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By Rebecca Bond

When an incident like the shooting of a mother by her 2-year-old child in an Idaho Walmart occurs, it’s amazing how quickly the conversation shifts from safety to politics. Politics triggers pre-programmed emotions. It generates conversation and, let’s face it, amps the theater of media and 140-character tweets. But when politics distracts us from focusing on concrete issues that can potentially save lives – by preventing unsafe behaviors in the future – it hurts us all. Why did the unfortunate mother carry her firearm off-body? We know that she was using a zippered pouch, but does anyone seriously believe that was a wise choice with a nimble and curious toddler? Safety isn’t just about prescribed rules, it’s also taking time to consider situational context . . .

When these incidents happen, shock and blame seem to trump more pragmatic dialogue. Or as Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet said: Just the facts, ma’am. Shouldn’t we dig deep enough to find the remedy as well as the cause of the tragedy? The ‘anti-gun’ side trumpets the tragedy, but the gun owner’s side disregard much of what they say because of their own political orientation. The gun side often behaves as if making too much of these incidents creates political risk and harm, and so takes a dissonant stance in response to an avoidable tragedy. Gun owner’s shy away from the political outrage of the ‘gun control’ people. This is a big problem. Take politics and culture out of the issues of responsibility and safety that should inform intelligent conversation and messaging. The leaders of the gun community and control advocates can both own this. They both can exhibit the level of leadership common in other segments of society in order for progress to be made.

However, if that leadership is not on the immediate horizon, gun owners are the ones that can actually take immediate concrete steps to reduce avoidable tragedies. They should not shy away from embracing a safety code that respects the rights of their neighbors and protects innocent lives. The airline industry, and even individual pilots are fine describing a crash as ‘pilot error’, and more importantly, using the ‘learning’ to avoid future disasters. We find no issue in placing responsibility for the majority of fatal auto crashes on the driver. It is usually NOT the machine, but the operator of the machine who is at fault. As they say in the military, there is no such thing as ‘accidental discharge.’

If we continue to make safety a political ‘third rail’ – or the province of Twitter and media – we have less chance to gain the focus needed to create behavioral changes, and these incidents will continue to happen over and over again. No one in the gun industry we have spoken to says they are not committed to making safety paramount. Everyone acknowledges the many opportunities for human error (whether through lax safety choices or just being uniformed). Many want to do more to promote safety.

But the lack of support for coming up with more innovative ways to promote smart safety campaigns is glaring. No one wants to read another article about an avoidable shooting. Taking this on is something that is aspirational and heroic. An industry that has been referred to as a ‘cottage industry’, but now generates national conversations every day, should at least consider other ways to promote non-political safety messages that talk to new and unschooled consumers of firearms. Along with reminding those who have grown up around guns. No one gets hurt with an extra reminder or two about safety. No one.

Our organization has launched two national safety PSAs. The most recent, ‘Playthings‘, has been viewed by almost 7 million people; the most viewed gun safety spot in history. The Blaze’s Dana Loesch, was one of the first to say she liked the campaign and the use of humor to promote safety. Getting more people and industry folks behind campaigns like ours – by trying new approaches –  will save lives and amplify a non-political message we can all agree on. Thank you.

Rebecca Bond is the founder of Evolve.

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  1. Two words -“Shit Happens”

    As easy as it would be to say the toddler wouldnt have accessed the gun if it were on her person, its a statement we can’t say. There are YouTube videos of toddlers accessing entry level handgun safes with no adult assistance.

    Given that and the general curiosity of kids , said toddler could very well have lifted the gun out of an IWB/OWB holster and fatally fired it anyways. Again, there’s video footage of that happening .

    The more people who carry guns, the more mistakes will happen. Some of them will be totally unavoidable- again, if she carried IWB or on person the kid could have just lifted the piece from there instead of a purse. We have to face the likely possibility no human thing besides her NOT carrying would have prevented this tragedy-but then , we could be reading about her in the crime blotter instead. Reminds me of a SWAT officer who got shot at and the suspect’s first bullet hit the holster right at his Sig P226’s takedown lever. When said officer went for his gun, he drew and pointed a frame at the bad guy.

    Bottom line-sometimes the “Chance” card burns you, and that’s just that. This poor mom couldn’t have really prevented this. She could have educated the 2 year old , but plenty of kids have wreaked havoc despite comprehensive parenting.

    • There’s a saying in the warfighting community that applies here and I think sums up much of what you said in your post.

      “There are three sides to every fight. You, your enemy, and lady luck; and the fight is not over until She gets her say.”

      Also “shit happens.” That works pretty well too.

      This is a tragedy that could have been prevented, but if it wasn’t her, it would be someone else doing something else that got themself killed. Stupid (or intelligent) people do stupid (or just ill-advised) things and win stupid (just sad) prizes. It happens all the time. The one thing the gun community can, and should, do to prevent more of these accidents is take more time to help teach others. Those of us who grew up around firearms, had great teachers, or simply learned through constant focused efforts, should make sure that we are giving back and passing on that knowledge to as many people as we can.

    • There’s no way she could have prevented it? Actually, yes, there is a simple way she could have prevented it. She could have not brought a gun with her to run errands. Remember, safety is no accident.

        • I never said anything with regards to whether she should or should not bring a gun to run errands. Just pointing out that the most obvious and simple way to prevent this would have been to not bring the gun along. When ST says, “bottom line, there’s no way she could have prevented this”, the counterpoint is so obvious that it needs to be pointed out.

    • Your comments on the woman who was shot by her child are sooo far off from the reality of any situation. Your comments on how a child could have taken that gun from a holster while on her person is just wrong. to say that you could have educated a 2 year old on gun safety,, again, your wrong! to say that, well shit happens, is wrong. The sad reality is that there are some out there that will believe what you have written, again, that is sooo wrong. The idea of gun safety is as simple as breathing. the real issue is that some do not want to take “responsibility” for there actions. Ive used a gun for over 45 years and carried one prof. for more than 37 years. Never have I taught or excepted your premise of “shit happens”! Any time you might like to take a class on safety and responsibility I would gladly allow to attend one of my schools for free.

      • You are so right.

        I think what is missing in much of the dialogue these days about guns is for gun owners to openly and transparently agree that guns are tools designed to kill. And as such, these tools are inherently dangerous and, therefore, deserve our sincere and serious respect. I think if we openly address the purpose, dangers and risk mitigation around guns, we can stop talking past each other and begin the process of constructive dialogue.

