Car Accidents and Gun Accidents

Here’s the latest in gunsplaining. These comments were written in reply to the gun accident story I wrote about yesterday, in which a guy’s loaded gun fell out of his pants at Wal*Mart and injured a woman who was shopping with her newborn baby:

Except you’re forgetting about mens rea which means that if someone doesn’t have the intention to harm the in the case of an accident (also notice “accident” meaning except from guilt and “freak” meaning rare) then that person can’t be held criminally liable. That’s why you don’t get arrested if you rear end someone and they end up in the hospital.

And this one:

Once upon a time, criminal law had a requirement of mens rea — a “guilty mind”. Thus, accidents, without any intent to do harm, were not crimes. People who caused others to be injured or killed without intent were still civilly liable for the damage that they do, but they were not criminally liable. 

This is still true for automobile accidents, for example. But for some reason, people get all emotional when the object doing the damage is a gun, rather than a car. All common sense and proportionality goes right out the window, because of the irrational fear caused by the object in question.

And this:

Yeah there was literally no crime committed. Have none of you fucking fascists ever heard of Mens Rea? Now, should she desire, he should have to pay damages, but no jail time, and certainly no money to the god damned state.

And, finally, this:

the woman is probably not pressing charges. she probably realizes that it was an accident and no reason for the government to fuck this dudes life up.

Have you noticed a theme?

First of all, there’s a solid anti-government/anarchist overtone to the comments. I suppose if you don’t believe the government ought to exist, then you probably don’t want it regulating your guns or even getting involved when you shoot someone.

But what really stands out is the whole “Hey, oops, accidents happens and, as long as it’s an accident, it’s not a problem … just like when it comes to car accidents” angle.

When these comments started coming in one after another, I inquired over on Facebook whether someone could send me a link to the NRA talking points about Mens rea and comparing guns to cars so I could compare the wording.

In reply, my good friend Marcus welcomed the comparison between guns and cars:

Let’s make guns more like cars. You have to carry insurance at a cost of $1000/yr or more. You have to be licensed. Guns have to be titled and recorded with the state. Guns must have a conspicuous license number displayed on them, which must be renewed yearly at a cost of $100 or more. Guns have to have multiple redundant safety devices like seat belts and airbags. You need a key to operate your gun. Every aspect of gun production and sale would be heavily regulated. Guns would be recalled if they have defects. Guns should have a counter to show how many times it has been fired and that number has to be reflected on the title whenever a gun is transferred. We would have a new federal agency dedicated to gun safety and reducing gun deaths. You would have to present your gun periodically for inspections to make sure it is not a danger to the environment.

So, yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the gunsplainers and ammosexuals — especially the anarchists amongst them — really don’t want the rest of us to agree with them that gun ownership should be treated like car ownership.

Let Me Gunsplain That To You

In response to yesterday’s post about the shooting of John Crawford in an Ohio Wal*Mart, a patriotic American gun enthusiast has the following to say to me:

If only he wasn’t waving around a mock weapon in a store and refusing police orders to drop the weapon instead of lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place he might not have gotten shot. It’s tragic that someone lost their life because of a air soft gun, but this isn’t about race. Don’t even try to spew that bullcrap.

Here are the key pieces of information, as I see them:

1) Crawford, a black man who was shot to death by police, was holding an unloaded gun sold by the store in an area of the store where these guns are sold; at the time he was shot to death, he was on his cell phone.

2) The police were called by another customer because Crawford was holding a gun in the store and looked like he was going to rob the store or shoot someone. There don’t appear to have been other calls made to the police about Crawford.

3) Crawford told police that the gun “wasn’t real” before they shot him.

Now let’s name some instances in which white guys brought their own loaded rifles into local businesses and no one called the police or complained in any way (and thus the police didn’t arrive and shoot anyone to death).

You see, this is what “lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place” looks like:







This guy, however, could not walk around with an unloaded air rifle in a store that sells unloaded air rifles without getting shot to death by police:


Because the freedom to carry around a gun wherever and whenever you want is reserved for white people in this country.


Has anyone written anything yet about gunsplaining?

In my head, this would be the process by which men — always men, every single time — explain to me (or to you, of course) that each instance in which someone is accidentally shot by a loaded gun makes perfect sense from the perspective of gun owners and couldn’t possibly be avoided.

I propose the motto of the gunsplainer should be: “There’s always a risk to carrying a loaded gun but, you know, there’s a risk to everything. Is there a way to minimize this risk? I don’t care.”

It’s a long motto, admittedly. But I think it’s pretty accurate. And, anyhow, it’ll fit on a t-shirt a lot more cleanly than this slogan about how, just like loaded guns, lots of household items are also dangerous to kids:


I should start a blog dedicated entirely to gunsplaining.

I could find all the gunsplaining out there every time a five year old is shot and killed in his own home, every time a middle school security guard forgets a loaded weapon in the bathroom, every time someone loses a loaded gun at the movies or a restaurant, and every time a gun safety instructor shoots someone taking his class.

Needless to say, it’d all be unbelievably callous — “Sorry your kid died; sorry you got shot; sorry your ten year old found a loaded gun at school … but the most important thing is I can do what I want” — and it’d all revolve around the premise that there’s absolutely nothing that could possibly be done to prevent accidents.

Legislative gunsplaining:

If, as a Kentucky state legislator, you “accidentally” discharge your Ruger .380 semiauto handgun in the capitol just before the governor gives a speech there, you can react a few different ways. “Oops, I’m sorry” seems good. “I’m an idiot” is better. Rep. Leslie Combs went with “It happens.”

Combs, a Democrat, was apparently in the process of unloading her pistol in the capitol annex building, in advance of the state of the state address, when “it went off,” as they say. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But somehow a lot of people who discharge their weapons blame the damned mischievous hunk of metal for going off, all on its own.

Emphasis mine.

Gunsplaining 105: “Oh, and most gun packing is usually emblazed with ‘READ THE MANUAL BEFORE USE.’”

If that’s not caring and minimizing risk, I don’t know what is. I mean, the deadly weapon says right on the package to read the instructions, amiright?!?!