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I know we have all discussed this too many times, but I am really tired of this serious mistake. Today we have yet another example of a headline that reinforces the serious gun problem we have in this country.  TPM just posted a story regarding a young pregnant  woman who was killed by a gun shot to the head. The headline is Pregnant Woman Dies in Accidental Shooting. You may see the piece here:

 http://talkingpointsmemo.com/...

No, no she did not die from an accidental shot to her head. She died, like hundreds of thousands before her from a grossly negligent act by a person in possession of a gun, period.

Criminal negligence is generally defined as an act that with respect to circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of the conduct when they ought to be aware of a substantial risk exists and the failure to perceive the risk constitutes a gross deviation from the care an ordinary person would exercise.

So when you leave a loaded gun near a 3 year old you are criminally negligent. When you are such an asshole that you are showing someone your loaded. 22 (why? Are you proud of a .22?) You are criminally negligent.

These people should never be legally able to touch a gun again and the way to do that is charge them and convict them of a felony. Those decisions are not up to us and so we must rely on local law enforcement.

What we can do is every time we see a shooting and the word accident we can complain. Complain to your local editor, TV station manager and the editors of online sites. The only way to change this behavior is to change the perception that these are accidents. Take a page from MADD, they changed the perception of what was acceptable.

I am sorry TPM but you need to correct your head line, this was not an accident.

UPDATE:

Mr. Marshall at TPM actually responded which shows that good editors look at what they are doing. I must say that my original note to him was somewhat curt and did not state a cogent argument, just a complaint.

Mr. Marshall reponded by saying "I genuinely don't mean any disrespect here. But I think you're either not respecting the definition of the word or allowing your moral outrage, which I share, to allow you to distort the language. An "accident" is an unfortunate event that happens unintentionally. It's a word that turns on intent. As far as we understand the facts of this case (that could change of course), the shooter had no intention of shooting the women. In other words, it was accidental. Reckless, negligence, possibly criminally culpable, sure. But yes, it is an accidental shooting, assuming the facts are as reported.

Your take on this seems to be rooted in the idea that calling it an 'accident' means is a blameless event, something that happened totally unpredictably and for which no one is responsible. But it simply doesn't mean that. 'Accident' simply turns on intention."

I then responded to Mr. Marshall,
"I do not mean to be argumentative but under Texas law (which obviously may not be the same in other stated) the distinction in determining if a homicide is criminal is not whether "the act is intentional or unintentional, but whether the act is voluntary or involuntary. A person may act unintentionally and still commit a criminal offense, provided he acts with knowledge, recklessness or negligence." See Womble v. State, 618 SW2nd 59.

A person commits criminal homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence causes the death of an individual. 19.01 Texas Penal Code.

To me accident is a concept of civil law not criminal law. Your car wreck is an accident that has civil ramifications, but if thevdriver of the car was intoxicated then we are in the realm of criminal law. When you display a loaded revolver and discharge that gun to me that is an act with such risk that the "failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise ".

In Texas deadly conduct includes a presumption under the law if you "knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded ". 22.05 Texas Pen Code.

Thank you for reading my email. I would love you reviewing your headlines in these kind of cases because I really believe it would help change perceptions."

I have updated this to show that we really need to open the debate. I believe that these types of conversations can change minds. When you spill a glass of milk that is an accident. When you handle a test tube full of a deadly pathogen the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise has changed because they don't want to infect themselves or others. A gun is no different.

UPDATE #2

Mr. Marshall has now addressed our exchange with anpiece regarding clarity of language which may be found here

 http://talkingpointsmemo.com/...

He argues that language must be clear and basically not used to change behavior by the distortion of the words.

I basically agree however I would suggest that once a young woman is dead we have then entered the area of the law where words have very specific meaning. Our everyday use of words such as negligence and accident are defined with particularity through statute and judicial decisions.  

A revolver discharging only occurs through a voluntary act (cocking & pulling the trigger) and under Texas law it doesn't matter whether the act was intentional or not it is criminal. A jury may determine that the act wasn't a deviation from the standard of care an ordinary person would have exercised.

As to editors it is time to quit using terms that absolve the actor from criminal responsibility. The perfect title "Pregnant Woman Killed by Shot to the Head". Let law enforcement decide whether itbis a civil "accident" or criminal violation.

Originally posted to txdoubledd on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 02:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No words. (7+ / 0-)

    People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within. - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

    by penelope pnortney on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 02:47:18 PM PDT

  •  There Was Definitely Negligence (8+ / 0-)

    A revolver is considerably more difficult to get an accidental discharge from than a semi-automatic because of the mechanical function. It either has to be manually cocked OR a fairly stiff trigger pull is required.

