Here’s another subject we’ve covered before: the necessity of saying absolutely niente to the police after a self-defense shooting. Other than something general like “My life was in danger. I’ll give you a statement after I’ve spoken with my attorney.” Not to steal a phrase from our friends in the gun control community, that’s common sense. Unlike the situation facing our British cousins—where a jury is allowed to draw inferences from a failure to provide information to the police—anything you don’t say can’t be used against you in a court of law. But there’s another, less discussed situation where you need to keep your mouth shut: a negligent discharge (ND) . . .
TTAG has an entire series called Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day, wherein we admonish readers to take responsibility for every bullet fired from their gun or guns every time. No matter what.
However, there is a time and a place for everything. The best time for a gun owner to take responsibility for their safety and the safety of those around them: before bad shit goes down. So that it doesn’t. But life is a messy business. People make mistakes. Shit happens. When it does you need to weigh your options before you own-up—especially to the cops.
The first problem with accepting the blame for an ND immediately post-facto (without consulting an attorney): you don’t know how the Man’s going to take it. For example, you might be ready to take the heat for loosing a round whilst pointing the gun in a safe direction. After all, no one was injured. Why not put your hands up?
Because an over-zealous DA could look at a “simple” ND and decide to prosecute you for failure to maintain control of your firearm (check your state’s laws). If he or she’s successful, you will lose your Second Amendment rights. Forever. If not, you’re still going to have a $100k-ish lawyer’s bill to pay.
To protect your gun rights, to defend your ability to defend yourself with a firearm, you have to assume that the police and the DA don’t give a shit about you or your family. They play politics and you, sir, are a pawn. In fact, it’s best to assume that they’re all out to get you.
Slightly off-tangent, here’s what happens when you assume that Johnny Law is your friend for firearm safety [via wdbj7.com]:
Chris Franklin reported his rifle missing Thursday morning. He told the Bedford County dispatcher that his son had the three foot long rifle.
But this dad says he made it clear his son did not take the weapon to Staunton River High School.
According to the 911 call transcript, Franklin reported that his son should not have the weapon on him since it’s a rifle and he rides a school bus. He advised the Sheriff’s Office that he believed his son was hiding it at a friend’s house
His son Michael is allowed to use the gun for target practice at a nearby gun range. Franklin says all he was trying to do Thursday was find the rifle.
He also wanted officers to talk to his son about gun safety. But he says the sheriff’s office went overboard.
“He told me they arrested him, handcuffed him and searched him even after he told them where the gun was and they knew he didn’t have a gun,” says Franklin who later found the rifle under his son’s bed.
The high school senior plans to join the army this summer. Now Franklin worries this incident could cause problems.
Despite the fact that no gun was found inside the high school, Franklin’s son Michael has been suspended for two weeks. After that he must get the okay from the Bedford County school board to return to class.
If you want to fess up to a ND, good for you. A lawyer can negotiate a suitable admission of guilt, at the appropriate time in the appropriate manner. Knowing that it’s entirely possible that you will be the subject of a civil suit.
Yes there is that. If anyone else is involved with your ND, if the bullet hits a neighbor’s house or someone just happens to hear it (hearing loss and “mental suffering”), you may well find yourself in the legal firing line. Check this from courier-journal.com:
The lawsuit, filed this week in Jefferson Circuit Court by Fred and Sandra Tucker, claims John O’Bryan, who was living with Sandra Tucker, “improperly, carelessly and negligently stored his firearms and ammunition” in putting three semi-automatic handguns — two .25-caliber and one 9mm — behind a lip on top of the 6-foot-tall center.
The lawsuit, filed this week in Jefferson Circuit Court by Fred and Sandra Tucker, claims John O’Bryan, who was living with Sandra Tucker, “improperly, carelessly and negligently stored his firearms and ammunition” in putting three semi-automatic handguns — two .25-caliber and one 9mm — behind a lip on top of the 6-foot-tall center . . .
Louisville Metro Police said the shooting was accidental and that O’Bryan told police he didn’t know the boys knew where the guns were kept.
It seems pretty clear that O’Bryan should bear some responsibility for the horrific consequences of his storage procedures, doesn’t it? If you answer yes, would you still condemn him if he kept the guns in the safe, the boys found the key or combo, opened it, played with the guns and killed 12-year-old Darius Tucker via a negligent discharge?
In any case, protecting your family means protecting them financially as well as physically. While you must take responsibility for your firearms, it’s also true that your family must come first. So think before you speak. After you speak to a lawyer.