Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen

“An Idaho sheriff said his ‘pride is fractured’,” the UPI reports. “But he is not otherwise seriously injured after accidentally shooting himself in the hand.” Well good for him! I’m genuinely happy that Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen didn’t kill himself with a negligent discharge. It sounds like it was a close run thing, though. “Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said he was outside of his Pocatello home admiring a gun he received as a gift from a cousin when he placed his hand on top of the barrel to try putting the hammer back down . . .

“Nielsen said his thumb slipped and the gun went off, discharging a bullet through the fleshy part of his hand near his little finger. The sheriff said the bullet did not hit any ligaments or tendons.” Are you ready for the punchline? “‘I can say I shot the sheriff,’ Nielsen joked.”

So Sheriff Nielsen is a Marley fan. How great is that? I can just imagine him groovin’ to Stir It Up in his squad car. Now, ready for the REAL punchline?

Sheriff Nielsen could have easily killed a bystander. How funny would that have been? “I can say I murdered a man because I failed to follow standard firearms safety rules.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. In fact, the Sheriff broke Idaho’s gun laws. Specifically . . .

It is unlawful to operate a firearm in a “careless, reckless, or negligent manner or without due caution and circumspection” when such operation results in discharge and injury to any person.

I don’t expect Nelsen to arrest himself. That would require an awfully narrow reading of the law, and hardly compares to a drunken yob waving his gun around and “accidentally” shooting someone nearby.

But I am tired of  reading about cops who can’t follow gun safety rules. And reading about negligent discharges wherein Johnny Law sits on his fat ass after an irresponsible gun owner establishes their lack of caution and circumspection. Especially when it involves Johnny Law himself. Or someone gets killed.

At the very least, The Powers That Be should consider pro forma enforcement of egregious violations of established laws against firearms negligence. Even at the extreme end, the “they’ve been punished enough” routine applied to fatal discharges doesn’t cut it with me. Responsibility requires accountability.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a gun grabber. But in the same way that judges punish bad drivers by suspending or revoking their license, and/or mandating additional training, the state, county or city should hold a gun owner who demonstrates his or her irresponsibility accountable. They should consider whether or not the gun owners can safely exercise their Second Amendment rights, or needs a constitutional time out.

Yes, you can show me this post if I ever create a negligent discharge. Which I pray to God I never do. But if I do, I can guaran-damn-tee you I won’t be laughing about it.

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    It would have been really cool if he shot the deputy.

  2. avatar Brad Kozak says:

    Not from the deputy’s point of view. And you know, with the legal precedent set by Bill “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” Clinton, I can foresee a time where local citizens might be able to successfully argue that the same (lax) standards for negligent discharge for the police should be applied to private citizens.

    Now THAT would be funny. Not.

  3. avatar Jared Forts says:

    No, he shot the sheriff but he did not shoot the deputy. He swears it was in self-defense. They say it was a capitol offense.

    I’d give the guy a high-five for his Bob Marley reference but, you know…

    Ok, ok… all joking aside… Isn’t this gun safety 101? He puts his hand over the end of the barrel to let the hammer down on a loaded gun? Seriously? This guy is the sheriff, he’s supposed to be setting an example. And on top of that, there are no real repercussions (other than having to stay away from the piano for a while). Jeez…

    Brad, you’re right. As soon as a precedent like this is set it opens the door to all sorts of trouble.

  4. avatar James says:

    What’s even more amusing is the fact that he was voted in as sheriff again soon after… I’m a local resident and I was gobsmacked that after a showing like that, the town voted him into office again… Yay Pocatello.

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