The United States is saturated with guns. We have a population of more than 300 million and there are nearly enough guns in this country for every child, woman, and man. Thankfully out of that 300 million, only a minority own guns (source). Unfortunately, among that minority exists a number of people who are irresponsible gun owners. Whether its improperly cleaning a gun, carrying a gun into a bar, shooting someone’s pet out of anger, shooting a spouse because they don’t perform housework, or shooting someone because your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice, many gun owners demonstrate a lack of responsible handling of firearms. Here are five recent examples:
Here is yet another case of a gun owner handling his firearm irresponsibly and causing the death of another person. This time it is 36-year-old Ronnie Howard of Macon, GA. His gun discharged while he was improperly cleaning it, resulting in the death of a 17-month-old baby:
A Macon man who’s in jail following the shooting death Thursday of a 17-month-old baby boy in west Bibb County is now facing 2nd degree murder.
Ronnie Howard, 36, was originally charged with reckless conduct and second degree cruelty to children. The reckless conduct charge was upgraded to murder Friday afternoon in the shooting death of Victor Carroll, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
Howard is the boyfriend of Brooke Carroll, the baby’s mother. Howard was cleaning a gun when it discharged hitting the baby in the face, a sheriff’s office news release states.
The couple drove the child to the Medical Center, Navicent Health where he was later pronounced dead.
Part of gun ownership should be mandatory classes on the proper way to clean a firearm. You’d think this would be common sense, but apparently some people don’t realize you should ensure the gun is unloaded before cleaning it. I’m not a gun owner (I loathe the damn things), and even I know that.
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The next story also involves a young victim of gun violence (thankfully the child is still alive)-a 2-year-old boy in Arizona who found his father’s loaded gun and accidentally shot himself in the face:
The firearm “was rolled up like a pillow,” in the master bedroom where the child was playing while his grandmother watched television and his aunt washed dishes, according to police.
The boy fired one round that struck him in the face and exited through his head, said Sergeant Shari Howard, a Peoria Police Department spokeswoman.
“All I can say is that he is very lucky to be alive right now,” said Howard, adding that part of the child’s skull was removed to alleviate swelling caused by the bullet.
The toddler was taken by ambulance to a local children’s hospital late on Thursday, near his home west of Phoenix. Detectives said his 7-year-old brother was also inside the home, and that the father was at work.
In a frantic 911 call released by police on Friday, the aunt told an emergency dispatcher she was in the kitchen when the weapon discharged.
“My baby nephew got shot in the face with a gun,” she said.
I’ve heard of (and read) many stories of parents who buy a gun to protect their family. Sadly, so many of them are unaware that the presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of a firearm homicide (and firearm suicide):
Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.
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In yet another story of a child finding a gun, an abandoned and loaded Glock was found by a youngster in Sen. John Boehner’s Capitol suite bathroom:
A child reportedly found a loaded Glock handgun in the bathroom suite of Republican House Speaker John Boehner in what is just the latest of a string of Capitol security missteps, Roll Call’s Hannah Hess reports.
But this is not an isolated incident. In January, a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail left a loaded gun wedged into the seat-cover dispenser in a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom. And in April, a janitor found a loaded Glock in plain sight while cleaning the Capitol Police headquarters.
Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, told Roll Call in an email that “[t]he Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters…Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee’s record, and other required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment.”
However, it is impossible to know how often such incidents have occurred, or how many security personnel have been punished for them, since the Capitol Police are not required to disclose such incidents to the public. Also unknown is how much Rep. Boehner or Sen. McConnell knew about these incidents, as spokespeople for both Republican leaders did not comment.
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Sometimes irresponsible gun owners harm themselves, rather than others. That doesn’t make them any less responsible, as this story out of South Bend, IN makes clear:
Police said an Elkhart man shot himself through the groin while trying to put a handgun in his waistband Tuesday afternoon in South Bend.
