Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Shut Up, Lawyer Up; 2 Bad Shoots

Know before you go.
UPDATED In the past week, two different “road rage” incidents have occurred in the Las Vegas Valley. One man is dead and two have been arrested. In the first “road rage” example, after a minor traffic accident, an 18 year old man, David Rosengrant-Munoz, stole the other party’s phone and threatened him with a gun. The other party had his own gun and shot Rosengrant-Munoz who is now in the hospital and facing charges including attempted murder.

Murder requires “malice aforethought” meaning that one has had time to contemplate their action and is not acting on emotional reflect. Surely after chasing the victim down and skidding to stop behind the victim’s car (stopped at the gate to a relative’s complex) the old soon-to-be felon had time to reconsider his actions. Or at least listen to the police dispatcher who practically begged Rosengrant-Munoz to stop chasing the other driver. Turns out it wasn’t a hit and run after all.

It was after having a gun pointed at him, the phone robbery, and the chase that the other driver shot Rosengrant-Munoz. Without a doubt, the elements of a justifiable use of deadly force were met. The second shooter wasn’t so lucky or smart, but the elements for murder do not appear to exist. In short, he screwed up big time, whether the shoot was truly justified or not. He is now in jail on an “open murder” charge, which means prosecutors can choose from involuntarily manslaughter to murder.

Jim Reed Davis shot and killed Lloyd Ullyott after the latter exited his vehicle to confront Davis. The incident started with a honk and ended with a gunshot. Davis claimed that he could not see Ullyott’s hands and feared that Ullyott might have had “something” in his hands.

A “bare fear,” or an unreasonable fear not supported by facts, is not grounds for justifiable homicide. State law requires that “it must appear that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person” to kill in self-defense. Might is a possibility and killing in self-defense requires probability. Not being unable to see the “attacker’s” hands and having a non-specific fear typically does not satisfy the reasonable fear standard.

This law exists because all too often, during the Wild West days, the town bully or some other unsavory character would provoke a fight and claim that he was afraid the dead man had a concealed weapon. Self-defense acquittals were won on thin pretexts, often no more than the jury deciding if they liked the defendant or the dead man better. “I was in fear for my life” and a lie often excused all manners of murders. Blame was laid on concealed weapons, which were banned. Things did not change until courts, juries, and legislatures changed laws and practices to reject such baseless defenses.

Davis may well have been afraid, but without specific circumstances and facts to illustrate that the fear was a product of events outside Davis’ mind, the killing was not justified. For instance, an old woman shooting at a shadowy figure because shadowy figures are generally scary—not that the shadowy figure was trying to do anything other than go for his evening jog—would be unjustified as well. Just because you are afraid doesn’t mean the fear is a valid one.

The “furtive movement” defense and others like it do have merit, but an assertion like that has to be supported by eyewitness testimony and/or a solid explanation of what the suspect did to justify the fear of imminent death the killer had. For instance, in Davis’ case, he could have articulated the basis for his fear much better. A good attorney could have helped argue that, for instance, given Ullyott’s actions, his aggression, and the way that he held his hand out of sight, gave Davis the impression that Ullyott had a weapon and was intent on entering the vehicle or attacking Davis through the window.

Davis foolishly fell right into a trap the detective set for him by preying on his fear and regret immediately after the incident. From the Sun article:
“In an interview, detectives asked Davis if he had considered rolling up his window, driving around Ullyott or backing up, police said. Davis told them ‘now that he had a chance to think about it, that those would have been good ideas and he wished he had done one of those things,’ police said. According to the report, a woman in Davis’ vehicle told him to back up as Ullyott was approaching them.”
Don’t you wish you could have done something different to avoid being here tonight? Just one little thing. Any rational person would say yes. Maybe Davis should have stopped for ice cream or gone a different route home. Maybe he should have chosen to retire to a bunker in the desert twenty miles from any other person. An attorney would have told Davis not to answer the question or would have given a better answer.

With the additional information in today's LVRJ article, Davis' wife said that Ullyott never tried to get in the vehicle. Davis also may have had temper issues given completion of an anger management course after being charged with destroying property. In this case, the charges against Davis are likely justified, but again, Davis really did not help out his defense (and neither did his wife).

Now, given as Nevada is a “no duty to retreat” state, the detective’s question and Davis’ answer are potentially ill-relevant. In the first example, there would be no need to attempt to do anything to avoid a conflict and the question would be ill-relevant. NRS 200.120 does not require anyone to retreat before using deadly force (or acting in self-defense), if the person not the original aggressor, has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used, and is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used. No duty to retreat has been Nevada law since the 1870s.

However, NRS 200.200 prohibits anyone from picking a fight and then using the fight to justify homicide; if a fight that you started gets out of hand and you are now in fear for your life, you must have tried to get away, give up, or otherwise attempted to stop fighting before you can legally use deadly force. In this case, the “other options” would be relevant. The million-dollar question is, who was the aggressor? Does a honk equal starting a fight and what else might have transpired to make it one?

