Annals of Responsible Gun Ownership, Part (n)

To paraphrase how my co-religionists limn the Reconstructionist movement*….

…There is no god, and Darwin is his prophet:

A Michigan man fatally shot himself in the head while he was teaching his girlfriend gun safety, according to The Detroit Free Press.


Police said that the man, whose name was not released, had been trying to show his girlfriend gun safety with three pistols. He put the first two guns to his head and pulled the trigger. When the man pulled the trigger on the third pistol the gun went off.

In the least surprising contextual note in the history of stupidity,

The man’s girlfriend said he had been drinking throughout the day while he was showing her the guns. (Via TPM)

I don’t want to make light of the core of the story: someone’s son, lover, sibling — perhaps — and friend is dead before his time and for even less reason than usual.  My sympathy to all those burdened by this loss.

The only point I’ll draw from this stranger’s death is that guns are designed to deliver deadly force and they do.  Most folks have been known to such back one too many cold ones at least occasionally.  And that is one of the reasons why even the most responsible gun owners are so until they’re not…

…at which point, someone dies.

*The actual line goes, “There is no God and Mordecai Kaplan is his prophet,” but you kinda had to be there.

Image: Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Suicide, c. 1836.


65 replies
  1. 1
    J.Ty says:

    I thought ‘limn’ was on the no-no list in nonfiction prose this year.

    ETA: Suicide or no, there’s a damned good reason that handgun ownership is so highly correlated with being killed by a handgun.

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    Third time’s the charm?

  3. 3
    Suffern ACE says:

    Yes, I don’t wish to make light of the fact that he probably wasn’t teaching gun safety, but decided to kill himself in front of his girlfriend.

  4. 4
    Tom Levenson says:

    @J.Ty: I write with life and limn at stake, you know.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    trollhattan says:


    A different use for high-quality steel is fine set of wrenches. If, instead of a gun you spend your steel allowance on wrenches you can fix things, build things, not destroy them.

  7. 7
    J.Ty says:

    @Tom Levenson: See, now THAT reads more like a Will Rogers quip or a half-baked Ogden Nash punchline. Definitely doesn’t count as “nonfiction prose” IMHO.

  8. 8
    vhh says:

    Un cinglé de moins. (one less nutjob). Yes, that is cruel, these people have families. But better they should remove themselves from the gene pool before they shoot some innocent kid, like a Girl Scout selling cookies door to door who is mistaken for a burglar.

  9. 9
    balconesfault says:

    Maybe after some idiot aimed unloaded guns at his head and pulled the trigger twice, he invoked Stand Your Ground and shot the bastard first?

  10. 10
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    Possibly he was aiming to kill himself, but I don’t know about probably. I wouldn’t attribute to conscious intent what can be explained well enough by drunken stupidity.

  11. 11
    Mark A.R. Kleiman says:

    Why blame the gun and not the booze?

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    “Limn” is a fine word. It’s the shortest fifty-dollar word I know.

  13. 13
    mclaren says:

    Remember: if babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.

    An armed foetus is a responsible foetus…

  14. 14
    burnspbesq says:


    The Universe has a finite supply of mockery. Use it wisely. Don’t waste any.

  15. 15
    Mandalay says:

    I don’t want to make light of the core of the story: someone’s son, lover, sibling — perhaps — and friend is dead before his time and for even less reason than usual. My sympathy to all those burdened by this loss.

    Indeed. I’m so glad you said that. Too often some folks here appear to believe that any gun accident gives them license to gloat, or claim that natural selection is at work.

    ETA: And I see post #8 just proved my point.

  16. 16
    Keith P says:

    So I guess the government can take his guns now.

  17. 17
    burnspbesq says:


    I suppose they may be out there, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a woman with a gun implanted in her uterus for the use of a future fetus.

  18. 18
    burnspbesq says:

    @Keith P:

    If he is unmarried and died without a will, the guns most likely go to his parents, who I’m sure will be grateful.

  19. 19
    PurpleGirl says:

    I have friends who are members of a Reconstructionist congregation outside Baltimore. As it happens, a good percentage of Baltimore area science fiction fandom attend this congregation, indeed they helped found it.

  20. 20
    J.Ty says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s an excellent word, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen it so misused in the last few years (NOTE: this post is not one of those cases, it’s a great example of how to actually) that I had the impression that it really was on the no-no list among editors of prose nonfiction works.

    On topic, though, what a shitty situation for all involved in that. I’m personally of the opinion that we should, I dunno, outlaw ownership of a device that exists specifically for both its portability and its ability to kill something 10-200 feet away in one shot, which describes pretty much just the handgun and the atlatl. But the atlatl’s ammo is a lot bigger and also already illegal. Seems that we’ve carved out a niche for handguns, somehow. HMM.


