TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day (IGOTD) series highlights bad ballistic behavior amongst firearm owners. Oft times it’s not pretty. Gun owners screw up and people die. I created the category for three main reasons. First, to warn the ever-increasing legions of newbies about the dangers of irresponsible gun storage and handling. Second, to remind experienced gun owners that complacency kills. And third, to show the gun grabbers and firearms fence straddlers that the gun rights community has a realistic sense of personal and communal responsibility. That we are not afraid to face the truth about guns. All that said, if you have a negligent discharge, STFU.
The moment a negligent discharge comes to the police’s attention, you’re facing criminal charges. And the possibility of civil liability. It doesn’t matter if the gun’s muzzle was pointed in a safe direction and the bullet ended its inadvertent journey without incident. It doesn’t matter if the police say you’re not in trouble (in an attempt to elicit information). You are.
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. The police are not your friend. The DA is not your friend. When the cops come a knocking, you have one friend and one friend alone: your lawyer. He or she is the only person who can and will protect you from powerful people who don’t give a rat’s ass about your rights or happiness. People who are ready, willing and able sacrifice your family’s future to advance their career.
Say nothing to the police. Call your lawyer. If you must, go with “I am exercising my right to remain silent. I will make an official statement after I’ve spoken with my lawyer.”
By the same token, after an ND, don’t let the police into your house or property (even “for a quick chat”). Not without a warrant. They will be searching your premises for evidence to use against you: improperly stored guns, “excessive ammo,” alcohol, etc. If the cops threaten you with arrest, let them arrest you. Call your lawyer. STFU.
Don’t get me wrong: you need to take responsibility for the actions or inactions that led to the ND. But HOW and WHEN you do that could mean the difference between keeping your gun rights (to protect yourself and your family) and losing your gun rights forever. The difference between having enough money to send your kids to college and losing everything in a civil lawsuit.
Spilling your guts to all and sundry after a negligent discharge is a supremely selfish act stemming from a desire to shed the [perfectly understandable] burden of guilt and remorse. Remember: there’s a time and a place for everything. Your lawyer will let you know how to make amends. Meanwhile, again, STFU.