I doubt that any lawyer or jury would take honking as starting a fight. Even if there was stupidity back and forth, ultimately Ullyott got out of his car. No duty to retreat would apply in that case leaving the only remaining valid question being: “Was the danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary?” That would be for a jury to decide, but I’d bet Davis will take a plea bargain for voluntary manslaughter for a year or so in prison.

Davis could have done himself a huge favor and remained silent. He provided the seeds of his own destruction. A competent attorney could have helped him give a statement that did him more justice. On his own, in the psychological aftermath of a killing, Davis unwittingly provided police and prosecution huge leverage over his fate. Even if truly innocent of any crime, Davis is responsible for his arrest and his open murder charge. After an ambiguous defensive gun use, nothing good can come by talking to the police unrepresented. It’s not a shyster’s game of avoiding responsibility, it’s about getting a fair deal in the midst of an unpleasant event.

As for road rage, never get out of your car, never roll down the window, and keep your gun out of sight until it is absolutely necessary. Vegas attracts terrible drivers and every kind of jerk. Just let the bad behavior go. It’s not worth it. Mr. Ullyott would be alive today if he had stayed in his car, regardless of what Davis did. Willingly participating in a confrontation makes you partially responsible, at least in a cosmic sense, for what happens next.

Something similar happened in Reno this weekend as well. James Upton, who also happens to be a National Guard captain, shot a teen in the leg after he and a neighbor confronted the teens who were “acting suspiciously.” According to the shooter, the teen who got shot approached Upton aggressively and was making threatening gestures. Just guessing from the news article, that Upton also talked to the police while unrepresented.

Shooting someone in the leg seems to me like something one would do if they didn’t intend to kill someone. Guns are made for killing people or wounding them so seriously they cannot kill you; they’re not a good tool to keep a teenager from walking towards you. I doubt that Upton truly felt his life was threatened, but was being set upon by an obnoxious teen who was ready to fight. When all you have is a hammer, all your problems tend to look like nails. Be ready to throw down or create distance, not just shoot people.

Also, this is why it is best not to play cop. If someone gets aggressive, back off and save yourself the trouble. George Zimmerman decided to play cop, got seriously beaten, and was pilloried in the press.

The Problem

The problem here is that at least two of these men likely acted without a solid understanding of when it is acceptable to shoot someone. Using deadly force, whether you kill or not, is only to be done when you or another faces imminent death or serious injury. The question one needs to ask themselves is “Am I certain to die or be badly hurt if I don’t shoot?” before pulling the trigger. Not a possibility, but a probability. I’ve had a gun in my face and I’ve had people threaten to kill me without the means of doing so; only one of those situations would have justified shooting the guy and it wasn’t the loudmouth stomping towards me trying to look tough.

Ordinarily law abiding men and women find themselves in trouble because they lack knowledge and understanding of gun laws. Just because you can buy a gun doesn’t mean you are automatically qualified to use it. A constitutional right doesn’t come with instant common sense. Freedom of speech and a mouth doesn’t enable you to speak eloquently on any topic (especially your own defense). The same way an unrestrained tongue can lead one into all kinds of trouble (like murder charges), so can carrying a gun if you don’t know the law. Carelessness puts people in jail for many reasons.

Nevada Carry exists to help properly educate people on the law and firearm related concepts. A CCW class taken once does not help you make good decisions if you are only there to check the box for your permit. Had Upton and Davis really appreciated the law and when it is okay to shoot someone, they wouldn’t be in jail right now. Neither should have been talking to the police without an attorney either. Be smarter than you think you are.

Nevada Carry Self-Defense page

Don't talk to the police. It's for your own good.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Road Rage or Defensive Gun Use?

A man in Las Vegas was arrested for murder after what was termed a “road rage” incident. The dead man was driving poorly and the shooter honked his horn. Both vehicles stopped. The LVRJ article gives the important details about the killing: 
“The [deceased] man killed then got out of his truck and walked over to the other truck. The man inside rolled down his window and opened the door, but the other driver pushed it back closed and raised his hand as if to hit him.”
 This whole thing could have been avoided if the deceased had not gotten out of his car and let it go. There is no reason to yell at or fight someone over driving. Second, if someone approaches your car and is pissed off, don’t get out, don’t roll down your window, and don’t get pissed off back and yell at them. People with cool heads tend not to find themselves in these situations. If they want to attack you, let them break the glass. Think about what you’ll do beforehand.

Metro PIO Lt. Dan McGrath said the shooter had the option to leave, which doesn’t matter. Perhaps his phrasing was inelegant. If the shooter was the aggressor in the sense of the law, then he would have to retreat or somehow try to avoid any further violence before shooting. Declining further struggle is not synonymous with retreat, but perhaps that was the term the average member of the public could understand.

No duty to retreat (stand your ground) is part of Nevada’s justifiable homicide law
“Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being...in defense of...an occupied motor vehicle...against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter...occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.” 
The questions that do matter are: 
“If a person kills another in self-defense, it must appear that (NRS 200.200):
      1.  The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and
      2.  The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.” 
This law dates from a time when men would start trouble, whoever they were bullying would legitimately draw a gun or knife or fight back, and the troublemaker would kill the other, claiming it was self-defense. Juries would accept the defense and acquit the killer. People got sick of bullies getting off on “created” self-defense grounds, so they passed laws like NRS 200.200.  