  21. 21
    zoot says:

    is dead before his time

    huh? why would you think that? the guy was obviously so incredibly stupid its a wonder he made it as long as he did.

  22. 22
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    There was also the guy in Indiana who shot himself (fatally) in the chest while selling his gun to a relative. If more people respected handguns as the lethal tools they are, we’d read fewer stories like these.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I’m not even sure you can draw a clean line between those things. Where does drunk and reckless with ones life leave off and actively suicidal pick up?

  24. 24
    burnspbesq says:

    @Mark A.R. Kleiman:

    Trying to remember the last time I read of a drunk dying of a self-inflicted knife wound. Coming up empty.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mark A.R. Kleiman:

    Why blame the gun and not the booze?

    Being drunk didn’t kill him; the bullet in his brain did that. The gun is clearly more closely related to the cause of death than the booze.

  26. 26
    PurpleGirl says:

    @burnspbesq: In this vein: booze will kill you slowly while it destroys your body but it won’t blow a hole in your head or body, nor create a knife wound. (I was about to point this out and you beat me to it.)

    ETA: Yes, there are situations where drinking A LOT of booze quickly will kill you. But again, booze won’t blow a hole in your body.

  27. 27
    NotMax says:


    there are situations where drinking A LOT of booze quickly will kill you.

    Different interaction but no less lethal can be doing the same with water.

  28. 28
    The Pale Scot says:

    Any indication that Algebra was involved?

  29. 29
    Cervantes says:


    Too often some folks here appear to believe that any gun accident gives them license to gloat, or claim that natural selection is at work.

    Whatever you do, just don’t point out that Darwin himself was a bit of a “gun nut.”

    It seems to inconvenience people who make these jokes.

  30. 30
    Amir Khalid says:

    A sensible regime for legal gun ownership would involve a lot of fairly obvious stuff: limits on what kinds of guns private citizens may own and where they may carry them, mandatory safety training, strict (and strictly enforced) laws penalising gun owners for any crimes mishaps involving their guns, periodic safety inspections with criminal penalties for any violations (including confiscation of firearms), among ther things. I gather from the time I’ve spent here that much of this is not politically doable.

  31. 31
    Keith P says:

    @burnspbesq: That was a reference to “The gubmit can take my guns over my dead body.”

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    This is the central problem with the gun fetishists…these deadly tools are toys to them. They do not treat them with respect, they do not behave responsibly, they are reckless and cavalier. They leave them lying around, loaded, and then wonder why their four year old shoots their two year old. Four year old probably picked up the toy aspect from his gunnut dad.

    They’re not “responsible gun owners.” They demonstrate it all the time.

  33. 33
    Mandalay says:

    Just to put things in perspective:
    Gun owners: In 2010, unintentional firearm shootings caused the deaths of 606 people.
    Drunk drivers: “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 32,367 people died in traffic crashes in 2011 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 9,878 people who were killed in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). Among the people killed in these drunk driving crashes, 66% were drivers (6,507)”

    So drunk drivers kill about fifteen times more people than irresponsible gun owners. I would heartily support any measures that restricted gun ownership, but drunk driving is a more important issue to address, and one that is more feasible politically.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Liability insurance needs to be made mandatory, too.

    This will of course never happen, because it will cost a lot to obtain it, because the numbers are not on the side of the gun fetishists. They refuse to be held responsible for their actions.

    The NRA will of course fight it on behalf of their merchant of death masters, because requiring liability insurance will silence the merchants’ cash registers.

  35. 35
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Roughly 30,000 gun deaths per year.

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:


    So drunk drivers kill about fifteen times more people than irresponsible gun owners.

    Only if you restrict the definition of “irresponsible” to those who act negligently; if you include those who kill people maliciously, gun control looks a lot more important.

  37. 37
    amk says:

    @Mark A.R. Kleiman: Ummm, because it’s the gun that killed him and not the booze? #clueless

  38. 38
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Being drunk didn’t kill him; the bullet in his brain did that. The gun is clearly more closely related to the cause of death than the booze.

    It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Surely it was the combination of alcohol and guns that led to his death. Debating which component was more significant leads nowhere.

  39. 39
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    …if you include those who kill people maliciously

    You have the numbers for that?

  40. 40

    Should we let guns drink then? They did get the most important amendment.

  41. 41
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mandalay: Have you ever heard of a group named MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)? Drunk driving is a problem we, as a society, have been working on for years. States have continually reduced the allowed blood alcohol level. They have increased the penalties for drunk driving and for killing someone in an accident (negligent homicide is often the charge). We could probably tighten laws further or faster, but we haven’t ignored it.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    On the other hand, we’ve been pointedly ignoring mass killings of schoolchildren because freedumb.

