This is a nasty, dirty, shitty story, one of the absolute worst I’ve heard of in some time, but if we don’t dig into it at least a little bit, we’ll just paper over it and no one will do the hard work of learning anything.
What happened was that Veronica Rutledge left her handgun in her purse where her toddler son could get to it. Her son got to it and shot Veronica in the head, killing her. The details are in the link.
The family is, for all intents and purposes, ruined. I don’t know how you come back from that. I pray God that they can find comfort in the fullness of time.
Like so many terrible things, it’s bad that it happened, but worse if we don’t learn anything. As part of that process, take a look at this story; does it ring any bells? A 9-year-old girl was handed a weapon she couldn’t handle, and as a result her firearms instructor is dead. Another ruined family.
It’s a mistake to call these "accidental" shootings. Any time a bullet goes where it isn’t supposed to, it’s because the responsible party was negligent in handling the weapon. Neither a 9-year-old nor a 2-year-old are responsible parties. So the responsibility, unfortunately, falls on the victims in these cases. There are no accidental discharges, only negligent ones.
So how do we learn from this? What can we take away?
With weapons, familiarity doesn’t breed so much contempt as it does casualness. This is problematic. If you’re going to take on the burden of carrying a weapon (which is your God-given, inalienable right), you have to include the whole raft of responsibilities along with it. It has to be something you think about. You have to cultivate mindfulness in its presence, because once it turns into just another accessory, you’ve put one foot on the path to negligence.
Hand-flapping about blaming the victim won’t prevent this from happening again, nor will renewed cries for harsher gun laws. It’s absolutely awful that Veronica Rutledge’s name is in the public eye now. The only good that can come of it is increased mindfulness: a gun owner’s most valuable tool.
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