        I have a commercial pilots license and am instrument rated. Airplanes are inherently dangerous because they can fall out of the sky. Many wood working tools are also inherently dangerous. They don’t kill but how many fingers are missing each year because of them? Automobiles are inherently dangerous. Roughly 30,000 people die each year in auto accidents.

        What makes a difference, if we are to have and use these dangerous tools, is training and an understanding and appreciation of risk management around their operation. So back to guns.

        Gun owners have a marvelous safety record as does commercial aviation. Roughly 3% of gun deaths are caused by accidents. And it is safer to fly commercial than to drive between two locations. What does this tell us?

        Aside from the fact that 97% of gun deaths are a result of actions taken to kill (oneself or someone else), we need not dwell on what ills our society here. I wish to focus on the 3% and the greater problem associated with the collective fear of guns possessed by many people in our society who vote.

        Although there is an excellent safety record for guns, we can do better and must because each and every accident creates a much larger perception that there is a huge problem at hand. As my first supervisor once told me, “Perception is 9 tenths of reality.”

        So let’s look at training as you point out. Can you imagine a pilot being permitted to fly after 4-8 hours of training? Now reflect a moment on obtaining a CC permit. Does someone who never owned a gun or shot a gun really prepared to carry? Is 4-8 hours of training really considered safe?

        I believe that training should center around the fact that guns are tools to kill and are inherently dangerous. Period. And most important, the majority of training should NOT be about target practice; its about safety and risk management. In aviation, training is not about how well you grease a landing, its about how safe you are in your decision making both during normal flight and when there is a problem causing high stress. Hmmm …. sound familiar? A CC situation is actually under enormously high stress.

        So what does it mean to be a responsible gun owner? Ask yourself this. Would you let your child into a fully equipped wood shop without making sure that not one dangerous tool was accessible? Of course not. But how many gun owners, for example, leave their gun(s) in a drawer, unlocked .. .just in case in a ready state? Or carry in a fashion that creates risk? (that is another subject). I get the “just in case” part and agree. However, what if the neighbors stop by and they have, unexpectedly, children who enter the house and they happen to be very curious and you lose sight of them during your conversations and they wander where you keep your “just in case” gun?

        My point is this, as gun owners, let’s get serious, honest and redefine what responsibility actually means as a gun owner. We must do so or, unfortunately, we will loose the right and that would be tragic for all of us and in a most ironic way, to those who fear guns because guns are those very powerful and dangerous tools in the hands of citizens that keep tyrants of all kinds at bay ranging from an attack in a dark parking lot to a dictator. Just ask the ghosts of the 10s of millions who died at the hands of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other tyrants …. all in the 20th century. Imagine if all of those people had a military rifle and a hand gun with a 1,000 rounds stored in their home and they new how to use them with great effectiveness. There is no question in my mind that most of them would be alive today.

        I pray that those who fear guns and want to take them away from citizens wake up to this chilling fact. Yes, they should fear guns. Everyone should have a healthy respect for the power and danger that a gun represents. But this is why the Colt 45 revolver was called the “Peacemaker.” If you were good and had this tool strapped to your leg, tyrants and those planning to perpetrate evil on you would have serious second thoughts. The gun actually stops violence. This is along the same lines as what my dad, a Lt in the Marines during WWII taught me when teaching me about guns, “Son, the gun is the great equalizer.”

  2. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that the NRA might produce a modest series of subtle TV ads, perhaps featuring average US citizens in the foreground, calmly talking about guns and how they feel about them, as they go about their daily business. In the background, however, would be a series of potential “bad actors” as a favorite teacher of mine once termed them. Thugs out of place in the suburban scene, prowlers in parking lots, agents of “diversity”… TV ads are not cheap, and they’d want to hire a top-flight agency to develop, produce and shoot (ha) the ads. Just a thought.

    Or feature real tales of fortuitous firearm use, such as the teenager who found herself confronting a cougar and not the bobcat she expected, which she calmly dispatched.

  3. Take politics and culture out of the issues of responsibility and safety that should inform intelligent conversation and messaging.

    That statement is beyond silly. Gun people didn’t inject politics into the issue. Gun people didn’t start the culture war. All we want is the G to keep it’s bloody hands off our culture and our guns.

    None of us should be so insane as to believe that we can take culture and politics out of the issues. The gungrabbers have to do that. And they never will.

    • It’s not a matter of who started inserting politics into the argument, It’s about the fact that both sides wallow in the politics. Rebecca advocates, and rightly so IMNSHO, that politics needs to be extracted from this particular topic.

      • if I’m wallowing in politics, it’s because the left turned on the tap and keeps on pumping it’s bilge in my direction.

        When the Democrats stop trying to steal our firearms and our rights, then we can focus on important issues like crime and gun safety.

        Nobody preaches the gospel of gun safety more than the NRA, which it turns out is Public Enemy #1 for the left. So, nothing that the left says about safety — or anything else — can be believed. It’s a scam. And I’m not falling for it.

        • Very well said Ralph, and I couldn’t agree more. The pilot comparison struck me as particularly idiotic, given that airlines are not a political issue. Same with her remark about cars; both of the author’s points ignore the basic reality of the gun grabbers, who are notorious for blaming guns rather than people.

        • Yup.

          And on that note, I am so incredibly tired of hearing about this woman getting shot.

          Either someone else did it and blamed the kid (I saw interesting posts lower on this page that ask some questions pertaining to that) or this woman was an irresponsible, concealed carrying gun owner.

          Either way… ::yawn::. How many people are killed every year in automobile accidents for being distracted by a 2 year old or the wheel being turned? I’m thinking a decent number.

          Shit happens and people are stupid. The only reason anyone even cares about this story is that the kid was so young and the mother was attractive. Usually accidental shooting deaths are caused by kids who are a little older.

        • When the NRA talks about gun safety, it’s only within their clubs. They aren’t putting out ads advocating for gun safety, just about gun politics.

          If they can put out ads complaining about the President’s kids having bodyguards, they can put one out telling people to make sure their gun isn’t a toy.

          I’m military trained so I treat my weapons with respect. Unfortunately there’s way too many people out there that are either too untrained or too stupid to handle a firearm safely. The only gun safety they’ve ever been taught came from playing Grand Theft Auto.