    I wonder who actually had the gun.

    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by The Baculum King on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 02:57:35 PM PDT

    •  Good observation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, happy camper

      its also much harder with single action revolvers to confirm the gun is unloaded.  

      For those of you who have never handled a revolver, there are two types:  Single action and double action.  Single action revolvers have a hammer than must be manually pulled back to fire.  They also tend to have a loading port that cartridges are fed though into the cylinder.  As a result its a bit harder to confirm the cylinder is empty as compared to a double action gun.  Double action revolvers have cylinders that swing out.  Its very easy and fast to safety check one.  Hit the cylinder release and swing it all the way out.  If there are any cartridges, hit the ejection plunger.  Snap the cylinder closed (do not flick it shut as that can bend pieces and cause things to no longer line up correctly).

      Sounds like a Rule #1, 2, and 3 violation:  All guns are always loaded.  Never point it at anything you are not willing to destroy.  Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.  The only one he didn't break is to be aware of the target and what is beyond it.  

      I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

      by DavidMS on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 07:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "it (the gun) accidentally fired (15+ / 0-)

    and shot Hoover in the head."

    NO. The gun did not fire itself. Some idiot pulled the trigger and I believe that is called manslaughter.

    Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth - Mike Tyson

    by hnichols on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:04:07 PM PDT

  •  You are absolutely correct. (15+ / 0-)

    A gun doesn't "accidentally" shoot or kill someone.

    It has to be loaded and cocked and a person's finger has to be on the trigger.

    It's criminally negligent homicide.

    A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

    by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:07:08 PM PDT

  •  There Should Be A Murder Investigation (5+ / 0-)

    The story said "revolver" but that's probably sloppy writing. Far more likely it was an automatic, which in the lower calibers don't have an exposed hammer to indicate it's fully cocked with a round left in the chamber after ejecting the magazine.  If it were an accident.  If it's really a revolver, the odds of murder are much much higher. And the odds of killing an adult with a 22 pistol without aiming are less than 50/50.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:10:36 PM PDT

    •  Head shot (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bernardpliers, hnichols, a2nite

      Even with a .22 can be deadly obviously but I understand your point.

      Let me clear regardless whether it is an automatic or revolver it is a homicide.  That doesn't mean it is a murderer under the law it can be negligent homicide or even deadly conduct but it isn't an accident if it is negligence that is a gross deviation from reasonable care.

      •  Lethality (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gwennedd, DavidMS

        A 22 pistol round hitting the upper or lower jaw won't reach the brain.  It has to hit the area  from the bottom of the eye socket up to the hairline.  This is generally true for calibers up .32, and even then a wound may not be fatal (James Brady).  A friend saw someone pull a .22 on a cop and shoot him in the forehead.  The cop drew his revolver and shot the guy six times through the liver.  The cop had the .22 removed from his forehead under the skin, the perp died a few days later. But usually to kill an adult with one round from a 22 pistol it takes some skill or luck, which makes me suspicious of this guy.  

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:04:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yup. No question. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allensl

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:42:17 PM PDT

  •  Tipped & reced (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allensl

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:13:33 PM PDT

  •  Picking up a deadly weapon and ducking (10+ / 0-)

    responsibility for a deadly outcome is wrong and wrong on every level.

    Child forgotten in car? -- Use open source E-Z Baby Saver -- Andrew Pelham, 11yo inventor E-Z Baby Saver

    by 88kathy on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:31:28 PM PDT

  •  I believe we have many more murders (5+ / 0-)

    and far fewer suicides and accidents.

    Law enforcement is overwhelmed by all the carnage, and dead folks don't talk.

  •  Need to know more. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    Cleaning a gun can cause a discharge if you are stupid enough to have it loaded.  Tripping over a root can cause an accidental discharge and then the all too often shooting at a deer and it turns out to be a human. All of the facts are necessary befor doing a murder investigation or charging someone with a felony.

    •  If loaded and cocked (0+ / 0-)

      Yes and if you are carrying a loaded and cocked revolver you better be looking for an intruder at night and as far as I am concerned otherwise in addition to being an idiot you really haven't exercised proper control.

  •  there was a post just yesterday discussing the (5+ / 0-)

    very issues that you have been thinking about.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    I'd direct your attention to the bolded headings Knowingly, Recklessly, and Negligently.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:55:30 PM PDT

    •  Thank You (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, Joy of Fishes

      I hadn't seen his piece. I think one difference in Texas is that the question is only whether the act was voluntary to reach criminally negligent homicide. What you intended is not the issue.

