December 06, 2005

Darwin, Ignorance, and the NFA

via USA Today:

Pen gun accident kills budding rap singer

Steven Zorn had put the pen gun to his head and clicked before, apparently thinking it was jammed and would not work.

But on the third try, the tiny silver pistol went off as the 22-year-old budding rap artist was drinking to celebrate an impending record deal. He died at a hospital.

The Nov. 18 shooting at Zorn's home in this rural village of 2,000, about 50 miles northeast of Dayton, is believed to have been accidental, according to family, friends and law enforcement officials.

"Steven had a career and his dreams all ahead of him," said Zorn's mother, Lisa McCoy-Horn. She said she wants lawmakers to outlaw pen guns, which are small-caliber, single-shot weapons that resemble pens.

Let's parse this tragedy, shall we? First, the headline:

Pen gun accident kills budding rap singer

When you put the barrel of a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger three times... well, it isn't an accident. It is stupid. It is a tragic waste of a promising life. But it is no accident when a product works as designed.

Let's read something else as well; the part that tells us why the media really cares:

"Steven had a career and his dreams all ahead of him," said Zorn's mother, Lisa McCoy-Horn. She said she wants lawmakers to outlaw pen guns, which are small-caliber, single-shot weapons that resemble pens. [my bold]

That sounds entirely reasonable.

So reasonable, in fact, that seventy-one years ago Congress passed the National Firearms Act of 1934, which specifically mentions weapons such as pen guns in the classification of "any other weapon" (AOW), and makes them as highly-restricted by the law as machine guns, bazookas, and land mines.

Pen guns are among the most restricted weapons in the country.

It is doubtful, very doubtful, that Steven Dorn shot himself with a legal weapon that is as rare and restricted as anti-tank rifles. Had he been arrested with it on the street, he could have faced the federal felony charges of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Steven Zorn shot himself while drunk, after multiple attempts, with what in all likelihood was a highly illegal weapon.

As tragic as this death is, the ignorance displayed by both the media and law enforcement officers regarding this case is a tragedy all its own.

Crime Scene KC
quotes Kansas City Police Capt. Rich Lockhart:

"We get officer safety bulletins on them periodically when we see them, just to remind officers that they are out there," Lockhart said. Are they legal? "It's no different from a handgun or any other kind of gun like that," he said. "It's a firearm, so if it's concealed you have to have a permit in Missouri to have a concealed firearm, and you have to be of age."

Greg Reeves who writes Crime Scene KC, even links to a pen gun for sale on Guns America in an attempt to establish just how easy they are to get.

Perhaps he should have read the fine print and explained what it means when an item such as this is restricted as "Class III weapons & are classified as AOW."

Class III AOW weapons are very "different from a handgun or any other kind of gun like that." That the police and the journalists covering them are ignorant of the law scares me, and it should scare you, too.

The Dayton Daily News ran a crusading anti-gun story about these firearms, as did CBS News, the Star-Tribune, among others who unquestioningly ran the Associate Press feed version of this story.

It's too bad someone couldn't waste a few minutes on Google discovering that legally made and sold pen guns are about as common as legal anti-tank rifles on the streets of America. Of course, you wouldn't want to spoil a good tragedy, especially if it serves your political agenda.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 6, 2005 10:03 PM | TrackBack

The commentary states, "She said she wants lawmakers to outlaw pen guns,..." The real message is, "She said she wants lawmakers to out law guns,..."

Remember, to these people, facts are disposable and shall not get in the way of either the story or the intended message.

Great take-down on this piece, Bob.

Posted by: Old Soldier at December 7, 2005 06:43 AM

Also I love how the whole focus is on the fiction that the GUN killed him. Does it really matter if it was a pen gun or not? I mean, if he put a flintlock musket to his head and pulled the trigger would the outcome have been different?

Posted by: Tony B at December 7, 2005 11:24 AM

That's what he gets for trying to play Russian Roulette with a single shot pistol. If it had worked as advertised and fired on the first pull, it would just be a suicide, but nooooo - because he had to keep trying, suddenly its far more tragic. And how is it an accident?

"Man Accidentally Jumps to Death; Accident Note Found At Scene"

"Man Accidentally Shoots and Eats ex-Wife"

I just don't understand. Why can't they call it what it is? It's a suicide. You don't put a gun to your head and pull the trigger repeatedly on accident. Bob, please help me understand...

Posted by: Josh at December 7, 2005 02:37 PM

*yawn* That level of stupidity doesn't even meet the prereqs for the Darwin Awards... although I recall one year a finalist did the same sort of thing with a .45 automatic. Brilliant.

Posted by: The Fastest Squirrel at December 7, 2005 03:16 PM

Personally, I think this is an argument FOR THE LEGALIZATION of pen guns.

They always weed themselves out, don't they?


Posted by: Marshall Neal at December 7, 2005 03:19 PM

The accident is rendered far less tragic by the involvement of a budding rapper. Best news since Kurt Cobain.

Maybe liberals could celebrate this incident as a twenty-two year retroactive auto-abortion. Now isn't that a more positive spin?

Posted by: Rurik at December 7, 2005 03:52 PM

Good catch. Nothing to add to this, just amazed they can use the word "accident" when he pulled the trigger 3 times.

Posted by: Ed Colletta at December 7, 2005 04:05 PM

All I see is another candidate for this year's Darwin Award

Posted by: Shoprat at December 7, 2005 04:10 PM

The only accident involved is the fact that this idiot managed to live so sure as hell wasn't on his survival instinct...

Posted by: BobG at December 7, 2005 04:22 PM

Great work.

Posted by: brando at December 8, 2005 10:21 PM

Makes me wonder who was counting these attempts, and why didn't they at least interrupt him, somewhere between the first and third attempt.

They know he tried three times, so he wasn't alone. Someone was counting.

Posted by: lrb111 at December 11, 2005 10:03 PM