Number two is especially relevant here. Who was the initial aggressor? Did the killer re-initiate something after things had calmed down? Does a honk make the killer into an aggressor? Questions for a jury, but the public needs more details to judge for itself. A murder charge allows the DA to offer a plea bargain down to manslaughter if the defendant can’t afford a good defense attorney or doesn’t want to take chances with the jury. Given the aspects of the law and McGrath’s verbal hints, it seems like there may have been more of a verbal exchange/escalation by the shooter than he’s letting on.

We’ll find out more details shortly. In the meantime, it’s best not to make a statement to police and to always consult an attorney after a defensive gun use.

Visit our Self-Defense page.

Do suppressors cause a loss of performance?

Saw the above video on The Firearm Blog today and I decided the how and why needed to be explained (in basic form). Do suppressors cause a loss of velocity and thus performance? Not really, at least not the ones you attach to the end of the barrel. An integral suppressor with lots of holes in the barrel or a shorter than normal barrel inside the suppressor body itself, perhaps.

Suppressors contain the expansion of gas inside a canister, keeping the hot gases inside by means of baffles, wipes, and magic. Once the gases have cooled and slowed down, they can then trickle out the muzzle quietly instead of exploding behind the bullet and creating the characteristic gunshot. Sorta like farting into a couch cushion. So the gas that propels the bullet at 12 parsecs to reach its supersonic velocity pushes and pushes normally until it reaches the suppressor, where, instead of going “bang,” it expands into the open space and puffs out, while the bullet is still tooling along.

Credit: DrNoob
In short, the full length of the barrel is used to propel the bullet as normal. It’s only until the muzzle (where you screwed the suppressor on instead of your flash hider) where things are different. So by the time the suppressor starts working, the bullet is going full speed already and the expansion of gas and consequent loss of pressure can’t affect its velocity.

Here’s an easy analogy using a garden hose. Does a sprinkler head with all its little holes cause a loss in water pressure? Nope. The water hits the jet holes with the same force as the faucet end as if the nozzle was uncapped.

Now take one of those special garden watering hoses with the holes all along the length. If the holes are of uniform size and spacing, the water pressure at the end of the hose will be less than at the beginning because it is being bled off. The last example is how an integral suppressor (one where the barrel has holes in it) bleeds off combustion gas to slow the bullet below supersonic. It can be done other ways, but we’re keeping it simple.

In conclusion, all a suppressor is doing on a rifle is catching the gasses at the end, not slowing down the bullet by robbing it of its “gas.” Since the bullet is still supersonic, that’s why subsonic ammo is recommended to further reduce the sonic signature of the gun, however, subsonic ammo develops less pressure, less velocity, and rifle performance is degraded. Not much of a problem with submachine guns or pistols where silence is often the primary concern.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Some Thoughts on Machine Pistols and Compromise Weapons

Brügger & Thomet USW
Every cop who is into guns (a lot aren’t) would probably be tickled to death to get a machine pistol of some sort and theoretically, they can. I mean, who wouldn’t? We all giggle and drool over full auto Glock conversion videos and itsy-bitsy submachine guns that look like a blast to shoot. But machine pistols are not quite practical for law enforcement or for anyone, really. For patrol officer/average gun owner purposes, these compromise class of weapons don’t lend much.

Range toys, for sure, but short of CQB combat what can you and I get out of it? Not much more than a street cop would. Civilians* and patrol cops face similar threats and situations, if the way the unfold and come up differ widely (and most people will only be in these situations when and where the world falls apart). Plus, no one seriously wants to holster a large, heavy monstrosity like a B&T USW on their hip. If danger is that likely and also likely enough to require a fight at a distance, get a rifle or don’t go there.

So what is a machine pistol? A machine pistol is a fully automatic handgun, generally intended to be fired one-handed and carried holstered. Shoulder stocks can be added, like the Mauser M1932 Schnellfeuer, the Mac-10, or on a Brügger & Thomet MP 9. The Glock 18 also has this compatibility. As the guns get larger, we cross over into submachine guns. I would define a submachine gun as a fully automatic weapon designed to be fired primarily from the shoulder and using pistol cartridges.

In the middle, we have large guns that aren’t pistols, but are too small to be your traditional submachine gun. Many have forward vertical grips. Here we have the B&T MP 9, Mac-10, Micro Uzi, MP-7, and the Škorpion vz. 61, to name a few. Now we have a cross-over problem with Personal Defense Weapons, PDWs. One of the original PDWs was the M1 carbine, designed to be a better weapon than an M1911A1 for rear-echelon troops and non-infantry combatants. None of these are great terms, so I’m going to define my own.

