Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Aaron Sullivan

 

As one of our Armed Intelligentsia pointed out, Senator Lori Klein’s account of the incident wherein she pointed a gun at a reporter (or he jumped in front of it) misses an important safety violation. Klein said her concealed carry demo was safe because she was pointing her piece at a wall. So what was behind that wall? Always know your target and what’s behind it. A .22-caliber bullet can travel two miles before it runs out of steam (so to speak). A nine, not so far. But far enough to kill . . .

[DPW equipment operator Aaron] Sullivan told police he and three friends were passing the gun around and shooting into the lake during the time frame that Blair was shot. He said they were aiming for the water, not the tree line. Police estimated that they fired dozens of shots.

Police don’t know who fired the fatal shot, but as the owner of the weapon, Sullivan is the only one facing state charges.

Blair was visiting her uncle’s house, just beyond the lake and beyond two rows of heavy trees in the 4300 block of Pittman Road, to celebrate the holiday. Blair was shot as she danced around the lawn. She collapsed without a word about 9:15 p.m. She died at a hospital the next day.

This account [via kansascity.com] highlights several important safety points.

First, you are responsible for your gun. If you give a firearm to someone else to shoot, it’s still your responsibility. If you lend a gun to a friend, it’s still your responsibility. In some cases legally. In all cases morally.

Second, you are responsible for all your bullets. As the old expressions goes, every bullet comes with a lawyer attached. The best way not to fire a bullet in the wrong direction: establish the right direction and don’t point the muzzle in any other direction; even when safety checking or loading the weapon.

Third, bullets or bullet fragments skip or bounce off of objects. I know that seems obvious, but we’ve seen plenty of videos from our friend FPSRussia wherein the faux Slav fires powerful weapons at water and objects close-by, without eye protection.

And lastly, beware of peer pressure. Otherwise reasonable people can get caught-up in bromentum. Everyone’s having fun, so why not have fun? Because tragedies like this can happen in the blink of an eye.

Safety first, last and always.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

16 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Aaron Sullivan

  1. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    Tragic. And so very careless. It reminds me of a piece I read in the 90′s. A hunter had one single pellet from his buckshot make it through a window and into a crib-then into the baby, killing her.

  2. avatarDogman says:

    Gee. You keep this up, you’ll start agreeing with the anti-gun crowd that guns are too dangerous for mere human beings to ever touch.

  3. avatarJoe Grine says:

    This case reminds me of an incident at my house when I was a kid (early 1980s). My family was in the backyard cooking bar-be-que. We starting hearing gunshots in the distance, and then a couple of bullets started slamming into our house. My dad told everybody to hit the deck. One the next bullets hit the back door, and put a small dent in it (it was made out of some sort of metal, with glass panes on the upper half). We called the police. We eventually went to the land where the shots had originated and it turns out that somebody had been firing a pistol at a metal sign in a field – and our house was directly behind the sign. Looking a Google Earth a few minutes ago, it seems as though the distance was roughly 400 yards. My dad painted over the hole but didn’t replace the door. The dent became a good reminder for me about the importance of understanding what lies behind what you are shooting at – as it could have turned out so much worse.

    • avatarRokurota says:

      That is frightening. I hope that idiot got slapped with reckless endangerment. I’ll never look at road signs with buckshot holes in ‘em the same way.

      • avatarJoe Grine says:

        In my case, I don’t think the police caught the idiots. It happened about 30 years ago so my recollection is somewhat vague on certain details / aspects of the situation. What I do remember very clearly is being rather impressed by the fact that a bullet could pass through a metal sign, travel roughly a 1/4 mile, and then put a pretty good-sized dent in a metal door. I remember thinking that the impact would clearly still been enough to kill someone had it hit something vital (head, neck, heart, balls, etc.). I also remember my father using it as a teaching moment – he lectured me on gun safety and told me that if I ever did anything as stupid as that – then the only guns I would get would be from Toys-R-Us.

