The NRA and other gun lobbies have stated implicitly that gun owners are upstanding and respectable people, and greatly downplay any shootings other than those committed by violent criminals or gang members. As Wayne LaPierre famously said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Unfortunately, those “good guys with a gun” are responsible for a great many shootings, either out of anger, or due to accidents (like this guy who killed a child because he used his assault rifle as a “crutch”), or because they left their guns where others, like children, could get to them. We post on these incidents with children every day over at the Kid Shootings blog. Even people with conceal carry permits, who are raised on a pedestal by the gun lobby as supposedly well-trained and safe enough to be vigilante guards of our children in schools, are responsible for many murders.
But almost as stupid as leaving guns where kids can access them is when supposedly law-abiding gun owners get angry and shoot over trivial things.
Consider these recent cases:
- Shot to death over urination: 48-year old Paul Dart, Jr., and his family were rafting along the Meramec River in Crawford County, Missouri, when they needed to pull over to gravel bar to urinate and rest. That’s when the man who owned the shoreline, 59-year old James Crocker, came running up, angry about them urinating on his property (even though he doesn’t actually own the gravel bar or water way) and yelling at them to leave. An argument ensued. Crocker fired a shot in the ground and another in the air, and when Dart tried to calm the situation, Crocker shot him in the face, right in front of Dart’s wife and relatives. Dart quickly died from the wound. "It's my property, and I was going to protect it," Crocker told the cops.
- Shot at for turning around in a driveway: A couple and their five children were taking a scenic drive in rural, Hawkins County, Virginia. They got a little bit lost, hoping to find a backroads cutoff to their destination, and wound up on a narrow dirt road. When the road ran out, they realized they had to turn around, but the road was so narrow that they had to back up into a driveway. That’s when an elderly woman on the porch of a home there, Margie Rhea Ramey, opened fire with her .22 rifle, hitting the vehicle. “I hadn’t even begun to turn my wheels to pull in her driveway,” the father said. “I just put my vehicle in reverse, and just as quickly as I put it in reverse I heard her hollering and my little boy said, ‘does she got a gun’. About that time she started shooting.” Luckily, no one was injured.
- Shot to death over a cell phone: 19-year old Geovany Ponce-Reyes was waiting to play basketball at a park in Conroe, Texas, when another 19-year old, Jerome Faggin, tried to steal Geovany’s cell phone. Geovany put up a fight, so Faggin pulled out a gun and shot him dead, then fled the scene.
- Attempted murder/ suicide of children due to denial of food stamps: 38-year old Rachelle Grimmer had recently moved to San Antonio, Texas, but had been denied food stamps. So she went to the local welfare office with her two children, a boy and a girl, 10-year old Timothy and 12-year old Ramie. She started arguing with the welfare worker, then pulled out a gun. A standoff ensued, but then Grimmer shot her two children and then herself. She died at the scene. The two children are in “very critical” condition and unconscious.
- Shot to death about a fence: 71-year old Roy Sewell was mowing his lawn in Northport, Alabama, when he got into an argument with his 33-year old neighbor, about the chain-link fence that separates their properties. Both men were armed. The argument escalated, and the 33-year old neighbor shot Sewell to death. Both men had fired their weapons.
- Shot to death over a fenderbender: One hour before his 23rd birthday, recent college graduate Aya Nakano was driving in Oakland, California, on his way home after playing basketball, when he was hit from behind. He pulled over to the side of the road to exchange insurance information, but the driver of the other car pulled out a gun and shot Aya to death, then fled.
- Shot over a television: 17-year old Stephen Brian Raybon II and 21-year old William Christopher Dowling were at a home in Grand Cane, Louisiana, when they got into an argument over a TV. Dowling then removed himself from the argument and went to sit on the back porch, but Raybon grabbed a .40-caliber gun from a gun cabinet in the home and shot Dowling in the chest. Dowling is now in critical condition.
Notice that not one of these cases involved drugs, drug dealers, or, apparently, hardened criminals. Gee, none of these were “good guys” shooting “bad guys,” either.
These are just a handful of stories I’ve heard in just the last day, without even trying to search. There’s no shortage of such stories, of people shooting and killing each other over the stupidest of reasons.
Certainly, most gun owners are responsible people. And yet, in nearly every gun purchase, you don’t need a shred of safety or proficiency training to purchase a gun for home use, and little if any for conceal carry, either, in most states. And if a person is known to be mentally unstable or violent, yet hasn’t yet been adjudicated as mentally ill or arrested for a felony, then in most cases they can own as many guns as they want, no matter how much their neighbors and family fear them.
Until we change this, we can expect more and more of these murders over stupid things to continue.