, he didn't have to admit his errors, and he could again avoid responsibility.
Why pick on Brad Loomis, pro-golfer, regular Joe, gun advocate?
Because Brad chose to make an example of himself.
Because Brad is a metaphor for a larger problem. Because, in thumbnail, this is the entire problem with guns in America.
This, right here, is the entire problem with the Second Amendment.
The utter failure to take responsibility.
And that, my friends, is no accident.
That’s negligence on a national scale.
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
-- Abraham Lincoln
Addendum 1: Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity
Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun. I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family. Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.