      • Extracting politics from a POLITICAL issue (second amendment. that’s politics by definition), is impossible. That’s like reasoning with terrorists. We all understand that jihadists will not be reasoned with. Neither will any other sociopathic criminal, so we don’t assume “reasoning with them” is going to be part of the terms of engagement.

        Liberals will actively fight to remove our rights which is automatically a political issue. You cannot reason with a “government should take care of me and you and I don’t care what the reality is la la la” person about anything involving guns.

        Elsewhere in this thread and other places I (and one or two other people) have said NRA would be smart to do some very visible gun safety ads showing directly how they have been working toward education with gun safety. Those messages aren’t for liberals and they aren’t for people already on our side. They are for fence sitters who don’t understand what’s at stakes and the lies told by the far left to dismantle our rights.

        When we’re talking about constitutionally enshrined rights and people out there who want to take it away it is political by definition and will always be so. There is no way for it not to be political. Even if everybody agreed and nobody was trying to take guns or gun rights, it would STILL be political.

          • Palin actually made the (quite true) assertion that Russia is visible from Alaska, as a small part of a larger answer in the context of a question about her inexperience on foreign policy matters.

        • From Snopes:

          “As to the question of whether one can actually see Russia from Alaska, Governor Palin was correct: such a view is possible from more than one site in that state. A Slate article on the topic noted that:
          In the middle of the Bering Strait are two small, sparsely populated islands: Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States. At their closest, these two islands are a little less than two and a half miles apart, which means that, on a clear day, you can definitely see one from the other.
          Also, a 1988 New York Times article reported that:
          To the Russian mainland from St. Lawrence Island, a bleak ice-bound expanse the size of Long Island out in the middle of the Bering Sea, the distance is 37 miles. From high ground there or from the Air Force facility at Tin City atop Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost edge of mainland North America, on a clear day you can see Siberia with the naked eye.”

  4. There are plenty of accidental discharges in the military, they are far outnumbered by negligent discharges but they do exist.

      • I hear some Remington shotguns are known to exhibit accidental discharges.

        (“Accidental” means an actual mechanical failure that causes the gun to go “boom” when not intended, while “negligent” means that human error – i.e. a finger on the trigger – causes the gun to go “boom” when not intended.)

  5. They should not shy away from embracing a safety code that respects the rights of their neighbors and protects innocent lives.

    Ms. Bond, you must not spend a lot of time around gun owners (or on TTAG), because all anyone talked about after this terrible event was safety safety safety. We all embrace the Jeff Cooper safety code vigorously — so much so that some gun people get a rap for being “safety Nazis”. Shooters who flout this code are called out quick. TTAG doesn’t publish IGOTD just for morbid chuckles. It’s education by negative example.

    There is no lack of support for safety training in the gun owning community. The lack of support comes from everyone who thinks anything the NRA does is disingenuous or self-serving. Media groups, educators and other orgs can try to pretend Eddie Eagle doesn’t exist, but then don’t talk about a “glaring” omission of safety programs. (Eddie Eagle is about as apolitical as you can get, unless you consider eagles Republican.)

    EVERYONE is now rethinking and discussing off-body carry, just as we all debated the Serpa after the Tex Grebner incident. We don’t bury our tragedies here. We learn from them.

    • …consider other ways to promote non-political safety messages that talk to new and unschooled consumers of firearms.

      If by “non-political” you mean unconnected with the NRA or NSSF, why? No one ever asks for non-political information on hate groups. They go to the SPLC or the NAACP and are fine with it. If wants to start a gun safety program, they can go for it.

      • Agreed. I’m 100% for keeping this all political because at the end of the day what matters to me is my second amendment right to keep and bear arms. There is nothing apolitical about that. Nor will there ever be.

  6. Don’t know where all the info is coming from, I hadn’t heard it. But now we’re saying a 2-year-old removed the gun from a zippered pouch before shooting his mother with it? Where can I locate the video of this tragedy? I’d like to see that.

    • While a video would be morbid, I do kind of want to see one to confirm this is actually what happened. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but in later news reports it wasn’t just her with her kid and other kids by herself in walmart. It was her husband to. (This stated by the father-in-law in an interview.) So how exactly did SHE, all the other children, AND the husband turn their back/lose focus on the baby and purse left in the cart for long enough for this tragedy to unfold?

      Who told police it was the kid that did it? I mean IS there a video anywhere confirming this? It’s possible a lot of weird crap and irresponsibility came together to make this happen exactly as stated, but I don’t know… the story to me is… weird. And she’s a nuclear scientist? Really? I know that you can be book smart and lack common sense, but there are about a million things in this that make me not 100% trust all facts of this story unless I see some real proof. Obviously nobody is obligated to show me a video, but I’m not obligated to believe every story the media spouts out without and actual proof, either. Particularly when it sounds as wonky as all this.

      • Links to news articles saying that hubby was with her (or at least in the store) when she was shot, please?

        Only reports I’ve read (here’s one: say that his son/her hubby wasn’t at the store when the event occurred.

        I have a hard time imagining he was there, but was able to make it look like he wasn’t anywhere near there.


          I think you’re right. This isn’t the original article I was looking at, but it’s got most of the same text. in the article it says: “The distraught father-in-law said his son Colt gave Veronica the bag before the couple drove hundreds of miles north to visit him the day after Christmas.”

          I conflated that with the shopping trip probably. I could have sworn that he said something about “them all going shopping” but it might have just meant “them all” was the mother and the kids. The way the original story I read that made me think that was organized made it sound like that.

          But you’re right, everything I’m reading now says it was just the mom and the kids. I thought when I read that other article that it was a clarification of an earlier assumption since there were so many misreportings of this story earlier. It makes more sense and seems more likely now that it went down this way.

          In the comments thread of the original article I can’t find now (because I can’t remember what site it was on. This was all over the internet), someone had suggested they suspected the husband, which implies at least one other person read the organization of that particular article the way I did.

  7. Rebecca and Evolve clearly aren’t paying attention. Discussions of this incident and how to learn from it are everywhere. This was discussed on both GunTalk and Armed American Radio this week. True gun safety conversations are everywhere.

      • Ding! Ding! Ding Evolve is a couple of MARKETEERS (like Shannon Watts) who think they have the magic formula to “fix” the “Gun violence” problem in the US. The want us all to “just get along”. Wonder what they’d propose on the whole Paris/Terrorist front? Let’s have a discussion?!