Machine pistol: fully automatic handgun—no stock, no foregrip
PDW: fully automatic capable—optional collapsing/folding stock, optional foregrip
Submachine gun: fully automatic capable—designed to be fired from the shoulder like a carbine
Carbine: long arm shorter than a rifle that fires a high-powered cartridge, either rifle caliber or greater than a pistol cartridge

The Glock 18 is every fanboy’s dream. Flip the switch and convert 33 rounds into noise at 1200 RPM (typical theoretical rate of fire for most semi-auto handguns). It’s actually fairly controllable too, if you can stand the ammunition waste. The Beretta 93R and the HK VP70 each had provision for three-round bursts. None are all that popular. Utility is one question and having such an efficient ammo-to-noise converter scares most people who are in charge of things like ordering ammunition. Smacking bystanders with bullets out of an out of control pistol typically isn’t well thought of by the public, politicians, and police chiefs either.

PDWs like the H&K MP-7 or the purpose-designed FN P90 are more ideal for police, but aren’t practical to wear on a belt (certainly not the P90). Some police officers, particularly motorcycle cops, carry MP-7s on their bikes in deference to a folding stock shotgun or compact AR, etc. Helicopter pilots in the Warsaw pact were known to carry the Czech Škorpions (or Stechkins, but those are true machine pistols) while police bodyguards often conceal Mini Uzis, Mac 10s, or cross-over MP-5Ks.

Police will carry submachine guns here and there, but often only on SWAT and more and more, those are being replaced by AR-15s. Even shotguns are being replaced by patrol rifles. It definitely can be said that police need an accurate bullet firing weapon. Police shotguns almost always fire slugs, but slugs don’t have quite the range or accuracy that a proper carbine or rifle will have. M1 carbines were once considered an ideal choice for police, given their less-threatening appearance among other characteristics, but much better choices are now on the market. Like the ubiquitous AR-15.

So what does this mean for the average gun owner and cop? Let’s look at practical scenarios for each.

Glock 18: Police officer gets ambushed on a traffic stop as he walks up to the car. Suspects are firing from behind the cover of their car. Short bursts of full-auto would work well here. Targets are generally confined and due to time constraints, the officer can fire approximately 2-4 times more rounds in full-auto than he can by pulling the trigger for each shot (best rate of fire for average shooter is around 300 RPM). Higher ROF means higher hit percentage, as long as the weapon is controlled. The return with automatic fire may disorient or demoralize the attackers. Same scenario (but different how’s and why’s) for a civilian.

MP-7: ATV rider gets set upon by a band of backwoods meth makers. Rider has no cover to safely escape on wheels, so he has to fight it out, but the distances are too long for a pistol shot. Stock, vertical foregrip, and red dot sight make it possible to fight back at 50-100 yards. Meanwhile, the cop shooting at bank robbers wishes he turned down the H&K experiment and had his 10.5” AR.

Submachine gun/pistol caliber carbine: Road trip when EMP/Godzilla strikes. As you are pushing your shopping cart along the highway, the couple who needs help turns out to be the vanguard of a gang of bandits. You shoot the couple and return fire with your Glock as you run for the ditch. Then you unlimber your Keltec SUB 2000 that conveniently shares mags with your Glocks. Now you can fight in the 50-100 yard range with just one type of ammo and magazine. More realistically, this is a good truck gun or for police departments that don’t want ARs or shotguns.

Neither weapon is perfect for what it needs to do, but is a compromise of some sort. An MP-7 makes a great weapon that can be holstered if need be. Pistol caliber carbines are excellent choices for civilians who don’t want to be burdened with a bunch of crap in their vehicle or want a contingency weapon if they don’t have a true rifle. Machine pistols are kind of iffy. The idea of a downed pilot holding off the enemy with bursts from his trusty wire stocked pistol and three 20 round magazines is a little more far-fetched. So I’d suppose that full-auto in these cases adds mostly confidence by having a little extra something up your sleeve.

Nothing can beat a rifle, but those are for when you know you’re expecting trouble. For cops, aside from perhaps rural deputies and highway patrolmen in very wild places, machine pistols aren’t good choices and anything other than a proper rifle is either out of place. PDW sized weapons are just compromises in virtually every case, so the gain from the compromise should better be worth it. In private hands, the pistol caliber carbine is the best choice. What are your thoughts?

*I know what you’re thinking and shut-up, I don’t care.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Shotguns Suck for Home Defense

Shotguns suck for home defense. First off, they’re loud. Permanent hearing damage can result from firing a gun indoors, especially a shotgun. If you lose your hearing after the first shot, how can you hear if an accomplice is sneaking up on you?

They’re long, even with a minimum 18” barrel, and difficult to tightly maneuver in a doorway that’s just ten inches wider than the minimum shoulder-fired shotgun. Don’t be thinking about getting a Mossberg Shockwave or pistol grip shotgun, they’re illegal (and they really do stink at home defense, seriously).

Shotguns don’t magically kill everything they’re pointed at. Across a house, you might pepper two people with the spread. Then you have to deal with over-penetration. 5.56, designed to “tumble” in flesh, does the same thing on contact with drywall. The most common self-defense load, 00 buckshot, will penetrate typical residential walls, potentially killing your spouse, children, or neighbors. #4 buckshot is also dangerous. At least it’ll put a handgun magazine’s worth of essentially medium caliber pistol bullets into your average burglar all at once.

John Wick used a pistol. You didn’t see anyone grabbing that by the barrel and pulling it away from him. Plus you can put a suppressor on a pistol and not make it five feet long. 

