What to do when presented with an education opportunity???


Ole Humpback
December 21, 2011, 06:59 PM

I'm not 100% sure if this belongs in General Gun Discussion or here, so move if needed.

I was supposed to meet a local state representative this morning for coffee and construction talk. He ended up falling ill this morning and not making it and due to the wonders of technology, I waited for about 15 minutes on him before I realized something wasn't right and went on to work.

During my wait, the group of people behind me was talking about how a guy with a muzzleloader accidentally shot & killed a girl from over a mile & a half away:


At first I paid no attention to the conversation as I could tell that getting involved in it was a bad idea. There were three men whom to me seemed to be fairly anti-gun and one elderly man who was anti-guns for hunting. It wasn't until the elderly fellow started saying that muzzleloaders shooting Armor Piercing ammo (I'll eat my hat if there is actually AP ammo for a BP gun of any kind) could shoot well over a mile and that if the bullet was a hollow point it would shoot right through a car at that range. This is when I decided to interject with fact.

I started by saying that there is no AP ammo for muzzleloaders and that most commercially avaliable bullets are not of sufficient weight & construction to penetrate steel plate past 150yds or so (yes I know this isn't 100% accurate, but its far closer to reality than what was being made out). I continued by stating that some cast bullets are of the construction & shape for 1+ mile shooting, but that most muzzleloaders avaliable are incapable of shooting that far effectively due to lack of energy both on velocity & KE. I then compared the muzzleloader to a standard 308 military rifle & a 45-70 BP rifle at 1000yds for trajectory purposes. I also made the point that long distance shooting means shooting where the target will be, not where it currently is to further show how fluke an accident this is.

The group of three then asked me if I owned a gun which I replied yes to. That scared all of them then they asked me if I would have done the same shooting my gun to clean it to which I said no. They asked why I wouldn't do it and I said that since I did not know where the bullet would land, I wouldn't shoot it. Then they asked me if I thought the guy in the article was reckless to which I answered it depends. I said that if he knew that he was going to be endangering someone's life by doing it then yes, if he had done it several times before and not hurt anyone (NOTE: I don't know why you would want to shoot your muzzleloader into the air to clean it, nor would I do it either) then no, but I also wasn't there and don't know everything that happened. To that they replied "Well the newspaper says this" to which I ended the discussion with "They say your uninformed if you don't read the newspaper and misinformed if you do". They were all of the opinion that this man needs to go to jail for murder/homicide/manslaughter for this freak accident.

In the spirit of learning and for the next time it happens, how could I have approached this better? I stuck to facts, but know that I didn't make a compelling argument for proper gun ownership & handling.

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December 21, 2011, 07:16 PM
You need to acknowledge that the loss of life due to this "accident" is indeed tragic. I DARE ANYONE to show me a firearms cleaning procedure that begins with "clear the weapon by discharging into the air."

That IS reckless, and that IS dangerous, and that should NEVER happen by ANYONE who owns and respects firearms. There is NO Place the blatant violation of the "Laws of gun handling." (I know they are "Rules." I believe in them so strongly, I consider them LAWS.)

It's hard to defend this kind of action. I don't know if I could even try, if I was in your situation. Depending on the slug and design, the ballistics of muzzle loaders is pretty impressive. A heavy sabot can do some damage at distance.

My thoughts are with the Amish family who lost their daughter. It is a TRAGEDY. I don't blame the men for feeling that some kind of charges should be pressed.

Of course we don't know the whole story. With today's media, we probably never will. I reserve the right to change my mind, but as it stands now, with the available information, I am too angered.

Ole Humpback
December 21, 2011, 07:32 PM
Don't get me wrong, I don't condone the actions of this man at all. It is a tragic loss of life by any standard and I'd be very upset if it were my niece that was killed by someone doing something like this. But at the same time, I understand we all have and will drop the ball big time at one point in life and I am reserving judgement until the investigations are over. Then when the facts are avaliable, I'll be able to better understand and think about this.

In general, I don't like seeing people asking for someone else's head on a platter when we all have screwed up big time before.

December 21, 2011, 08:40 PM
I understand that this is a somewhat different thread, but just in case you didn't see it, OP, here's the "main" thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=632154) on the topic of this mishap.

I don't like seeing people asking for someone else's head on a platter when we all have screwed up big time before.
IMO, it's not a matter of having screwed up. I've made my share of mistakes, believe me. But this guy may have broken the law, and if he did, he shouldn't be treated differently from someone who was driving drunk and killed someone in a car accident.

I don't know what Ohio state law says on the subject, and I'm not interested in looking it up. I'm willing to bet, though, that Ohio state law is at least similar to Arizona's on the subject, which says this:

[The Code for Negligent Homicide]:
ARS 13-1102.A:
A person commits negligent homicide if with criminal negligence the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child.

[The Definition Code]:
ARS 13-105.10.D:
"Criminal Negligence" means, with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

The definition of criminal negligence means a person must have drastically failed to adhere to a level of common sense and precaution that a reasonable person would execute in the given circumstances. IMO, shooting a gun into the air (or even at nothing at all, in a shot parallel to the Earth) is a drastic failure of a reasonable level of precaution. But that's something a jury would have to decide.

In Arizona, Negligent Homicide is a class 4 felony (scale 1-6, 1 being most severe, equatable to receiving the death penalty or consecutive life sentences in prison). Based on the information we have available, there's nothing wrong or unethical about saying he committed this felonious act. If everything happened as we understand, then he did it. It's a fact. I don't know if he'll be charged, and I'm not saying I think he deserves it. All I'm saying is a felonious crime was committed.

Prison time aside, I do believe he should forever lose his right to own firearms, as any other violent-crime felon would. I understand it was the mistake of a lifetime, but it wouldn't have happened if he had obeyed the four rules. Now a teenage girl is dead. There's no excuse for it.

December 21, 2011, 09:15 PM
When dealing with non-gunnies who get each other all whipped into a frenzy, I like to take the Socratic approach. Ask them questions that make them say aloud what they think. Often they'll reveal things to themselves that they hadn't even realized yet.
Careful use of this technique can help you steer the conversation without having to create a social divide between us and them.
It's important to remind people that firearm owners are just like everyone else with maybe one extra hobby or political interest. Finding common ground and building on it is how you get people to think and consider that the cartoon dipstick in camo with a rifle is as far from reality as it is.
People make mistakes. That's what I'd focus on with those guys. It's a hard sell, but if you want to interject into conversations, you have to bring some skills or it just turns into a shouting match or both sides stereotyping the other with no learning happening.

December 21, 2011, 10:10 PM
Never get into discussions about points of law unless you are a legal expert, we are competent to discuss whether the behavior was in compliance with the basic safety rules.

Interjecting facts into a conversation that doesn't involve us is always a case by case judgment call. If you think you can represent gun owners well by educating instead of criticizing the others then I'm all for it. Just remember not to get dragged into the areas of opinion and that you don't have sound knowledge.

Is it an ND or an AD? Is the shooting of another accidental or negligence? First the facts must be known.

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