        My wife has a concealed carry purse she bought on a whim (expensive whim!) She won’t use it though, because we have a 4 yr. old grandson who might get into her purse. She isn’t carrying everyday until she’s comfortable w/her training & method of carry.

        Go away, Evolve. Sell something innocuous like Pampers or Charmin.

        • From the article:

          “I started an organization called Evolve, the sole purpose of which is to promote culture change around gun safety and responsibility and more innovative ways to get more people to think about it. Using the ‘tools’ of creative and media. To some, that seemed too superficial, with not enough ‘teeth.’ To others it prompted the tired ‘false flag’ statement. I respectfully disagree, because we know that fresh ways of communicating can be some of the most powerful antidotes to the most intractable problems.

          To agree or disagree with the politics of lions is not the point. I believe both sides can have conversations about how we can do better”


          People think it’s a “false flag” statement because “gun safety” is a KNOWN dog whistle used by anti-gun rights orgs who want to fool people into supporting their anti-gun rights activities by using non-threatening sounding goals that “surely everybody is for!” like “gun safety”. Yeah, everybody is for gun safety. I don’t know anybody not for it, but it depends on if you plan to achieve that with just education on gun safety itself or if you plan to achieve it with legislation and more gun restriction, as the left has proven they will do. There is no “compromise” between both sides here because nobody on the far left “just” wants gun safety. They want guns gone.

          Also… re: both sides can have a conversation about what we can do better… so she acknowledges there that she HAS a side, she’s not actually switzerland on the matter. She just won’t share it. Yeah, how non-suspicious.

        • Summer: “re: both sides can have a conversation about what we can do better… so she acknowledges there that she HAS a side”

          Still working my way through who/what Evolve “is.” But with all due respect, to acknowledge that there are two sides is not an admission to being aligned with one of them. To use your analogy, Switzerland could have legitimately said there were two sides during WW II and still remained neutral.

        • From the syntax of her statement, what “we” can do better implied to me that she had skin in the game… as in an actual side. That might not be the case of that particular statement but really, who would get riled up after Newtown, and start a gun safety group that went to so much trouble to not talk about politics. It’s hard for me to imagine someone with that level of passion not having a side in a highly political issue. I remain skeptical that she has no side, and especially skeptical that that side is “2A supporting, freedom loving, gun enthusiast.”

    • And I believe Rebecca was on Gun Talk not too long ago and Tom just creamed her, it was a massacre.

      • Massacre it was not. Tom and I might disagree on Super Bowl ads, but when it comes to safety and responsponsibility, we agree.

      • I remember that. She spoke exactly the same way she writes in the above essay — mostly doublespeak, the language of policy-brained government and nonprofit flacks who try to avoid actually saying anything.

        As I recall, Tom pressed her on whether she would support extending the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program to teach more young children about gun safety (primarily not touching them) and Ms. Bond would only reply that she would love to “have a conversation” with the operators of the EE program. Tom pointed out that she hadn’t answer his question, and she only repeated that she would be happy to “have a meeting” or some similar dodge.

        Whenever people like that won’t answer a direct question a second time, especially after having it pointed out to them, my hackles (like the shoulder thingie) go up.

        • I’m skeptical when she wants to “have a conversation” with them and refuses to answer the question head on. Just like she won’t answer any other question head on. Just like a liberal.

  8. “The gun side often behaves as if making too much of these incidents creates political risk and harm, and so takes a dissonant stance in response to an avoidable tragedy. . . . Take politics and culture out of the issues of responsibility and safety that should inform intelligent conversation and messaging. The leaders of the gun community and control advocates can both own this. ”
    There is something to this point in the OP. If we the PotG don’t appear to the public to claim ownership of the gun-safety issue then we will leave some of the battlefield to the Antis. We know what we are doing – at ranges, in classes, through the NRA – but, we probably aren’t effective enough in making the non-gun-owning public aware of how much effort we put into safety education.
    Instructors of First-Steps-Pistol and analogous courses need to include a hand-out for women shooters that draws their attention to best-practices for carrying for women. (We all need to be very conscious of our environments; e.g., when grandchildren come to visit the night-stand gun needs to be put away.) Women have two special concerns: 1) their clothing doesn’t lend itself to carrying; and, 2) they are our society’s primary care-givers to young children. These aren’t insurmountable obstacles; but, they call for a concerted effort to keep and bear safely.
    Personally, I’ve chosen to carry a single-action pistol in Condition 2 despite the known disadvantages. If a woman can cock the hammer quickly, perhaps this is a safer alternative than a safety or no-safety type of gun and carry mode. That cocking-the-hammer step is one more failure a child would have to make happen to create an accident.

    • Yes and no. As I and others have commented, the gun community has not been silent about this incident. But the media, for the most part, doesn’t care what we have to say because guns=evil. Period. They don’t want to talk to the SAF or their ilk. It would be like calling up the KKK to them.

      On the other hand, the NRA doesn’t comment on these incidents anyhow, and their pernicious silence has been discussed on TTAG. Like it or not, the NRA is the go-to for gun news and they need to be more open to that.

  9. I don’t want to sound ungracious to a guest author, but while we should of course continue to promote education regarding safe firearm handling practices, the reality is that the mortality rate due to negligent firearm discharges is at a historic low even as firearm ownership reaches record highs. I couldn’t help but get the feeling, after reading the entire post, that it was merely a well-couched plug for the linked PSAs.

    • This is a good, important point. Clearly, people are doing a good job with gun safety already. The rate of accidental gun deaths has been going down while gun ownership and carry rates have been going up. Currently, something like three times as many people die each year from falling down while just walking along as do from accidental shootings.

    • Chip, it IS a plug for the PSA too. Our message is ‘safety’ and that’s what we are trying to ‘sell.’ And our only return-on-investment is if we prevent one avoidable accident from happening by 1. having people secure their firearms and 2. continue to keep the rules of safety top-of-mind.

      • ” Our message is ‘safety’ and that’s what we are trying to ‘sell.’”

        Then stop lying about what we are or are not saying. Stop acting like the NRA has no dog in the ‘safety’ fight…that is PRO-SAFETY fight.

