Michele Wanko (courtesy delcotimes.com)

Readers familiar with the British colloquial speech will already be snickering at the late Mr. Wanko’s surname. The more educated amongst them will be familiar with the Mandy Rice-Davis derived expression, “well he would say that wouldn’t he?” Which seems entirely appropriate here. “Parkside police Chief John Egan says officers responded to [the Wankos] home around 4 a.m. Saturday and found 43-year-old William Wanko with a gunshot wound to his chest. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Egan says Wanko’s 42-year-old wife, Michele [above] said . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .

they’d been drinking lemonade and vodka for hours when she said she wanted to learn how to use a weapon in case someone tried to break in while he was away. Police say William Wanko was getting another gun out when his wife picked up a pistol and pulled the slide back, but the gun went off.

Right. Michele Wanko pulled the slide back “but” the gun “went off.” Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

Michele Wanko, who made the 911 call, also told police her wounded husband said, “I can’t believe that happened,” before he ran out of a small room in their basement and collapsed.

Rewind. Here’s a more complete description of the tragic event from another source [delcotimes.com]:

Michele Wanko told authorities they went to the basement where her husband opened a safe, removed several handguns and began showing her how to “clear a gun to make sure it was safe.” She said her husband had been teaching her to clear three of the handguns, and they were in a small room practicing for 45 minutes when she picked up the XD9 mm semiautomatic handgun.

The affidavit described the wife holding her arms in an extended position, with the gun in her right hand and pointed at her husband, and racking it with her left hand to make sure it was clear.

The gun fired after she racked the gun, though she was not sure if she was squeezing the trigger as she racked the gun or if she pulled the trigger afterwards, the affidavit states.

What is it with media reports of negligent discharges and passive construction? Anyway, Mr. Wanko gets the posthumous IGOTD trophy for thinking that it’s a good idea to give an inexperienced person a loaded gun after getting loaded on lemonade and vodka. Especially when she’s your wife. Just sayin’ . . .

36 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: William Wanko

  1. right, and I bet the police have never been called to the house for domestic issues. Really, oops is the perfect alibi.

  2. Learning to handle weapons should start with “don’t point a gun at someone you don’t intend to kill.”

        • Be that as it may, it’s recklessly poor judgement to handle or carry anytime after having recently imbibed.

          Personally, I never have and never will. I want as clear a head as possible should the need to deploy a weapon ever arise. And I don’t want there to be ANY questions regarding my sobriety after such an event.

          It’s the same rule I observe for operating a vehicle.

      • Another safety rule is ‘make sure only to use ammo that is specifically intended for the gun’.

        At least they got that one right.

      • Sure they do. But you need one hell of a blender to mix it.

        Isn’t this really just a Darwin Award…with an assist?

  3. And it’s still manslaughter because a reasonable person would not handle firearms while intoxicated a it is reasonable to expect this to happen. She needs to do time, even if it was really an accident.

    • Why? I thought the consensus was that guns kill people. Obviously the guns fault. Must have been a particularly evil gun that took advantage of the poor victims inebriated state.

    • This was no ‘accident.’ For one, this was incredible stupidity and negligence. For two, there is no such thing as a gun ‘accident.’ Guns simply do NOT ‘go off’ unless some outside force is applied. A gun left on a table for a century untouched will not decide on its own to blast away at the nearest human some day; It takes the hand of human stupidity to cause the disaster.

      • That’s a frivolous definition of accident promulgated by safety managers throughout our culture. Of course it didn’t go off by itself, barring some unlikely malfunction, but when something happens that is not intended, that is an accident by definition.

        It’s silly sophistry to suggest that there is no such thing as an accident. This was either murder or an accident. If it was murder, she needs to go to jail. If it was an accident, it was because of negligence and she needs to go to jail.

        • Good thinking. If I commit an overt act with a loaded gun, no matter how negligent I am, it’s still an ‘accident’ and everyone will feel SO much better about it.

          It pleases me to know that all of those ‘safety managers’ and foolish firearms instructors are wrong and YOU are right.

          Talk about sophistry. . .

    • . . . pulled the slide back, but the gun went off.
      That’s how they got the kids, too.

      If I envisioned having a brother, it would have been G,” Burnell said,

      Didn’t Barak copyright that? Mr. Burnell will need a lawyer.

  4. The two basic safety rules-
    1. Don’t do anything stupid
    2. Alcohol makes you stupid

    The rest is just understanding why people do stupid things and mitigating the reasons.

  5. Guns and booze are mutually exclusive. Enjoy each in their turn. That’s kinda the unspoken fifth law. Law zero, as it were.

  6. Anyone want to buy my XD 9mm? I can’t keep an evil gun like that in the house if it is just going to go off all by itself.

