June 10, 2008

Toddler Shot with CCH Holder's Gun

The sad story out of Columbia, SC, is an example of why I find some methods of carrying concealed completely unacceptable:

A 4-year-old girl grabbed her grandmother's gun and shot herself at a Sam's Club store in Columbia, S.C., authorities said.

Police Department spokesman Brick Lewis said the child took the gun from her grandmother's purse Monday and shot herself in the chest.

He said the child's grandmother has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. She has not been charged with a crime.

While I'm sure to have folks disagree on this point, I simply don't find off-body carry to be responsible. If you have your carry weapon in a purse or a bag, you put yourself in a situation where you will, during the course of your day, willingly relinquish control of your weapon numerous times. No person on this planet keeps a purse, bag, or briefcase in hand at all times, often placing it in a seat, shopping cart, on a desk, etc.

For unarmed people this is not an issue; shoplifters, purse-snatchers, and other thieves aren't rampant at our homes or places of work, and the very worst that can occur as a result of someone else accessing a bag or case is identity theft. For those who chose to carry a firearm, you should be held to a higher standard of responsibility, and when you carry off-body in a bag, you create a situation where unauthorized access arms curious children or thieves with a lethal weapon.

Frankly, the grandmother in this case should be charged for criminal negligence (or something similar) and have her carry permit revoked. She knew she was going to be around small children, and apparently left a lethal weapon unsecured in a purse in a shopping cart with a small child.

I'm glad that the child looks like she will recover, but Grandma should not be allowed to make such an irresponsible mistake again, and I'd urge my fellow CCH holders to carry on your person, or not carry at all.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 10, 2008 08:28 AM

I only disagree with you in that she should have her carry permit revoked. I firmly hold that your CCH is embodied in the Constitution. That being said, I also believe she should be charged and convicted of something thus making her a felon and then ineligible to own a weapon. I don't mind reasonable restrictions.

Posted by: MAJ Gross at June 10, 2008 08:41 AM

I agree with everything except charging the grandmother. She will have to live with the death of this child, her granddaughter, for the rest of her life. I really can't think of a harsher punishment.

Posted by: tracelan at June 10, 2008 09:04 AM

Sorry, I should read the whole story before commenting. Thankfully the little girl didn't die. Boy do I feel stupid.

Posted by: tracelan at June 10, 2008 09:08 AM

I'm afraid I must disagree. While carrying in a purse is not optimal from a weapon control standpoint, I know several women who do use that method of carry (not exclusively) and they pull it off well because they understand the potential dangers you outlined and take measures to keep control of their purses at all times. The point here is not that purse carry should not be allowed, but that it does require more attention to detail than other methods.

Carrying a concealed weapon at all requires changes in attitude, dress, awareness, intention, behavior and even association and movement. This lady apparently never had the opportunity to learn this, or, like all human beings, failed to be perfect. This is, of course, not an excuse. What excuse is there for this kind of failing? What words could possibly explain or justify it? And knows this better than this grandmother?

As a former police officer of nearly two decades of experience, I've seen many situations where decent citizens, through a moment's inattention, were the cause of great grief. Prosecute this woman? There is nothing the state can possibly do to punish her beyond the punishment she will render to herself each and every time she thinks of this incident, each and every time she sees her granddaughter or her daughter. Justice without mercy is a cruel and hollow thing indeed. And what would the lesson of such prosecution be? I think every possible lesson is quite clear already, certainly to this unfortunate woman and her family.

We should also keep in mind that the antis will leap upon this situation as justification for ending concealed carry and banning all weapons. We know that such situations are newsworthy because of their extreme rarity. Let's not give the antis any ammunition they don't already have.

We allow people to drive knowing that some percentage of the population is going to make mistakes and that people will die as a result of those mistakes. We also know that that percentage of the driving population will always be far higher than mistakes made by the percentage of the population that carries concealed. Something, perhaps, to keep in mind?

Posted by: Mike at June 10, 2008 10:09 AM

I don't have a problem with carrying in a bag that one keeps with them--for some people, it's sometimes just not an option to have the gun strapped to their hip. However, with a small child around she should have known better than to keep it anywhere the child could reach and access it. The news story is sketchy on details, but it sounds like she was negligent--I'll be surprised and disappointed if she isn't charged with something.

Posted by: Matt at June 10, 2008 10:24 AM
Prosecute this woman? There is nothing the state can possibly do to punish her beyond the punishment she will render to herself each and every time she thinks of this incident, each and every time she sees her granddaughter or her daughter.

Is that the new standard now? If you do something, but feel really, really bad about it, then you don't have to face charges?

No, justice doesn't have anything to do with her feelings, but with treating her the same as anyone else who gave a child access to a weapon through an act of negligence.

I stand committed: in my opinion she should be charged.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at June 10, 2008 10:31 AM

Sure the grandmother should be charged--but the law shouldn't try to restrict people's choice in the matter.

There was a news story a while back about a five year old being run over in his own driveway by his sixteen year old brother. I'm not positive on the ages but they're analogous. How then would the law handle this? Restrict parking in your own driveway? Restrict children under ten from playing in driveways? You see my point.

Accidents will happen no matter what. We'll *never* create a risk-free, accident-free society.

Posted by: Peter Grigor at June 10, 2008 10:39 AM

Purse carry is stupid. Granny has demonstrated that she cannot be trusted with a CCP. Don't turn her into a felon for being stupid until after we get to turn all the stupid shize that liberals do into felonies.

Purse snatching is probably the #1 crime against women on the streets, and that means lost gun. Also, a rapist would have to be stupid to let a woman unzip and reach into a purse whilst he does what, waits for her?