        How many links on your site are there to either:

        (1) NRA’s Eddie Eagle program?
        (2) Any of about 10,000 web sites that quote and advocate STRICT adherence to Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules?
        (3) The TTAG page for the toddler-shoots-mom story when it broke with a hundred+ comments discussing SAFETY VIOLATION and ways to prevent similar incidents?
        (4) Blog posts (or your own) or one of your “PSA’s” promoting the return of gun safety classes in elementary schools?

        You can claim you are all about “Safety,” but I’m not buying it for a second. I’ve watched at least one of your PSA’s. Pure tripe.

        You want to promote safety? You want to be part of a real solution? Here’s how you do it: tell people to find someone knowledgeable about guns to teach them how to safely handle guns. The learner does not have to be a gun owner…but people need to know facts.

        We don’t teach children to be ‘safe’ crossing busy street by trying to hide busy streets and cars and trying to act like if they close their eyes and wish the danger away. We teach children how to handle dangerous situations by exposing them to the dangers (in a controlled way) with rational solutions to mitigate the risk.

        • That’s a big part of why her message is so offensive. She wants to do ‘gun safety’ by erasing the contributions by gun people. Like we’re all sitting around doing moronic things with our guns until she showed up to save us from ourselves. And reports indicate that before Newtown she knew next to nothing about guns. And immediately after Newtown this was forming this “apolitical” gun safety group that somehow doesn’t seem aware (despite a seemingly endless stream of “safety ambassadors”) that she’s arriving at the party after we’ve already been doing safety!

  10. Evolve stumbled out of the gate, misrepresenting comments by Dave Coonan, and causing problems for the marketing guy, who frankly got egg on his face, too, per earlier TTAG articles.

    Dana Loesche didn’t give Evolve a pass for their messaging, either, more like a gentle schooling, in this youtube interview that apparently is where Ms Bonds qoute comes from.

    And despite past questions about who is behind them, Evolve Together, Inc is not listed in CharityNavigator or Guidestar, as to funding sources, ratings on governance, nor is their any info on Evolves website or Facebook page.

    Rebecca, please post your 2013 IRS 990 disclosures, which are public records for anyone who submits the official request anyway,

    and explain why TTAG readers should trust your “third way” isn’t just more New York pr sockpuppetry, like MDA’s discredited “common-sense”?

    Who is on your Board, with expertise in gun safety? Who else is on your Board, and why? Who is paying for the PSA’s, and your time?

    Its ok, if you are a work from home Mom, and this safety conversation is your passion, in between your architectural firm marketing gig, but

    This is basic marketing, differentiation:
    Why and how are you any better or different than the dozens of existing safety experts, including the NRA, with a long track record?

    • And Rebecca, with respect spinning a humorous clip about dildos as the #1 “firearm safety video of all time”

      Is not helping your credibilty…ok, the preening in self-superiority progressive left, and the FakeBook mommies marketing themselves, on Instagram, Pinterest, PuffHos and so on, might find it amusing…

      But here’s who the firearms community trusts,
      or at least, those most interested in learning more, as they start seriously considering buying firearms…

      When the ad agencies are all done patting themselves on the back, for say, helping politicians lie and mislead citizens, via the latest community organized “under the radar”* movement, you can go ‘listen to your customers’ in the media, and wonder why the country is more polarized, and media and advertising credibility is at all time lows…(you’ve seen the Pew polls, I am sure)…

      * who wrote that book, anyway?

      • ‘Preening’ is the last thing that anyone has time for. Kudos to any creative team who can come up with a message and campaign that reaches millions of people and, perhaps, just perhaps, prompts people to have many more discussions around securement and safe handling of firearms. There is not a single thing wrong with that. There can never be one too many of those conversations. And if is us, the NRA, the NSSF, the manufacturers, this blog, who can chip in to make more of those high-impact campaigns, well, that is a good thing.

        • So where are those publicly available IRS forms and other documents that let us know who we’re dealing with?

          Evade. Evade. PR talk. Evade. Ignore requests for actual real information.

        • No, not evade, evade, evade. It’s called busy running a small and hard-working operation. It’s like any start-up with little funds. We just secured our 501c3 in mid-2014. When our accountant is done with the filings, you be sure to look it up. You know what will amaze…how much one can get done if everyone chips in goods and services. And you call every one of your friends to help out. And there are people who write in to offer their services. And those very nice people from all parts of the country who donate $10 and $15. Those donations actually mean a lot to us because of the spirit in which they are made. And it all adds up. Bottom line, when there isn’t the luxury of millionaires or billionaires in our midst, we start dialing the phone and knocking on doors asking people to do stuff. And my husband and I have personally funded much of this. I work full-time on this – no salary – and I raise three kids, two stepsons, two dogs, a hamster and my husband, on occasion. We have a legal board per our 501c3 – that means founders. The only ‘luminaries’ we have are those who are willing to work hard, and they are our advisory board. You will meet some of our advisory board members from the gun community when they begin to publish content on our site and our future campaigns come out. We will include their bios as well. People can kick-the-tires on this, or just see what else we do. We have some pretty cool safety things coming out. And a little help from all, well, we can get things done a little quicker. In the meantime, we hope you continue to check us out and share one of our campaigns if you like it. Thanks.

        • All of this sounds so commendable and fluffy but I just don’t really trust you. Sorry. Too many people in too many places online have suggested your using a dog whistle. If you’re not, that’s really unfortunate, but given the climate and all the liars on the left, I don’t want to be taken by one. I’ll stick to giving to the NRA. I won’t give even $10 to a group whose ultimate goals I’m unsure of when it comes to gun rights.

        • Also, for someone who is SO busy, you do seem to want to have the same conversation with a bunch of people multiple different times in email instead of on the one website where you came to us. I mean, why on earth would you seek to “start a conversation” somewhere like TTAG if you didn’t have a couple of days sort of cleared to field questions? It seemed important enough to you to come here and try to make some sort of statement to us and make sure we knew about your organization?

          If you just recently filed certain forms and there is nothing publicly available for us to see yet… why wouldn’t you have waited to come over here and talk to us until after you got that done. Did you think you’d be met with no skepticism at all?

          Every comment you’ve made has been very thin on your values with regards to guns.

          I may come across as picking on you. And you may be genuinely innocent of any ill intentions with regards to the rights of gun owners. But your manner of communicating here leads me not to trust you or your organization. Now that might mean you are untrustworthy or it might be a personal flaw of mine.