The 36-year-old man was visiting a home in the 300 block of Ewing Street about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. As he stood up and tried to put the gun in his waistband, it accidentally discharged, said Capt. Phil Trent, a South Bend police spokesman.
The bullet entered the man’s abdomen, exited through his groin and entered again in the left knee, Trent said. When police arrived, the man was conscious but bleeding heavily. He was taken to an area hospital and underwent surgery.
Trent said carrying a pistol in the waistband without a holster is always a risky move.
“That’s a really good way to lose your gun and have an accidental discharge and shoot yourself,” he said. “We really always recommend using a holster.”
Here is yet another gun owner who does not know how to properly carry a gun (or worse, he doesn’t care to carry his gun properly). I wonder-do prospective gun owners have to take any tests to ensure they have basic gun safety knowledge?
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In the intro to this post, I mentioned shooting someone bc your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice. You might be thinking I made that one up. If so, you’d be wrong:
Family and friends of a Hamilton man shot Saturday morning are hoping to raise enough money to replace the dog killed in his arms and to help with upcoming living expenses.
They all know that Joe Lewis may well owe his life to a pit bull he called Jackson.
“Anyone that knew Jackson knew that he was literally Joe’s best friend,” said Lewis’ brother, Mike.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, the 29-year-old Joe Lewis had just come home after a night working at the Rainbow Bar. Shortly after he arrived at the apartment house on Hamilton’s Second Street, he picked up his dog and carried it outside.
After having a toe removed, Jackson had a cast on one leg and wasn’t getting around very well on his own.
Earlier that night, Lewis had an odd altercation with his neighbor, Monte Hanson, at the Rainbow Bar. Court records said Hanson ordered a “red beer” and became angry after Lewis used Clamato juice instead of tomato juice in the drink.
Hanson was apparently upset over the change because it was contrary to his religion, Judaism, to drink Clamato juice. Court records said he told a neighbor later that he was going to retaliate and kill Lewis.
Your religion prohibits drinking Clamato juice, but apparently it says nothing about attempted murder. You really ought to reexamine your stupid ass beliefs.
Lewis’ brother said Jackson was still in Joe’s arms when bullets began to fly behind the apartment house.
Jackson was hit in the head by the first shot, Mike Lewis said. If the dog had not been there, the bullet likely would have struck Joe Lewis in the head.
Mike Lewis is certain that Jackson saved his brother’s life.
The second shot hit Joe Lewis in the ribs and exited out his back. Fortunately, it didn’t hit any vital organs.
“He’s doing all right now,” Mike Lewis said. “He’s just in a lot of pain is all. He’s staying strong. He’s out of the hospital.”
Lewis said his brother is really missing his best friend.
“He’s pretty broken up about his dog,” Lewis said. “Anyone who knows him knows he’s not your average animal guy. He takes his animals very, very seriously.”
With the help of family and friends, Mike Lewis has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise enough money to buy his brother a new dog and help meet some of the living expenses coming his way.
Joe Lewis cuts wood and tends bar for a living.
Once again, a gun in the hands of an irresponsible individual has brought tragedy to the life of another. Joe Lewis presented no threat to Monte Hanson. He wasn’t endangering the life of anyone. Yet Hanson felt it was within his rights to attempt to end Lewis’ life over religious beliefs. This is an example of one the many problems in the U.S. People feel that others need to respect and honor their religious beliefs. Moreover, many of these people feel that their religious beliefs are more important than the rights of others. While discussions in the media tend to center around marriage equality and the false notion that same-sex marriage affects the religious beliefs of others, this story is a reminder that people use their religion to justify other awful actions. Religious beliefs have been elevated to such an absurd degree that they’ve become more important than actual human persons. When that happens, the result is so often human suffering. I don’t have an issue with people holding beliefs that stem from a religion. I might (and do) think such beliefs are silly and contradict reality, but if you keep those beliefs to yourself, then hey, no harm no foul. But when you try to craft legislation around your beliefs, or you expect others to follow the tenets of your religion, or when you act in some way that harms others and use your religion as justification- then I have a problem.