If you want to scare people with the racking the slide sound, just get a sound board app on your phone. Boy they'll be surprised when you Glock them in the face. 

Have you thought about an M44 Mosin Nagant with the fold-out bayonet (an SKS will also work)? One jab in the chest is all that's needed to turn that home invader into a screaming weenie, no hot dog pun intended.

Oh, but what am I going to put my flashlight on? you object. Duh, use your other hand. Plus there are a bunch of rail options out there now for everything. Or just get a strobe flashlight.

Lastly, if you didn’t pick up the facetious, exaggerated tone so far, don’t use a shotgun because President Obama shot one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Child Shootings: Locking Up Guns & Defense In Depth

Perfectly safe, unless you pull the trigger.

There is no fail-safe way to keep children from accidentally shooting themselves, but a responsible parent and gun owner can practically eliminate the threat. First, educate a child about the dangers of guns and that they are not toys. Second, teach children age-appropriate firearm safety. Third, lock your guns up when you are not actively controlling them. No method alone or combined is foolproof, but something is better than nothing. Assuming that a safety briefing alone or strong words never to touch daddy’s gun isn’t going to keep kids safe.

NSFW language warning: I’m not going to mince words in the rest of this article.

Childhood gun accidents happen because of two main reasons; loaded guns are left accessible to children and parents misjudge their children. If combined into one cause, parents failed to imagine that the worst was possible and that it was their duty to prevent it. Anyone who leaves a loaded gun where a child can get at it is negligent and irresponsible. All firearms should be kept holstered, under the direct and immediate control of an adult, or locked away when kids are in the home.

Even teenagers shouldn’t have access to a firearm unsupervised. As you will see below, even “trained” children can still kill each other with guns. There are too many unknowns to rely on a child’s training or integrity to leave a loaded gun unsecured. As you will see below, some parents did teach their kids about guns and shooting, yet tragedies happen.

No, we are not discussing the one-offs where a teen successfully uses a gun in a legitimate defensive situation. We’re talking about the bad parents here, not the decent ones, so please spare me the links and angry comments about how your child is great, blah blah blah. Make your own decisions, but do so intelligently, not blindly assuming you’re some great expert and it won’t happen to you. Relying on “trust” is a bad plan.

Frankly, most of the children who die or are injured in gun accidents have irresponsible parents that are probably too stupid or negligent to own firearms (or have children). By now, the danger of a loaded gun should be obvious, but sadly, some morons think a gun in a drawer or on the top shelf where a kid can’t see it is safe. I’d venture a guess these people have never been educated about gun safety, lack much formal education, are generally unintelligent, and are more concerned with themselves than their children. We’re talking about the people who are the reasons for warning labels on things.

Unsecured Guns

Casey Mercer of Louisiana left his gun on the sofa after cleaning his guns because he had to go to work. He did text his girlfriend to put the gun away, but while his girlfriend found it more important to put the dog outside rather than keep the gun out of children’s reach, Mercer’s toddler shot herself in the head with the pistol. Congratulations dumbass, you killed your daughter because you left a loaded gun on the couch. On the couch! What the fuck?

The negligence of leaving a loaded handgun on the couch is mind boggling. I question how anyone can be so stupid, lazy, and irresponsible. Unloaded guns left out with the ammunition put away? Missed one because you were in a hurry? Dropped out of your pants and you forgot it somehow? Understandable, if not excusable. But no, he was late for work and didn’t want to risk getting into trouble, so he took a chance and lost.

Think you can set a gun down somewhere and it will be safe? A four-year old was shot with a gun left in a purse. A grandmother’s pistol, kept under a pillow, “went off” in the middle of the night and killed her grandchild. Kids do inconceivable destructive things that take only the imagination of a child to think of. Your common sense and logic not to fiddle with guns does not apply to a kittle kid.

Amy Pittman of North Carolina and her boyfriend kept firearms all over their home. Social workers were called when her boys were seen chasing each other through the neighborhood with guns. During the investigation, unsecured firearms were found around the home. Pittman blamed her boyfriend and that she didn’t know the guns were there, including the shotgun hidden behind a refrigerator. This was the gun that her 12-year-old shot her 9-year-old in the back with. The elder boy assumed that the gun was unloaded after shaking it.

Pittman, a real winner of a human being, was charged while her boyfriend went free. Only the mom had a duty to keep her kids from shooting each other. Apparently, a boyfriend who has his girlfriend’s children in the house has no responsibility. She blamed him because she claimed she had no idea there were guns in the house. Right…surely you didn’t notice the ammo in the sock drawer. Pittman even told a social worker who offered to buy them a gun safe to buzz off. Wonder if the boyfriend visited Amy in jail?

Cause 1: Parental Irresponsibility

In the above examples, the parents could have kept their children safe. Mercer was too lazy to put his guns away or properly manage his time so he could put the guns away without being late. Or maybe if his girlfriend had worried less about having to clean up dog poop/pee she wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning up the gore of that sweet little girl. It’s better to be fired than to kill your child.