          But you talk about innovative and creative ways to discuss gun safety through social media. Retweeting Bloomberg is innovative and creative? It certainly is “unusually” to privatize your tweet stream. Maybe that’s a strategy that’s over my head. Twitter and Facebook, etc. haven’t exactly been innovative in about ten years. And if you want to innovate with gun safety “itself”… well the basics of gun safety don’t change for a reason. Innovate too much and you start adding a bunch of steps that make no sense and cause the safety reflexes we try to ingrain to break down. Or did you mean come up with “innovative safety requirements for guns and gun storage which will be put into law because we all agreed about safety and responsibility?”

    • I checked Charitynavigator as well. I was curious if someone else might have been able to find out their political leanings with regards to guns. In my mind the stakes are just too high to give any aide to any gun-related group who won’t share their political views re: my gun rights. If you want to be involved in guns in a non-profit capacity, you have to be willing to pony up what side of the fence you’re on. Otherwise, I might be financially supporting a group intent on the destruction of my rights. Let me think about that. Um… no.

    • Didn’t you hear? She’s hard at work with gun “safety ambassadors” (that even she put quotes around!) That’s serious bizness. How dare you question the seriousness of that.

        • The fact that you put it in scare quotes lets me know exactly what you think about me. But it’s really pretty mutual. I don’t want to have “conversations” with people who can’t be up front about their values and politics on highly political issues they supposedly want to champion in apolitical ways. And I still can’t believe you were given a platform from which to speak without even so much of a disclaimer to the rest of us.

    • We share a lot of things from many sources. As does this site and many others. But we don’t engage in politics as most people familiar with us know. But mostly we try to share information about things that could have been avoided.

      • What you don’t engage in is transparency about your political views re: gun rights, which isn’t going to win you friends and financial donors in the gun community. It doesn’t mean you are actually “bad”. The point is we don’t “know”, and you do little weird thing after little weird thing that just makes me think you are a slightly more sophisticated MDA. People who donate to charities and get involved with them are becoming more and more savvy. I don’t give to any group with less than a 3 out of 4 star rating on Charity Navigator. (And if they have that 3, it better be because they are failing in a few areas that are NOT the area of transparency which is separately rated.) For me, you’re failing on transparency.

      • I’m sorry Rebecca, but back when your twitter feed was open to the public you appeared to be pretty ‘hard-core anti-gun’, so it is difficult for me to see your organization as anything other than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        Maybe if you shared more things regarding the NRA Eddie Eagle program and other actual gun safety programs you might be more believable, but I would probably still be suspicious.

        • But that would ruin her mastermind plan to convince people she invented gun safety and saved the gun nuts from themselves because obviously we’re just waving our guns everywhere with our fingers inside the trigger guard because we’re idiot yokels. We were smart enough to see through her in under half an hour. Maybe she should rethink our supposed idiocy.

  11. Of course we should all encourage firearms safety at every possible opportunity.

    As for drawing attention to negligent discharges, I have a hard time with that. The author hailed the virtue of pilots and safety organizations who discuss and try to learn from plane crashes. I doubt that pilots and safety organizations would discuss plane crashes so openly if a well funded group of people and many politicians were trying to ban flying.

    • Understood. But there can be a place where the politics is stripped from the conversation and we can have a conversation about what people do agree on: safe practices and preventing the avoidable.

  12. This is a little off-topic, but I have my doubts about whether Rutledge’s shooting occurred as the news has described it. I suspect the pistol was just laying in the purse. If someone had seen the tot extracting the gun from its carry pocket in the purse, presumably this person would have stopped the tot. Since the tot was not stopped, then, presumably, no one saw what happened prior to the shooting. What has been reported — the tot unzipped the carry pouch and removed the gun — seems like nothing more than what Rutledge’s family hopes happened.

    I also saw a comment on this site that suggested Rutledge may have tried to grab the gun out of the tot’s hand, causing a trigger pull. That sounds reasonable to me. The gun was some sort of M&P. Those triggers are not particularly light.

    To circle back to safety, I have a young child. My loaded firearms are semi-automatic pistols. I carry on body or keep them locked up without a round in the chamber and (if one exists) the safety on. Off body access is tough for both of us. It’s my choice, and I’ll be making it until he’s old enough to handle a gun himself.

    • Anxiously looking forward to a detailed report on this one.

      None of the reports I’ve read indicate that the tot “drew” the weapon and pointed it at his mother. I also have a hard time picturing a 2 YO being able to do that and pull a 5-6 lb. trigger.

      My suspicion is that he managed to pull the trigger while the piece was still in the purse. I’m thinking that her rig provided enough friction/tension on the gun, against which junior could have worked the trigger.

    • An article I found on Google from a newspaper in the NW (sorry, I forgot to get the citation) said the weapon was a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm, and that the victim was shot in the head. Grisly if the child did it. I tried a 9mm Shield at a rental range and thought it was a phenomenal gun, which I probably would have bought had one been available for sale. My recollection is that it had a short, light trigger, unfortunately making it easier for the kid to discharge. I checked a photo on the S&W web site and it sure looks like it has a safety, which, if the woman was as experienced as her family said she was, would have been on. I still cannot comprehend a 2 year old being physically and intellectually able to release the safety, hold the gun and pull the trigger, but they are certainly precocious and this is the age by which you are supposed to have all the cabinets with medicines, corrosives, sharps, certainly guns. locked up. We had the locks on everything as soon as our daughter could crawl across the kitchen floor but she always got in my wife’s purse. All kids do this. It is sad and I hope all parents and grandparents of small children will carefully consider and reconsider their gun carry and storage situations.

      • Not all Shields have safeties, although they do have a hinged trigger safety (mostly for drop safety)

  13. I thought some of this sounded odd, as in not at all what I have been seeing first hand with regard to gun owners and gun manufacturers addressing safety. Then I got to the bottom and saw this, “Rebecca Bond is the founder of Evolve.” Now it makes sense why this is still trying to blame the gun community.

    • This is actually the first time I’d heard of “Evolve.”

      I just skimmed (very briefly) their website.

      What specifically is your beef with them?

      • From the very start they’ve been an anti-gun group, they had to do a reboot of the group because they weren’t discrete enough about it at the beginning.

        This article is a perfect example of their shtick, according to them, we gun owners are “dumbasses” and are not proactively involved in the topic of gun safety. So they need to be the ‘third way” to come in, talk down to us, and tell us how to be safe.

