“Just after 9 p.m. Friday, police received a 911 call that a 5-year-old girl had been shot in the head in Jeffersonville [IN],” wave3.com reports. “Detective Todd Hollis said three children were playing inside. While the adults were outside, he said, a .22 caliber revolver went off.” It went off? Just like that? All on its own? Don’t you hate it when that happens? When the media refuses to say that somebody shot themselves or someone else, in case that wouldn’t be considered an accident?
According to the girls’ guardian, LaTanya Taylor, the gun belonged to her boyfriend. ‘I heard the pow and I ran upstairs and I saw my baby just laying there, sitting there on her knees, crying with blood gushing out . . . I’m amazed that she’s doing fine. I could be going to the funeral right now or I could have been in jail right now all because of something that I should have did at first.
Yes, well, there is that. I spent a fair part of this morning looking for Indiana’s law re: negligent discharge. Nada. I’m sure there’s one in there, somewhere. If not, Ms. Taylor still faces child endangerment charges. As well she should. But wait!
Detective Hollis said, with the information they have so far, the shooting appears to be an accident. No charges have been filed.
Define accident. Or is there a separate category for “accidents waiting to happen”? A boyfriend gives you a gun for home protection, you have multiple children in the house unsupervised, and you leave the weapon where? This version of the story doesn’t say. wlkycom‘s does:
Taylor said the gun was in a box in her bedroom in a nightstand where the children should not have been able to see it.
She said she picked up the box to put it on the bed next to her earlier, but got distracted and forgot to put it away before leaving the room.
She forgot to put the gun away in a box in a nightstand drawer. ‘Cause that’s safe right? Did having a child in her care shoot another child in her care in the head with a .22 educate her about gun safety? Apparently not. Back to wave3.com:
Taylor admitted she should have put the gun out of reach. “I should have put it up. I started leaving it around the house. I should have put it up in a safer place,” Taylor said.
Safer like a safe? OK, so now I want to rant a bit about filing charges against people who are responsible for negligent discharges. I’m all for it.
I’m not saying that after-the-fact fines and/or imprisonment will help reduce negligent discharges because someone will think, “I better put this gun away ’cause I might go to jail or lose my house.” Stupid doesn’t think ahead, and you can’t fix stupid. But it’s worth a try. As the gun control people like to say, if arresting people for negligent discharges saves ONE LIFE, it’s worth it.
The reason charges aren’t filed—especially against police—is that the general public believe that the person responsible has “suffered enough.” The consequences are sufficient punishment. Yes and no.
On one hand, yes. On the other hand, society needs to send a consistent message to gun owners that they have a legal obligation to exercise due care and attention in the storage and operation of their weapons. Hence the existence of laws to that effect. And if we have the laws, why wouldn’t we enforce them?
The same people who are all for zero tolerance when it comes to criminals are ready, willing and able to give gun owners a free pass when an “accident” occurs. Quite simply, why have the laws if you’re not going to enforce them? And if you don’t enforce them, what effect does that have on respect for other gun laws?
Actions—and inactions—have consequences. When it comes to firearms, the results can be tragic. Surely society should let it be known that we will not allow irresponsible guns owners to remain gun owners. How better to send that message than by enforcing the laws designed to serve that purpose?