That being said, a purse snatching happens in a second. A toddler getting to the purse (or was is sitting next to the child?), then opening the purse, then finding the gun, holding it, then bang. That takes time, and yes, negligence. Felony? I dunno. But she was certainly stupid.

Posted by: Smarty at June 10, 2008 11:08 AM

Charge her; CC usually has some requirements. If she violated them, then the law was broken that way.

The kid could've reached in and got nail polish remover and drank that, many different things.

Smarty- most folks with CCP would have the gun out *before* the rapist has physical control of them.

Posted by: Foxfier at June 10, 2008 03:11 PM

You sure are quick to wish the arm of the law upon people. Like that one fellow who chased down and subdued criminals with his assault rifle whom you said you wish was arrested.

Shit happens. Children are stupid. You can't prevent little Johnny from leaping into a flooded creek to see if he can swim it. You can't stop Tom from climbing on top of his own truck while its on cruise control. You can't stop Billy from juggling knives. Zack will set up a ladder, climb on top of his roof, and leap off to break his leg. And when asked 'why?' he replies "I don't know." (true story)

I guess his parents deserved jail time for not locking up that ladder, or watching him like a hawk, hmm?

This knee-jerk 'someone must be held accountable' attitude is a liberal absurdity. Accidents happen. Life is imperfect.

This attitude that people need to be arrested for doing things that you don't agree with is dangerous. You need to see that.

Posted by: Dawnfire82 at June 10, 2008 07:36 PM

And here I thought holding people responsible for doing stupid shit that can get people killed (like leaving a loaded gun in a purse in a shopping cart with a kid)was a good idea. Silly me.

Drunk driving? Have at it. We don't need laws for that sort of stuff, either. If you hit somebody, you'll feel horrible about it, and isn't that enough?


Posted by: Confederate Yankee at June 10, 2008 08:00 PM

We do not know all of the facts relating to this incident and so, we make assumptions that may or may not bear on the reality of the incident. As a former police officer, I certainly believe in the law and the fair and just application of the same. But we hire police officers, prosecutors and judges to exercise their discretion because we recognize that even though the law may well be applicable in a given instance, it is not always justice to apply it.

I assume that there are laws in the jurisdiction where this incident took place that might be brought to bear against the grandmother. Perhaps this grandmother is a coke head. Perhaps she's a reprobate for any number of reasons. If so, she is far more likely to be prosecuted in this situation and probably justifiably so. But if she is what one might consider an "average" grandmother, a woman who deeply loves her daughter and granddaughter and dotes on both, it may well be more just not to favor prosecution, or at least, to throw a smaller book at her.

The rule of law is, without question, vital to a free society. However, wiser men than us have also built the exercise of human discretion into the system on many levels. Sometimes it fails, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill's aphorism about democracy, the American system of jurisprudence is the worst system, except for every other system that has been tried from time to time.

Again, without being the investigating officer, without knowing all of the facts and nuances, without actually knowing the people involved, without actually having had the opportunity to speak with them, to spend time with them, to question and re-question over time, to watch them and get a sense of who and what they are (that's a part of the discretion about which I speak) it's hard to make an absolute judgement. Knowing only what I know through this website, I tend to lean toward mercy. It may interest you to know that I make that statement as an officer who made far more arrests in my career than all of my fellows.

Posted by: Mike at June 10, 2008 09:13 PM

Confederate Yankee -
You're the one here promoting emotionally-based reactions.

Most of the rest of us are saying "Yes, that's bad-- apply standing laws as needed."

Posted by: Foxfier at June 10, 2008 11:29 PM

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems to me that there is very likely a law against negligence leading to injury or death, and the grandmother would seem to be chargeable under such a statute.

You are getting on CY for assuming there is a law that covers this, but you're making the same mistake in reverse, assuming that there isn't a law covering it. Et tu, kettle?

Posted by: C-C-G at June 11, 2008 07:58 AM

If the kid died, negligent homocide would be a possibility. Negligant injury to a child?

But seriously, we seem to have laws on the books that bias the law against conservatives. Liberals do stupid shit all the time, but their kind of stupid shit isn't illegal, or at least isn't prosecuted.

Posted by: Smarty at June 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Please note, I said to apply the laws as they relate.
Rather than hooting and hollering about how horrible it is that some people CC in a set way, and there otta be a law and it should be retro active, because the poor little kid could've killed herself.

Please, explain how "apply the law" is an appeal to emotion?

I see it as no different from the kid getting carkeys and hurting themselves with the vehicle.

Posted by: Foxfier at June 11, 2008 07:00 PM

Foxfier, I did not name you, my comment was not directed at you, rather to those who were getting on Bob's case. Nor did I ever use the phrase "appeal to emotion."

Guilty conscience?

Posted by: C-C-G at June 11, 2008 09:41 PM reply got eaten.

Short version:
the only person who suggested NOT enforcing laws did not even mention CY, let alone "pile on."

Given that lack, you must have been interpreting any disagreement as "piling on" and since I'm one of those yelling "HOLD UP! just follow the laws," it's logical to respond as if you WERE speaking to me.

Posted by: Foxfier at June 12, 2008 04:27 PM

I'd never heard the term "carry off-body" and I've used and owned firearms since I was a child. I suspect other gun owners, and that lady, may also be unaware of that aspect of your argument. The point makes some sense, but I can see that it could easily be debateable, eg., Why do they sell bags and purses explicitly designed for CC?

With at least one caveat (if she was grossly negligent under the law) I agree with the officer's posts that it was a horrible accident and should be treated as such.

Posted by: DoorHold at June 15, 2008 10:32 AM