        • We are not anti-gun. We try very hard to be transparent and talk with anyone who wants to talk with us. Writing about us is not talking with us. If you would like to learn more, or speak with someone at Evolve, send us an email. We would love to hear from you.

        • Got any links to support that, Gun_Chris?

          I’ll look into Evolve further, but I will say right out front, I have been around more than my share of dumba$$ gun-owners, and I definitely cotton to the idea of the gun culture policing itself, even at the risk of ruffling the feathers of a friend or relative.

          If we inadvertently hurt any feelings, all we should have to is ask them, “You remember Veronica Rutledge, don’t you? No? Let me tell you about her …”

        • Gun_Chris:

          Looked further. Found this:

          ““Gun Control” Messages ‘Evolve’,” by David Codrea

          Like Arte Johnson’s Kraut soldier used to say on Laugh-In, “Veeeeeery interesting …”

          Mrs. Bond:

          Does Evolve have an official position on civilians carrying handguns in public for self defense?

          If not, do you have an unofficial one?

          And do you have any response to Mr. Codrea’s article, linked above?

        • @ Frank, of particular interest: “Clearly what’s needed is a group that doesn’t carry such baggage, at least openly, and conveniently, one is rising to the fore, enjoying publicity from such disinterested parties as Piers Morgan and The New York Times. They call themselves Evolve Together, Inc., and they represent themselves as the “third voice … in the gun debate.” That alone should raise red flags, as the “third way” movement has its roots in “social democracy.” In other words, “compromise” means ceding to the left.

          The group says it started around a kitchen table, founded after Newtown by Rebecca and Jon Bond of Greenwich Village, a “branding expert” who worked as a marketing consultant and an “advertising executive” respectively. They admit they knew nothing about guns, so who better to presume to lecture the rest of us?”


          So, yeah.

        • Rebecca: “We try very hard to be transparent and talk with anyone who wants to talk with us.”

          Try harder.

  14. “Shouldn’t we dig deep enough to find the remedy as well as the cause of the tragedy?”

    The fact is some people just do a poor job of risk assessment. We say “shit happens” and it was an unfortunate event. Others are just adept at seeing the possible consequences of actions and naturally take steps to avoid unfortunate outcomes. We then call them the lucky ones. Situational awareness and risk assessment can be taught, but it must be practiced everyday to become a natural behavior. We all follow certain patterns in our lives and it’s the changes that throw us off. This woman had only had that concealment purse for a few days, she hadn’t really assessed that it was inadequate for secure storage around a two year old.

  15. Hayden is about 30 minutes up the road from us. When I heard the first news reports last week, I pictured in my mind that this poor woman was the poster child for the “People of Walmart” website — dimwitted, half a set of teeth, four grubby kids in tow, with her $100 Hi-Point 9mm flopping around inside her canvas, single-compartment Duck Dynasty purse/duffel.

    Had all my prejudicial assumptions been true, the story would be no less tragic — and its lessons would be no less applicable to me. But none if them were true. Quite the opposite, in fact. Rutledge was highly intelligent and a published scientist, and both her and her husband’s families were deeper into the gun culture than I’ve ever been.

    I’ve done a couple of stupid things with guns in my younger days (about twenty years ago) — thankfully, without even so much as an unintentional discharge or anyone suggesting that the police be called. I’d like to think that I learned from those stupidities. But then along comes a story like Veronica Rutledge’s.

    No, I’m not contemplating getting rid of my guns, or no longer carrying concealed. (I had fallen into “safety complacency” shortly after moving up here from AZ, but I’ve carried virtually every day since 12/14/12.)

    But I am going to sit down with my wife, sons and daughters-in-law, and have an open, honest discussion and assessment of our “gun habits,” with a cold, critical eye toward improving them wherever necessary.

    • Make sure you pass on that the stereotypical redneck from North Idaho doesn’t apply anymore.. it will go a long way when we venture down to Spokane to get cultured;)

      • Just so you know, my stereotyping was due to two things: 1. She was in Walmart; and 2. the nature of the accident.

        I shop at Walmart myself, but still … “People of Walmart”? Lot of truth to that website!

        And while I’m nowhere near as academically accomplished as was Rutledge, I’m of above intelligence.

        As far as my impression of northern ID, not to worry. While I see my share of hicks and rubes, it’s on both sides of the state line, and it’s not a majority by far.

        Furthermore, when we moved up here, we pulled into a Jack in the Box for lunch, must have been in CdA, and the first thing we laid eyes on when we walked in there was a handsome young white guy holding hands and a lovely young black girl, holding hands and eating lunch.

        (Which simply served to reinforce my hopes that northern ID wasn’t crawling with a bunch of Richard Butler wanna-bes!)

  16. “Playthings” video == OMG! Hahahahahahahahaha…*thud to floor, holding chest*



  17. Don’t know what to make of Evolve, but concealed carry is sufficiently popular that it is now time to have a ‘Concealed Carry Institute’. It should research and propagate best practices, possibly developing course material as well.

  18. Ms Bond:

    We have been hearing about Evolve for quite a while now, and how you want a “conversation”. Certainly nothing on your website strikes me as anti-gun per se. However, what does strike me as odd is that despite your insistence on the importance of a conversation, you don’t seem terribly interested in starting it. Nowhere on your site do I find any helpful suggestions, tips, practices, etc. Nor do I find links to existing safety programs, or case studies with analysis of how safety practices could have helped avoid a tragedy. What I do see is a donate button, with no description of how that money would be used. If you really want a conversation, a little transparency and a willingness to be the first to start “the conversation” would be a good first step.

    • Thanks for your feedback. It’s helpful and instructive. We are working with a team of gun ‘safety ambassadors’ who will write about safety. We will also have resources on our site for safety options and ‘go-to’ sources. What should be abundantly clear by how is that we are not backed by billionaires and we rely on the hearts and brains of volunteers willing to pitch in. We are never able to have enough money or resources to do all that we would like to do, when would like to do it. And we have never suggested even slightly that we replace any of the current safety efforts. We applaud and support them. And we promote them on our social channels. There is no reason to not have more safety messaging that does not involve politics. It’s good for everyone. Anyone who can help us from the gun community, we welcome them. If you or anyone sends an email or phone number to our website, we will respond. Thank you.