Pittman made practically every wrong decision at just about every point in her life. The possibilities are endless. If she was a better mother, perhaps her kids wouldn’t have been so unruly. Maybe if she had made better life decisions, she would have been supervising her kids or not dating a scumbag. She could have bought a safe or taken up the social worker’s offer. At the very least, she should have taught her kids not to play with guns or that you don’t shake a gun to check if it is loaded or not.

The off-body carry folks, especially the pillow grandmother, never imagined that a gun essentially under their control would become a danger. Purse carry around young children is reckless precisely because kids look through and play with everything (remember the dildo gun safety commercial?). Off-body carry is dangerous for just this reason, especially given the case of the child who shot and killed a mother in Walmart with her own purse gun. She gets half a pass as attended purse carry seems reasonable; this is why concealed carry instructors had better be damn clear off-body carry is a terrible idea around kids and idiots.

These others were likely poorly educated (about guns is all I’m willing to speculate here) and careless to the n-th degree. While mandating gun safety education and making it a felony for stupid people to own guns would be ideal, it would be as unconstitutional as prohibiting morons from sharing their verbal diarrhea in public or online. Or breeding. As it is, all you can do is try and impress gun safety across the board any way you can.

Maturity Misjudgment

Brooklyn Mohler of Henderson was shot and killed when her 14-year-old friend tried to show off her dad’s handgun that he left accessible for his daughter’s protection. The 14-year-old was trying to “disarm” the gun somehow when Brooklyn got shot. The gun owner was not charged, apparently after the DA’s office claimed no law had been violated. Someone is lying, because NRS 202.300, though complicated, does prohibit generally leaving loaded guns around.

A child 14 or older may have access to a handgun if, they have written permission from a parent for possession at their residence; however, that section (7) is negated by section (8), which prohibits a minor from handling a loaded firearm within any residence, including his or her own residence, unless, possession of the firearm is necessary for immediate self-defense. Immediate self-defense does not include the theoretical need for self-defense; the exemption is a protection to prevent prosecution of a child who uses a gun solely to defend themselves. The gun owner certainly could be charged, but it appears the decision fell under prosecutorial discretion and no one looked at the statute hard enough to challenge the call or publicly disclaim it.

14-year-old Kenzo Dix died in an incident similar to Brooklyn. A friend who was overconfident with his father’s handgun removed the magazine but didn’t clear the chamber. Instead of blaming the imbecile of a friend and his equally irresponsible father, Dix decided it was the gun’s fault. He championed loaded chamber indicators for California handguns (you know, “loaded when up”). Mr. Dix feels that many firearms are unsafe by design and “the gun industry is a threat to many American families.”

Right. A little tab poking up is going to suddenly make children of all ages realize the chamber is loaded and clear the pistol. Sort of like those warning labels on cigarettes keep kids from smoking. Someone who is so unfamiliar with firearms that they do not know to verify the chamber is empty or keep your finger off the trigger while pulling back the slide is probably not going to understand what the little thing protruding from the slide means (at least until Ruger makes a gun with an audio warning and flashing lights).

Mr. Dix can’t blame the friend (that’s too mean) and getting mad at the dad won’t solve the problem, but he can get mad at the gun industry and blame them. Why place the guilt where it belongs when you can demonize a faceless group of corporations? Like how victims of drunk drivers all blame the car industry…never mind. Instead, Mr. Dix gets to tell his sob story and get legislation passed to add yet more crap to a gun that won’t do a damn to save lives. All because it isn’t about saving lives, it’s about feelings.

Cause 2: Parental Hubris

These two died because of parental hubris; that their kid knew about guns and wasn’t going to play around with them when mom and dad are home. Sadly, this kind of attitude is all too common around gun owners. A lot of parents probably thought that. Hopefully, your kids are the rare ones who are mature and respectful enough not to go playing with guns.

But what if a friend comes over and finds it? Do you truly have a special child who is entirely trustworthy, or are you assuming that your child would never do anything like that? The last thing you want is your weekend getaway interrupted by a call from the police because the teen party broke up because Jimmy Stoner found your bedside gun and blew off his girlfriend head during some sex game in your bed.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but far too often we see clueless parents believing their children are blameless and who continue to deny reality crying “he dindu nuffin!” Don’t believe that other people’s kids go through your stuff when you aren’t around? A promising high school football star died when just that happened. Just because you are middle-class and shoot regularly doesn’t mean that you are magically exempt from instances of teenage dumbassery. 

Teens think they know everything and consequently find themselves in deep precisely because of overconfidence. Kenzo and Brooklyn died because they did not have enough maturity or discipline to leave the gun alone and overestimated their firearms proficiency. Because development of the brain is not complete, teens often act on impulse, engage in risky behavior, and act without thinking or considering the consequences of their actions. If they can access the gun, they can’t do anything reckless with it.

Education and heart-to-heart talks can only do so much. Despite modern sex-ed and easily obtainable birth control, teen girls still get pregnant, but it is much easier to put guns in a safe than it is to lock one’s boys and girls in their closets until their hormones stop raging. If you won’t trust them with booze, a computer in their bedroom, or staying out late, why are you trusting them with your guns?

