I’ve got Schnauzers. So I don’t need a pet peeve. But there he is, skulking around in the corner. No matter how many times I kick him out the door, he keeps coming back, always wearing that stupid Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day tag. In case you don’t recognize the cur, he’s got a German name. “Wentoff.” And here’s his latest appearance. “The shooting happened around 2:20pm Sunday afternoon, at Miller’s Munitions Gun Shop, off Poplar Hill Road in Huntington Township . . .

State Police in Adams County tell CBS 21 that a husband and wife went there to buy a gun and were in the back of the shop, outside test firing some weapons when something went wrong. The gun the husband held went off and the bullet from that gun hit his wife in the abdomen area. Investigators say she was flown to a York hospital, but later died.

Heads-up to whptv.com and everyone else in the journalism biz. As much as you may not want to seem insensitive by blaming people who shoot people by mistake for making a mistake and shooting someone, guns don’t “go off.” Someone pulls the trigger. They may not mean to, but they do.

In those rare, some might say mythic, occasions where a gun somehow manages to “fire itself,” no one would get hurt if the person holding the gun had followed the firearms safety rule: always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction (which includes aiming it at someone who poses an imminent lethal threat and imminence is imminent).

A person has to violate at least two safety rules (and common sense) to shoot someone “by accident.” Or, if we’re going to get all anatomical sounding, if they’re going to “create a negligent discharge.” Anyway, don’t sugarcoat it. “The husband accidentally shot his wife in the abdomen.” And that’s the truth.

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7 Responses to Note to Every Journalist and Blogger in the Entire World: Guns Are Not Alarm Clocks

  1. i must admit i am a HUGE resident evil fan and of the zombie genre in general, but the caption on this picture is great.

    RF, you are absloutley correct on the “gun went off” situation,

    “i don’t know what happened i point the gun at the woman pull the trigger and it fired, what happened?”

    hmmmmm…

    this guy was Definitely trying to kill his S/O.

  2. I don’t know if the guy was trying to shoot her or not, but the article is spot on. The media needs to stop saying stupid shit like “the gun went off” as if it were a magical, demonic, self-controlled thing from The Twilight Zone.

    • They can’t not treat it like it wasn’t a demon or something that can’t be controlled. How then would they have any argument against them? They don’t have stats. They don’t have facts. What else is there but trickery, smokescreen and hysteria?

  3. It’s a matter of journalistic accuracy and CYA. Unless the reporter has actual info that the person pulled the trigger, he or she has no right to report that. The reporter can state that the gun fired, discharged, or went off, which is a demonstrable fact — as far as it goes.

    One ethical way a reporter could handle the issue: interview and obtain a quote from an authority on the firearm in question (like an instructor) stating how the gun might/might not fire by negligence or mechanical failure. This would serve as a potential opposing perspective to the husband’s claim that he did not pull the trigger.

  4. The gun just went off? Damn, I gotta remember that. It could come in handy some day. But would it work to explain a perfectly-executed Mozambique?

  5. Sometimes, despite my following all the fundamental rules of vehicle operation, my truck will speed. The opposite is also true about my lawnmower. Despite being fueled and left in an operational status, it will not accidentally mow my grass…..?

    I completely agree. Weapons don’t just fire themselves. My great-grandson will probably have to worry that the other members of his away team thought they had their phasers set for stun when it was really on vaporize.

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