Accidental shootings mark “Gun Appreciation Day”
I’m not a part of the gun tribe – I just didn’t grow up in that culture. No one in my family hunts, so I didn’t fire a real gun until I was probably 11 or 12 years old and away at YMCA summer camp. And, to be honest, I found shooting .22 rifles at paper targets was less interesting than archery and canoeing and karate. When I became a camp counselor, I helped out at the rifle range, but only when I wasn’t busy lifeguarding or brushing down the horses. But I did pick up a lot of gun safety lessons, along with more than my fair share of casings.
Over the subsequent years, I’ve gone shooting with friends and co-workers on numerous occasions. Every time, we started with a basic lesson about gun safety. And every time, it began the same way.
The first rule of gun safety is: always assume the gun is loaded. Even if you just pulled the magazine. Even if you just fired it. Even if you’re absolutely sure that it’s unloaded. That’s all I could think of when I saw the news yesterday.
“5 accidentally shot at gun shows in North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana”
- 3 people injured after a shotgun accidentally discharged at a gun show in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- An exhibitor at a gun show in Medina, Ohio*, accidentally shot his partner when opening a box containing a handgun.
- A man in Indianapolis accidentally shot himself when he was reloading his gun after leaving the Indy 1500 Gun & Knife Show.
Oh, and those weren’t the only accidental shootings on “Gun Appreciation Day” (h/t to @KagroX for posting these on Twitter):
- In Atlanta, a 14-year-old accidentally shot his 15-year-old brother in the face, killing him.
- In southern New Jersey, a father accidentally shot his son in the face while hunting.
- In Port Edwards, Wisconsin, a man accidentally shot his son in the back at a shooting range while trying to clear a misfired weapon.
- Just outside Colorado Springs, two people were injured at a shooting range when a handgun discharged while a woman was loading it.
UPDATE (Jan 21): I missed one:
- A seven-year old in Tallahassee accidentally shot his 5-year-old brother in the stomach while playing with a gun. A 22-year old has been arrested and charged with Child Neglect Causing Great Bodily Harm.
Gun Appreciation Day was dreamed up and promoted by Political Media, a Republican consulting firm led by Dick Morris protégé Larry Ward. Here’s a taste of the Gun Appreciation Day website:
Obama, Feinstein and the rest gun grabbing, opportuniists [sic] are dead set on passing Gun Control Legislation this Month.
This is the ‘line in the sand’ moment for those of us that love the Constitution. Americans need to make a powerful statement that will put the fear of God in our politicians that are thinking about infringing upon our Second Amendment Rights.
Ward made waves earlier this week when he claimed on CNN that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with him that guns could have prevented slavery:
…if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.
Ward is also tied to the Conservative Majority Fund PAC, a group that promotes “birther” conspiracies.
It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that the arms-dealer lobbyists have convinced people that they should brandish loaded weapons on a regular basis. It’s not consistent with responsible gun ownership. It’s not consistent with basic gun safety. It’s not consistent with common sense.
The Indy 1500 Gun and Knife show, like most gun shows, does not allow loaded weapons inside. Their rules for exhibitors clearly say (PDF):
There will be no ammunition (live, spent, blank, decorator, or any thing that could be construed as ammunition) placed in any clip, magazine, cylinder, chamber, or barrel.
Personal guns must be unloaded outside of the building and tied prior to entering.
That makes sense. But we refuse to apply that lesson to the world outside of gun shows.
Frankly, I’m still unconvinced that reinstating the assault-weapon ban is a good idea. (My church, on the other hand, is a long-time proponent of the ban.) But the other basic gun-safety measures like background checks and increased safety awareness proposed by Obama and Biden are simply commonsense solutions that in no way interfere with the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans.
Unfortunately, any conversation involving guns is even more susceptible to being hijacked by the conspiracy-theory mania that marks so much of our political discourse. When the NRA even opposes voluntary gun buyback programs, there’s really no room for sane argument.
* Earlier this week, two men were arrested for drunkenly shooting an AK–47 just outside Medina, Ohio. The bullets from their target practice hit at least 2 nearby houses. I remembered that because we frequently stop near Medina to eat on our annual road trip to New Hampshire.
- “How Walmart Helped Make the Newtown Shooter’s AR–15 the Most Popular Assault Weapon in America”, George Zornick, The Nation, 12/19/2012
For four months last summer, Reverend Brown’s prayer group, nicknamed the God Squad, walked around town sticking three strips of tape (symbolizing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) with anti-violence messages onto telephone poles. The group was “praying that we could cease the violence, cease the drama. And it worked in some areas,” Brown said. “But I’m going to be honest with you: we’re at an all-time high.”
So when he saw the weapons for sale at Walmart, Brown took action. He called the chief of police and members of the City Council, who in turn applied pressure on local Walmart managers. In response, the chain promised the city in writing, in June, that it would no longer sell assault weapons in South Bend.
It’s time we saw it for the paranoid delusion it is, and stop giving craziness the legitimacy of the Second Amendment. The gun debate shouldn’t be about whether we need armed guards in every school, movie theater, and place of worship. I shouldn’t be about hunting rifles or weapons for home or personal defense. Take the Red Dawn fantasy out of the equation, and we’ll have no problem coming up with a sensible gun policy in America. But as long as it persists, and as long as we let a delusional minority dictate the terms of the debate, we’re accepting more mass shootings as the price we have to pay.
[…] I wrote the first draft of this post, I noticed blog posts listing many of the accidental shootings that occurred on “Gun Appreciation Day” and again I […]
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