      I just don't think editors need to comment on anything other than she was shot in the head. Leave out accident and I am tine.

      •  shot in head leads me to think intentional. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, Sandino

        We say accident all the time when in almost all cases it's negligence, it's just a manner of speaking.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:35:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I feel Josh is correct (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon

    These situations are often correctly called "accidents" . . . but that shouldn't stop vigorous prosecutions for what is also gross negligence and/or reckless endangerment from going forward.

    Yes, people should be prosecuted for these stupid acts, IMHO - even if they knew or were related to the victims.

    If a woman in Florida gets zealously prosecuted for firing warning shots above her head to warn off an abusive ex-husband, then consistency demands investigating and building cases against anyone who brought firearms into social situations where people actually got hurt and/or killed, I feel.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:09:35 PM PDT

    •  Shot at ceiling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      Is a self defense issue. All Josh needs to do in my opinion is leave out the word accident from the headline. Once you load and coco a revolver you better be doing it because you are in trouble not to show someone your cheap Ase. 22.

      My shotgun is laded but once I rack a round into it the sound alone indicates I am ready to use the weapon and better use it properly.

      •  He doesn't need to leave it out, because this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BMScott

        situation does fit the definition of a type of accident.  So, he's being reasonably responsible and I think you are working too hard on that single word.

        As I mentioned - as have others, apparently - being accidental doesn't make someone any less guilty of gross negligence and reckless endangerment, leading to forms of manslaughter, etc.

        I think the main issue is that some people stop at the word "accident" and do a Family Circus, "Not Me!" connection when it comes to assigning blame for the firearm's discharge.  This is due to cultural numbness and general acceptance that sociopolitical libertarians see 2nd Amendment gun ownership allowance as someone equating to "guns are ordinary, everyday objects," often completely losing a sense of what they actually represent.

        Those bit of cultural softness goes far beyond a single word and gets at the notion that some things need to fundamentally change over time:

        (1) Authorities need to consistently prosecute people when these "accident" situations occur.  Leave a kid in your car while you rush into a building for a job interview?  Get prosecuted.  Discharge a firearm as a warning against an attacker?  Get prosecuted.  Your personal firearm kills someone because you were showing it off?  Oh, well, that's a no-fault accident.  No: it's an accident with an at-fault party, and should be treated as such.  We can do it for car accidents, so we can certainly do so for gun accidents.

        (2) Public campaigns against the NRA fear-mongering and freedumb "2nd Amendment is the primary Amendment, with no reasonable limits" gun-extremists should inject common reason back into Main Street perceptions.  It should be highly public, fearless and consistent: all people should treat guns as radioactive tools.  That is, guns should only be taken out of protected environments when absolutely needed, and always treated as highly dangerous objects to everyone in their vicinity when doing so.

        The word "accident" is not an actual problem, IMHO.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:10:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This was the same argument that victims of DWI ... (9+ / 0-)

    This was the same argument that victims of DWI accidents used to get laws changed. And after years of pressure, now the accident that occurs while driving drunk is not treated as an accident. The laws need to be changed in order to treat gun accidents as criminal acts..

  •  I agree, reporters should just report the facts. (7+ / 0-)
    "Pregnant Woman Killed by Shot to the Head". Let law enforcement decide whether it is a civil "accident" or criminal violation.
    No need to editorialize.

    Severely Socialist 47283

    by ichibon on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:45:48 PM PDT

  •  I'm with TPM (0+ / 0-)


    TPM made a perfectly acceptable choice regarding the language that they used in their piece, and they argued their use effectively.   It's not the language that you would have used, and that's OK, because you didn't write it.    The fact that you demonstrated such an interest in their post shows that they are doing a pretty fine job in writing interesting material.    You may like to use the language differently in your own writing to highlight your concerns, such as in this diary.   And, that's a fine use of the English language as well, and the best place to say it the way you want it to be said.

    There's a lesson in this incident about choosing your friends wisely, and making wise choices about what activities you choose to participate in.    When my best friend's husband got out his gun to show us after a few beers, I told him he should put it away before someone got shot, and when he chose to continue handling the gun, I left.  Fortunately, no one was shot on that occasion.   Reading about this incident, I am glad that I made the choice that I did on that occasion.  

    There were opportunities to prevent this tragedy, if the gentleman had exercised better judgment about showing off his guns, and if the lady had made the choice not to participate in the gun demonstration.

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