  4. avatarRokurota says:

    It is precisely incidents like these that convince the average person with no experience around guns that guns are dangerous. Funny thing is — they are! There are way too many YT videos showing yahoos havin’ a hollerin’ hoot shooting off their guns. And they are a hoot. But they are also serious business. I understand why my anti-gun friends pillory those videos. I also understand why some guys stay in their trucks parked behind a hill when some “commando” does an AR mag dump at the public range (The one frequented by the, um, citizen in the speedo). We can call ‘em toys, but they are NOT toys. On our property we have an addendum to Cooper’s rules: Know where everyone is before shooting. No fun is worth a stray bullet in a family member.

  5. avatarDogman says:

    Guns ARE dangerous. They’re meant to be. Using them safely should be the main concern of every gun owner. Not pointing it or shooting it recklessly should be understood or you shouldn’t be messing around with the damn things.

    But you have to remember that a gun is ALWAYS pointed at SOMETHING.

    And, if it’s for self protection, it’s loaded.

    When you carry it, depending on where on your body you carry it, it will be pointed at you or at someone else at times. When you put it on the bedside table, it’s pointed at something that has something behind it. When it’s locked in the portable gun safe in your car’s console, it’s pointed at something, possibly someone.

    Since even responsible people sometimes can’t really control, or even know for sure, where the gun points, they violate the first rule of gun safety. However, by being aware and following the other safe-handling rules, guns can still be made as safe as possible. But will the practice of owning and using guns ever be truly, 100% safe? No. But neither will any other activity.

    • avatarVan says:

      Excellent summation of the conundrum of gun handling. There is truly no safe place to point a gun (unless it is on target and the backstop is safe), only directions that are more safe.

  6. avatarRalph says:

    To do unintentional harm with a firearm usually requires breaking two of Jeff Cooper’s 4 Rules. Unfortunately, in this case and others like it, and in many hunting accidents, only one rule was broken, and that was enough to cause an unnecessary and tragic death. That’s why Rule #4 is such a bitch and requires more thought and planning than the other three. A shooter can follow the first three rules religiously and still cause injury or death by breaking the last.

  7. avatarJoe Grine says:

    It will be interesting to see how much jail time the guy gets. To me, cases like this are a lot like the DUI reckless homicide cases insomuch that you can incur significant crimminal sanctions without ever manifesting criminal intent to harm anybody – it’s a crime that stems from a lack of thought, as opposed to a specific evil thoughts or intentions. In Oregon, if you drive over the limit and, in the process, cause an accident that results in a fatality, you will get 10 years for every person that gets killed. I know of one guy doing thirty years because he caused a head-on collision that killed three people. Thus, a few careless/thoughtless moments can result in significant long-term change in your living arraignments.

  8. avatarfreeport56 says:

    1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
    This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.

    2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.

    3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
    Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.

    enough said.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Okay, I have a question about #3: are we assuming that home defense and carry guns should always be “ready to use”? Otherwise, that rule would be difficult to follow while still being able to respond in an emergency.

  9. avatarKarmakaze says:

    So, FPSRussia shoots at water without eye protection. Are you trying to suggest the water will bounce the bullet back towards the shooter? Really?

    Your example was of a person shooting at a lake and the bullet passing over or bouncing off the water and hitting someone on the OTHER SIDE.

    But hey, if you can squeeze in a jibe at your favourite nemesis… why not, eh?

  10. avatarSid says:

    Not overlooking the tragedy at all. Truly, I feel for the family and the loss of a precious child.

    But I adamantly oppose the proposed law. The existing law already covers the cirme. He was an idiot and his idiocacy led to the death of a child. He faces 1-7 years in prison and the felon tag for the rest of his life. Legislators may want to move up the sentencing, but the law already has a punishment for what he did.

    Addind a new law that makes discharging a gun a felony (except under certain circumstances) is a fishing license for LEO abuse of the 2A.

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