Boneheads with Guns

This week, the National Rifle Association appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling that upholds Chicago’s ban on the ownership of handguns. A year ago, the court ruled that the District of Columbia couldn’t ban handgun ownership. The district, however, is a federal colony and the court’s ruling applied to federal law. The Chicago ban is state law and the Illinois appeals court ruled that state law can be narrower than federal law. (A federal court in San Francisco ruled the other way. It said Second Amendment rights couldn’t be abridged by state law.)

I support the Second Amendment, but I don’t think it is a carte blanche for owning assault rifles or armor-piercing bullets. I think there’s nothing wrong with background checks and cooling-off periods. Or, for that matter, with local handgun bans.

Why? Because I read the papers (or their on-line equivalents). Here are a couple items from Vermont and beyond.

- A 73-year-old retired college professor was shot to death as he sat eating dinner with his wife. The culprits – so far two have been charged – were boneheads with guns who set up their own back yard shooting range 750 feet from the professor’s home. The weapon that killed the prof was – you guessed it – an assault rifle that one of the men, Brad Lussier, fired several times without aiming.

For those of you who may have missed it, Brad Lussier decided to fire an assault weapon without aiming in a residential neighborhood, killing an innocent bystander and forcing his wife to watch her husband die before her eyes.

- In other local news, a 44-year-old man shot and killed his 18-year-old son while the two were hunting together. Apparently, Kevin Kadamus thought his son Jacob was a turkey and without checking to make sure what he was discharging his weapon at, he shot and killed his own son. If grief could trump stupidity, I’m sure Mr. Kadamus would try to go back and time and never touch a gun, but it doesn’t.

- Of course, we’re all well aware of the “cop killing cop” incident from New York City a few weeks back. Is that a gun story or racism story? Well, it’s both and it’s interesting to see how much more upset police get when they kill an innocent cop than they do when they kill an innocent citizen. (Of course, both the innocent dead cops and the innocent dead citizens tend to be black.)

- Near our nation’s capital, members of Maryland’s statewide SWAT team shot up a control center at a nuclear reactor. Granted, the SWATters were a half mile (2,500 feet) away from the site, as opposed to the Vermont boneheads, who were a mere 750 feet, but how hard is it – when siting a shooting range – to determine how far a bullet from said range might fly if it goes off course and what might it strike?

So, while I support the Second Amendment, I also support keeping guns out of the hands of children, criminals, lunatics and boneheads, although that last category is often hard to determine in advance.

And it is, to some extent, personal. Twenty-seven years ago this spring, a college classmate of mine was shot in the head as she sat by the Allegheny River on campus. A bonehead with a high-powered rifle was shooting at a gopher across the river and like a true bonehead, he didn’t heed the admonition to never shoot facing water. The bullet ricocheted and ended the life of a bright, vivacious young woman.

© Mark Floegel, 2009

One Comment

  1. Posted 6/11/2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I, too, support the Second Amendment (being from Texas, it is practically a legal requirement for state citizenship). I support it because I know that it is essential to equalizing the control we allow our government to have over us. In an emergency, with someone you don’t fully trust, you want to know you are protected from their nutball crazy ways if said ways should flare up and involve violence and endangerment. So, I get it from that perspective. I would prefer that our system of government could somehow make the civilians’ need for protection unnecessary. But, alas, I am not that kind of genius who can solve such giant world problems by myself.

    That being said, I, too, find myself flabbergasted by the BONEHEADS with guns that periodically make headlines for killing our friends, neighbors and relatives (and theirs). Then, of course, we have the actual depraved murderers, the kids and their accidents, the kids and their not-so-accidents, the angry lovers, the military-gone-whackos, the postmen-gone-postals, etc. Jeez! Makes a girl wanna melt her .45 and throw the hot metal goo at the nearest NRA representative. But then all the “sportsmen” would be very upset. You know, it used to be sporting to hunt human slaves through the swamps of Louisiana, too. Doesn’t make it right just because it is fun for someone (even lots of someones). (Just a whacko-leftist aside, there….moving on!)

    This subject hits close to home for me, too. An idiot, arrogant teenager killed one of my classmates during our senior year in high school when he (like your Allegheny River Bonehead)failed to heed a general rule of thumb with guns: don’t shoot them at surfaces that allow ricochet to occur–like sidewalks! So, as my classmate got out of a friend’s car, arriving at her own birthday party, the other passenger who had exited before her fired a handgun he discovered under the seat into the air. It didn’t go off. Then he pointed it at the sidewalk, pulling the trigger again and making a bang sound. It was quite louder than he expected and my classmate was instantly killed when the bullet ricocheted and passed through her aorta and out her back. I was “lucky” enough to receive a scholarship in her honor that same year when I graduated high school.

    The other classmate who was kidnapped, robbed and murdered by teenagers with guns while visiting a cousin in “the big city” (San Antonio) was not there to congratulate me.

    Keep writing, Mark. These things you say: they are important.

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