  43. 43
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Agree, mass killings of all kinds. Part of the whole gun problem. That’s because of the gun culture that we are decrying in this thread.

  44. 44
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay: I think the big difference here is that nobody has ever claimed that drunk driving keeps you safe.

    Also, people don’t talk about their constitutional right to do it.

  45. 45
    piratedan says:

    @ranchandsyrup: we’ll be in greater trouble if the guns decide to unionize…..

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    A quick look at CDC says that for 2010 (the most recent year for which they have complete numbers) there were 11,078 gun homicides and 19,392 gun suicides. The total number of gun deaths (31,672, also includes accidents, unknown, and “legal intervention”) is about the same as the total number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents (33,687, almost all accident or undetermined). FWIW, CDC mentions a total of 25,692 people dying from directly alcohol related causes, i.e. acute alcohol poisoning and alcohol induced diseases, but not alcohol-induced accidents or crimes.

  47. 47
    Mandalay says:

    @PurpleGirl: Sure I have heard of MADD, and I certainly did not claim that the issue has been ignored. In fact almost every year deaths due to drunk driving decrease compared to the previous year, and there is a strong downward trend over time.

    But there were still 9,878 deaths arising from drunk driving in 2011. Surely more could be done to lower that number?

  48. 48
    Ian says:

    That would be one ugly kicking session

  49. 49
    Ian says:

    You should try Bacardi 151

  50. 50
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore: Right, but I was specifically asking about the numbers for “those who kill people maliciously”. I had never seen that phrasing until you used it.

    What are those numbers, and what defines a “malicious” death?

    Is a suicide a malicious death? Is it a malicious death if you shoot and kill a burglar? Did Michael Dunn create a “malicious death”, given that he was found not guilty? I guess I just don’t understand what constitutes “killing maliciously”.

  51. 51
    Dolly Llama says:

    @Mandalay: Dumb as hell analogy, sorry, on many levels. Not trying to be an asshole. But that’s not just apples and oranges, it’s apples and dumptrucks.

  52. 52
    Mandalay says:

    @Dolly Llama:

    Not trying to be an asshole.

    And yet you still succeeded. Well done!

  53. 53
    gian says:


    driving is regulated, and people go to jail for dui without killing anyone, so your attempt to troll the argument to prohibition isn’t going to work

    let me flip it around for you, since we can’t stop all DUIs we should make DUI legal.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:


    What are those numbers, and what defines a “malicious” death?

    Well, let’s go with gun homicides, which Roger already quoted as 11,078 for 2010.

    Your drunk driving statistic for 2011 is 9,878.

    Which of those two numbers is larger?

  55. 55
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ian: Why not just move right on to kerosene? They’re pretty much the same thing.

  56. 56
    wmd says:

    When I was learning gun safety the first thing I learned is treat every gun as if it is loaded.
    Second is never point a gun at something you aren’t prepared to have a bullet hit.

    He clearly wasn’t following either of these.

  57. 57
    Mandalay says:


    so your attempt to troll the argument to prohibition

    Say what? I think you’re the one doing the trolling.

  58. 58
    gian says:


    ask yourself where you want your argument to go.

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Math is hard.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Erm, your facts are uncoordinated.

    Michael Dunn was not acquitted in the death of Jason Davis. On that count of the indictment, the jury could not reach a verdict and it was ruled a mistrial.

    Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder, when he sprayed the SUV driving away with bullets.

    These are pretty fucking basic facts that you have no command of. Why should anyone take you seriously about anything in the future?

  61. 61
    Cassidy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: So is liberaltatian contrarianism.

  62. 62
    feebog says:

    Interesting piece on MSNBC last night about a 13 year old boy trying to buy beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets in different venues. All the clerks laughed at him and told him he wasn’t old enough. Then they followed him to a local gun show where he purchased, for cash, a 22 rifle from a private seller. No background check, no waiting period, and no concern on the sellers part that the boy was only 13. We have a very sick culture when a 13 year old kid can stroll into a gun show and buy a lethal weapon, but is not even near old enough to legally drive a car.

  63. 63
    brantl says:

    @Mark A.R. Kleiman: The booze didn’t make a hole in his head, firstly.

  64. 64
    JustRuss says:


    driving is regulated,

    Indeed. And alcohol is heavily regulated too. It’s almost as if we as a society recognize that both of these can be dangerous and do what we can to mitigate the danger without prohibiting people from enjoying them

    For some reason, doing the same with guns is impossible.

  65. 65
    Cervantes says:


    For some reason, doing the same with guns is impossible.

    The reasons seem complicated and bizarre.

    The pretext is the Second Amendment.

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