Cause 3: Insufficient Training and Experience

“I’ve trained my kids about gun safety and they would never touch a gun if I wasn’t around. And if they did, then they would know how to safely use it.” Perhaps your kid is that one in a thousand who is trustworthy and had the benefit of years of range trips with you, but hope is not a plan. Not very many gun owners raise their children in a culture of gun safety and as a consequence, mistake limited experience for competence.

Both stories above say that “the gun went” off, as if the gun fired of its own accord. No, the trigger was pulled because of poor trigger discipline, failure to clear the gun, and total disregard for basic firearm safety. Failure to instill trigger discipline is a result of poor training and a lack of experience with firearms. No knowledge that leads to inaction is better than partial knowledge that leads to doing something unsafe. I would bet that the children’s experience with guns was rudimentary and focused little on safety.

Too many young people are exposed to guns the same way porn exposes them to sex; they’re stimulated, but lack command of the fundamentals to avoid getting themselves into trouble. If shooting is regarded as a rare treat, rather than a serious activity like driving practice, a teen is likely not to come away with good habits. Learning to drive isn’t a trip around the block and then driving to the DMV. Mom and Dad being lazy is not the whole reason why you had to drive them around when you were 15. Just like driving takes practice, so does firearm handling proficiency.

A 19 year old high school student (wait…) died on prom night in a Corvette his mother rented for him. Apparently, it is a tradition in that area to rent high-end cars for prom night. I doubt that these kids have access to these kinds of cars or experience driving anything with that kind of power, as this video seems to show from the teen’s and his friends’ reactions. A family friend told me of his nephew’s death here in Las Vegas many years ago in a brand-new Mustang that his mother mistakenly bought him. Despite being begged not to race the car, the teen did just that after high school one day and crashed and died. Neither of the dead boys had any prior experience with muscle cars or any respect for their power.

A teen who knows how to clear a firearm, but does not have the experience and discipline to keep his finger firmly off the trigger can fire the gun when attempting to retain it against the force of the recoil spring as he retracts the slide. Just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Spend some time on a public range or in a beginner’s class and look at all the people the RSO has to yell at to stop flagging others. Few of these shooters have the experience, the interest, or take guns as seriously, as we do and as a result treat guns as more of a lark. This embarrassing habit goes away when safety is eventually beaten into their head.

Had many of these “knowledgeable” teens kept the gun pointed away from themselves or friends, when their finger slipped and hit the trigger the gun would have fired in a safer direction, hurting no one. Sadly, no one instilled them with that rule.


There is no perfect solution for careless parents and gun owners. We can’t make people be smarter. We can’t make them stop and consider if putting a gun on the top shelf is really making it safe. We can’t force parents to critically appraise their own training skills. We can’t force parents to admit their kids aren’t as smart and perfect as they want them to be. We can’t make people care more about their children than themselves. We can’t make everyone as adept as we are.

Defense in depth is the way to go. Teach young kids to stay the hell away from guns. Allow the older ones to learn respect for firearms and to develop good gun habits. Lastly, keep them locked away whenever possible to reduce the chances of a random variable happening to you. Each one of these steps can prevent one specific mechanism of gun accident, but only by securing guns can anything but deliberate action be avoided.

All we can do is teach and warn. As long as dangerous things exist, children will die in accidents that could have been prevented by better parenting. By following these simple suggestions, we can help reduce accidental firearm deaths. Remember, no one is exempt from shit happens.

Don’t Touch, Run Away

An instructor friend of mine says “Do you remember the last time you hear of a kid catching on fire? Of course not. We teach fire safety and ‘stop, drop, and roll’ is ingrained.” Imagine how much safer everyone would be if the danger of guns was taught in schools (in an age-appropriate manner) every year. In a fair number of cases, had the victim simply got up and left when the gunplay started, they would be alive today.

The innocent victims of these tragedies could have prevented their own deaths or injuries by simply removing themselves from danger. One of the firearm safety rules taught to children is to run away from a gun. The NRA says, “This removes the temptation to touch the firearm as well as the danger that another person may negligently cause it to fire.” It’s a rule better suited to little kids, but even teenagers can benefit.

Running away may not be “cool” to a teenager, but getting away from a friend playing with mom’s or dad’s gun is a very good way to not be in the line of fire when Johnny Jackass pulls the trigger. Even Kenzo and Brooklyn might have lived if they noped it out of their friend’s house. The ideal child of a gun owner would have the maturity to not worry about losing face with his friends. Reality is different. Peer pressure and the desire to look cool or not appear frightened causes kids to make poor decisions, even if they know better.

It’s not just at home, either. There is a startling number of stories of guns being found in parks and abandoned houses where children are injured and killed when they start playing with the guns. Run away, tell an adult!

The problem is that firearm safety training for children is rare and depends almost entirely on the parents seeking out or giving that education to their kids. Gun safety is not taught in school. My police station had boxes of unused NRA Eddie Eagle material (but free locks flew out the door, thankfully). It is a shame that the taboo on guns has gone so far that anti-gun leftists have made it impossible to teach children to avoid these dangerous situations. So, parents, the responsibility is yours.