    • No, this is an example of why I will never buy an XD. If all you have to do to fire one is point it in the direction of a loved one and rack the slide while maybe-or-maybe-not pulling the trigger, this gun is FAR too unsafe for me.

      • Striker fired guns seem to lead the pack in a lot categories, including NDs.

        And John, respectfully, if you rack a round in just about any Semi pistol with the trigger down, I think there’s a fair chance it will discharge.

  7. 1. Drinking while playing with guns.
    2. Introducing a novice to multiple guns at once.
    3. Introducing a novice to guns with live ammunition in the magazine.
    4. Introducing a novice to guns while intoxicated (which I assume is the reason she forgot the safety rules/he didn’t tell her)
    5. All the safety rules (trigger off the finger, gun in safe direction, etc.)
    How does someone who can mess all this up in one go make it far enough in life to get married, have kids, and have a safe with multiple firearms? An absolute tragedy, and a very important lesson for any enthusiast looking to Safely introduce friends and family to firearms.
    (For the record, I have inert/dummy/training rounds for every weapon I own, and I don’t hand a loaded gun to anyone, even someone I’ve already trained. Including at the range.)

    • “How does someone who can mess all this up in one go make it far enough in life to get married”

      Oh, you might be surprised to know how little it takes of ANYTHING to get married…

      The first thing one needs to know about marriage is: there is a better than even chance it won’t last five years. It’s absolutely a failed institution, statistically.

      But it’s complete idiocy to blame the failures on marriage. Marriage didn’t change; PEOPLE did.

      Behind nearly every failure stands a set of unrealistic expectations.

  8. She pulled the slide back with a good strong grip on the trigger and the slide slipped either returning the cartridge back into the chamber or racking a round from a still in place loaded mag and BANG! instant widow. When Mrs. Sammy and I examine any type of firearm in a non range situation, we do it in a room that has been cleared of self detonating cartridges.

  9. Its not the alcohol.

    Its not the gun.

    Its the people. Some people are stupid. Add alcohol – More stupid. Of course, accidents can happen, but, if you’re safe when you’re sober, you’re safe when you’re plastered. One thing you never do is take your eye off the gun that someone is handling. Not only can you holler “Hey! Don’t point that gun at me!” you also can move out of the way. He turned his back. Not smart.

    The reason the second amendment was written is because the founders new that oppressive groups of people would use any means possible to deny the people their rights to own and use arms. This is a shame in one respect. It really is too bad that you can’t require every owner of a firearm to pass a safety test. It would be a good idea in theory, but, soon, that test would be made impassible by the tyrants that rule and the right would be lost.

    It is, however, a small price for society to pay to be guaranteed the right to own all manner of weapons. (Yes, *ALL* manner of weapons. The 2A: Read it. If you don’t understand it means ALL manner of weapons, you need to read it again.) Only stupid people don’t understand what the founders had in mind.

    Sometimes I do wonder if the founders also knew it would cleanse the gene pool somewhat. Sorry Mr. Wanko, but you’re a necessary casualty, a payment against the reign of tyranny.

  10. I don’t understand why so many people are quick to say “MURDER!!!” I’ve met 2 people in the past 6 months that have had accidental discharges with an XD. one of which managed to blast through his forearm.

    bottom line, beaver tail safeties make a gun unsafe simply by gripping it. and screwing around with guns while getting sh1tfaced will get you shot-in-the-faced.

    • I must ask, did the two ‘accidental discharges’ result from the triggers being pressed? Did the one fellow with the forearm-that-now-doubles-as-a-flute have said forearm inadvertently in the way of the muzzle? How did a ‘beavertail safety’ make the gun unsafe? I rather think that releasing a manual safety on any gun made them rather ‘unsafe’ if the trigger was then pressed.

      These weren’t accidents, either. If you release a safety and then press the trigger with a loaded chamber, it should be no surprise if something loud happens very shortly thereafter. I expect an argument shortly, but there is NO SUCH THING as a gun ‘accident,’ ‘silly sophistry’ be d@mned.

      It may be that Miz Wanko DID murder her hubby; That’ll be hard to prove. On the other hand, she DID kill him unlawfully, through negligence at least, and that’s why there’s ‘negligent homicide’.

  11. Cops called to the residence one year ago for domestic issue – stated it was a “fighting match” and no charges filed. Hubby worked 2 or 3 jobs; articles incorrectly state she was a stay at home mom….she works full time M to F out of the house for a large corporation. An article indicated that on the kitchen table bills and/or financial items were spread out – it was well known among their friends, etc. that they were having money issues….there is more to this than meets the eye and why on earth would someone who collects guns as it is indicated he did (he had them legally) would someone go down to a basement in the middle of the night, after being married a while and having two young kids, and decide at that point in time to show someone how to shoot. It’s a shame but all doesn’t add up….thankfully the shot didn’t go through the ceiling and up into one of the toddler’s beds…..

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