Let’s try one from Queens, New York, and one from Portsmouth, NH, both involving a failure to follow the basic rules of gun handling. In Little Neck, a Queens neighborhood, a 23-year-old man managed this off-label use of a target rifle: he shot himself in the foot. An earlier version of the news story did include a name and mugshot, but the current one doesn’t suggesting that the paper jumped the gun. And the man has not been charged.
According to police, the man, whose name was not released, accidentally shot himself in the foot with a target rifle inside his home, on 37th Avenue near 254th Street in Little Neck, and was taken to North Shore Hospital for minor injuries. Police said there was no criminality suspected in the incident and the man has been recovering from his injury.
We have a small beef with this word, “accidentally.” Guns are mechanical devices that operate in perfect accord with an operators volition, therefore, there are no accidental discharges, just negligent ones. But not all negligent discharges are criminally negligent. Apparently, NYPD agrees; they think he’s probably not going to do that again. And really, there is not much the courts can do to him that can compete with a bullet hole in the old instep to bring a slow learner up to speed on gun safety, is there?
So let’s head up the coast a five-hour or so drive to Portsmouth, NH, where we have the paradoxical outcome of no one wounded, but one arrested, even in a state and city that are far more liberal about gun ownership and use.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: “while cleaning his gun…”
PORTSMOUTH — A Suzanne Drive resident is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a misdemeanor alleging he placed the public in danger by accidentally firing a 9mm bullet into his neighbor’s home while cleaning his gun.
Charged with a class B misdemeanor count of reckless conduct is Gregory Vaillancourt, 30, who police allege misfired his pistol on July 24 at 1:30 p.m.
According to a police report by Officer Dean Outhouse, Vaillancourt’s neighbor reported finding a bullet hole in the side of his house near a front window and said he thought the bullet had also dented his stainless steel refrigerator. Outhouse reported he then interviewed Vaillancourt who admitted accidentally firing his gun while cleaning it in his living room the day before.
The officer’s affidavit states the bullet went through Vaillancourt’s television set and a wall before traveling 45 yards across the street, passing through the neighbor’s house, ricocheting off the metal refrigerator and into a rear wall.
This mugshot is the perp, or maybe in Homer Simpson terms, the object of “a bunch of things that just happen.” Now, the poor guy across the street who now has a 9mm ding in his refrigerator honestly can be said to be a guy who had something bad happen to him. But what if you do it to yourself? If Mr Vaillancourt’s weapon had been cleared when he picked it up; if it had been pointed in a safe direction; if he had kept his nose-pickin’ index finger out of the trigger guard; and a few more ifs: the bullet would still be nestled snugly in its case; the TV would still work (tuned to wrestling, probably); two houses wouldn’t have cute little 3/8″ holes in their walls; the refrigerator would still be smooth; and Mr Vaillancourt would not have gotten the chance to meet quite so many new people, an experience which continues for him in court today.
Is it the circumstances — we realize that no one looks brilliant in a mug shot, particularly when under arrest for something galactically stupid — or does that picture remind us of the guy in Dumb & Dumber?
We dunno about you, but we’ve been cleaning lots of guns for lots of years and have yet to blow the gizzard out of our TVs, or the neighbor’s home appliances, either. Maybe it’s because we unload the guns first. Then again, maybe “cleaning” is a cover story and he was indulging in some ballistic TV criticism — that must be sore temptation for all who own both a gun and an idiot box. (I guess these days it’s an idiot flat-screen).
Especially if the guy is an idiot.
After writing this piece, we heard of another instance of a negligent discharge. But this one isn’t funny: Saturday 17-year-old David Wade of Stoughton, MA who was wounded Saturday by a single shot in the chest, apparently a negligent discharge by his 21-year-old brother, who was a recent gun licensee (the papers don’t specify what kind of license. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that requires licenses for long guns). The younger Wade died after surgery. News stories:
- Boston Herald
- Boston Herald follow up
- Boston Globe (not linked. The Globe’s website just plagiarized the Herald’s article).
Like we said. Not funny.