Respect and Fear the Gun

No sure-fire solutions exist to safeguard one’s children at all times, but the best thing a responsible parent and gun owner can do is teach respect for firearms from an early age. I know one couple that taught their son to keep his toy guns holstered and always keep his finger off the trigger. When he becomes a teen, he will likely have both the respect and discipline to avoid gun accidents, but such training is rare. This is behavior that must be reinforced. It is not something learned in an afternoon on the gun range.

If you understand the dangers and consequences of firearms, you are much less likely to kill or injure yourself or someone else. There is a reason why reputable firearm instructors don’t put guns, unloaded or otherwise, to the heads of their trainees or anyone else. Yet a teenage woman killed her boyfriend after shooting a gun at him for a YouTube video, assuming a phone book would stop a .50 caliber handgun round. Phone books are concealment, not cover. She neglected a fundamental rule of gun safety; “never point a gun at anything you are not willing to shoot” (like your boyfriend).

That death was partially ignorance for not understanding the power of the .50 Action Express cartridge and partially a total lack of respect for the danger of shooting at a human being. Don’t let your kids win the Darwin Award. Had those two poor lovers righteously feared the power of guns, no one would even know they existed, aside from the viewers of their bad channel. You don’t let someone shoot you unless you are a cast member of “Jackass” or you are selling bulletproof vests.

Children and teens with limited exposure to firearms do not respect the danger of guns. Far too many adults are guilty of the same, like this mom who found a gun and pulled the trigger to see if it was loaded. In Korea, range accidents (among suicides) are rampant because of no exposure to guns among the population, leading to measures like RSOs wearing vests and chaining guns up during firing (read the comments on the link). Many of the employees at tourist ranges here in Nevada can tell you many similar stories about customers who have no idea how one fumble of the trigger with the muzzle in the wrong direction can be disastrous.

A healthy fear of anything dangerous is necessary to stay alive. Responsible gun owners jump all over YouTubers for not clearing a gun on camera or gun store clerks for muzzling customers with a gun that is 99.9% probably empty. That is because we understand the danger and know “better safe than sorry.” The first rule of gun safety is to treat every firearm as if it were loaded. If that one rule were always obeyed, gun accidents would decline dramatically. It isn’t paranoia.

Lock Them Up!

It’s all fun and games to blame people for leaving their car unlocked or values in sight when their stuff gets stolen, but it sure sucks when it happens to you, right? Just that one time can turn into a stolen phone and a broken window. Still better than a child’s life because an accidental shooting couldn’t happen to you.

Training all children isn’t realistic. Plenty of parents talk about their incorrigible kids who never listen and always get into trouble. Just because you teach a child something doesn’t necessarily mean they will understand or obey. It isn’t going to work because you can’t train the neighbors’ kids or the friends that get invited over to your house. Your perfect child might not mess with the gun under your mattress, but that no-good friend of theirs will and isn’t smart enough to avoid sending a bullet into your precious little angel.

The best precaution is to lock away the guns. If they can’t get at it, they can’t hurt themselves. Yes, gun safes of all sorts can be picked, combinations guessed, and keys found, but defeating a determined attempt to get a gun isn’t the point. It is to remove as much temptation as possible, to make things difficult, and to keep guns from falling into the hands of young children. Amy Pittman’s children could have been alive if they were taught to respect guns, true, but they certainly would be alive if her boyfriend had put the guns in a safe too.

When it comes to self-defense, you take every reasonable precaution, right? You use hollow points, you keep your gun clean, you carry extra mags, you have night sights, a light, you train regularly in practical situations, you practice drawing, and you mentally rehearse scenarios. But why don’t you take all the reasonable precautions to avoid an accident? Lock your guns up, please. No matter how smart you think you are and how well-behaved your kids are, shit happens. Don’t be that guy who makes us look bad and who is responsible for the death of a child.

Should parents be prosecuted?

Prosecution for parental negligence after child shootings is rare and inconsistent. Laws vary from state to state. Many feel that it is wrong to punish someone after losing their child and it accomplishes nothing. They get quite hot under the collar when you suggest something so “inhumane.” I wonder how many of those don’t lock up their guns properly and they imagine themselves in hot water. But does it do any good to punish parents after the “ultimate” punishment of losing a child?

Fuck sympathy and not adding insult to injury—this isn’t a traffic collision. Put the responsible party away for a year, no more, no less, so they can think about what they did and never own a gun again. If you let a child get shot for leaving out a gun, you have forfeited your right to own one ever again. I’m guessing this winner doesn’t have much in the way of remorse and so punishment is right up his alley.

Make them remember what happened and why they are in jail so they can reconsider the poor decisions leading up to this point. If they were too stupid or too selfish to think about the safety of their children, then give them a time out to think now. Let them be tortured and haunted by the horror and learn their lesson. Perhaps they will emerge as better, more considerate members of society.

Prosecute and incarcerate as a warning to others; not so much as to instill a fear of jail (one should fear a dead child more), but for publicity. Maybe someone will see the story on the news and secure their gun. The average public is far more likely to see and respond to a tragic accident than they would to a proactive offer of gun safety training or supplies. The prospect of grieving alone in prison is not one that any parent would want.

Do what you can to save a life.