  19. I have my own opinions (many of which have been stated by others all over the internet already) about all the coulda woulda shoulda’s of the situation. What upsets me is that when I first saw the original story (My first exposure to the story was once the toddler had been introduced, not the earlier iterations where nobody knew anything but that a woman was shot in a walmart)… but what upsets me is… I saw the story headlines and the FIRST thought in my mind was: “Oh great, the liberals will use that to try to take away gun rights.”

    That makes me livid. I didn’t at that moment feel any empathy for the woman or her situation. Upon reflection, of course it’s terrible and tragic. But due to the left’s insistence of playing this way where they politicize every tragedy and pretend they are doing it out of caring, little bits of my humanity are being stripped away. Because I would have had the empathy response immediately (instead of days later) if it weren’t for the immediate feeling of threats to my own rights to protect myself.

  20. Aside from what the actual stance of Ms Bond and “Evolve” is, could she written a post in something that didn’t read like politician style gibberish?

    • I respectfully disagree with you calling it ‘political gibberish’, but let’s set that aside…what are your other topic areas around safety that you would like to read about?

      • …what are your other topic areas around safety that you would like to read about?

        Hospital safety? Automobile safety? Pool safety? Ladder safety? Household chemicals safety? All of those things pose a greater demonstrated risk to people – and especially to children – than firearms.

        Regarding firearms safety and safe firearm handling, we need to stay the course. What we’re doing is working, and is working quite well. There is a point of diminishing returns on additional investment. If you want to help make children safer, consider the above topics.

        If your objective is to help further normalize the lawful practice of keeping and bearing arms? There is certainly fertile ground to be found there.

        • Agreed. But when it comes to gun safety and children and such, I do think the NRA could be doing a better job making sure the “general public” KNOWS their contributions to firearms safety. Not to denigrate what Ms. Bond is doing but one of the biggest things the anti-gun folks use to sway people in the middle/on the fence is that the NRA is a terrible monster organization and cares nothing for the safety of the children! (cue ominous music from Frontline hit piece.)

          There will always be someone who isn’t yet educated on firearms safety so what Ms. Bond and others are trying to do is great, but if they are the only ones who gain visibility then they start looking like some “outside people coming to save the gun people from themselves”. Since they don’t/won’t talk about politics, we don’t actually know where they REALLY stand. Maybe they are pro-2A, but there have been enough liberals couching their agenda in “common sense” and “reasonable” and “safety” that we have a reason/right to be a little suspicious. What we need is not to allow new groups to do all our speaking for us. Let the NRA speak and make LOUD obvious education about gun safety so that no one has any excuse to think the NRA isn’t concerned about that, and let’s not muddy the waters wonder if Ms. Bond has an agenda or not beyond actual safety.

          Also co-signed on the other safety stuff. All that crap is way more dangerous to children when it comes to numbers of children actually harmed than firearms. So one wonders why there is so much attention on this one thing.

        • That was a ‘gotcha’ question. But ok. Meanwhile, please email me if you do have ideas about gun safety or I’m happy to talk with you about what we’re doing.

        • If you think he asked a “gotcha” question, why aren’t you answering it? Why do you want everyone to email you privately? Are you afraid you’ll slip up in public? I don’t know… I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but both from rereading your article, and reading a lot of the comments, and just in general the condescending title of the article as if nobody was talking about safety until you graced us with your presence… something feels off here. Maybe you are 100% sincere and not in any way trying to undermine gun rights or add more gun control legislation. Maybe you truly do have “apolitical” goals (whatever that means). But maybe you don’t. Given the high level of deceit that has come from the left as they continue to try to be more and more sophisticated and tricking people to join their side (since honesty: “we want to take the guns” gets them nowhere), there kind of now is a bar of trust you have to meet now. Your continued insistence that everybody email you privately and all your public relations friendly replies leave me a bit leery. Again, you could be totally innocent, but please understand you wouldn’t be the first person to pretend you aren’t trying to take away gun rights just so you can gain more support for a cause that will take away gun rights. I’m sure you’ll understand when I send my donations to the NRA (who has safety programs I would be contributing to) instead of to your group which could have any political agenda at all despite denial to the contrary.

      • I respectfully disagree with you calling it ‘political gibberish’, but let’s set that aside…

        Let’s not.

        “But let’s set that aside” is right out of the politician/PR flack playbook. It’s called a bridge, and it’s used to allow someone to evade a direct question and “bridge” to his/her talking points. Which, in Ms. Bond’s case, appear to be well-scripted so as to avoid scrutiny.

        Ms. Bond, you may very well have good intentions, and I sincerely hope you do. I also sincerely hope that your aim is to protect gun rights by building up an organization that appears reasonable and neutral, one that can attract the attention of the mainstream media because it is not “tainted” by an affiliated with the NRA or any of the other gun groups that have been widely labeled as extremist, paranoid and unreasonable. (I get that — it’s a smart move for anti-gun hysterics to use, labeling your opponent as a fringe/extremist group.)

        Perhaps you could “set aside” your talking points and noncommittal answers and respond directly to some of the questions and concerns TTAG’s members have posted. As a marketing professional, you ought to be very capable of making yourself understood and writing/speaking with clarity.

        Doing so would go a long way toward earning the trust of members of the gun community who have worked so long and hard on safety. Unlike, as others have noted, those who seek to ban guns but want nothing to do with measures that would (actually) increase safety.

        By the way, the title of your essay is “Let’s Shift the Topic to (Actual) Gun Safety.” So for starters, you could define what that means and clarify — specifically — how Evolve aims to achieve it.

        • I don’t think she can talk about that without us figuring out she’s not so apolitical after all. I’m 99% sure the ultimate end game is more “common sense gun laws”.

          Um yeah, no thanks.

  21. Look for a copy of the woman’s tweet about the Santa Barbara shooter. It’s typical leftist crap that we always hear — blame-shifting the criminal acts of an individual onto the gun industry.

    You’ll have to find a cached version because her Twitter timeline is only available to those who seek and are blessed with her approval to read it.

    • Better yet: send me an email and I will write you back or call. No conspiracy theory here. And if you are a social media wiz – or just have an interest in campaigns about gun safety – we are always looking for good content AND great ways to talk about it. Thank you.

      • If you have a message you feel passionate about getting out to people, why is your timeline on twitter privatized? That seems counter-intuitive to the objectives you claim.