In what appears to be a tragic accident during a defensive gun use in Las Vegas, a three-week old baby, who was being choked by her mother’s boyfriend, was shot in the stomach when the baby’s uncle shot the father. The mother and her boyfriend had apparently been involved in a domestic when the brother of the woman who lives next door shot the father. Police believe that the brother was in the apartment during the beginning of the dispute and left briefly to retrieve his gun.
The deceased man was shot in the chest. The bullet was a through-and-through shot that struck the baby in the stomach after penetrating the man’s body. The baby was alive as of noon Wednesday, but in grave condition. Police took the brother into custody, but this appears for an interview rather than arrest.
We can make a few educated assumptions. One is that the dead man is likely not, or rather suspected he wasn’t, the child’s father. Fatherhood of the child is absent in the articles and a man trying to kill an infant after a domestic with his girlfriend is indicative that the child was not his. Usually the child becomes a pawn in the parents’ dysfunctional relationship.
The neighborhood this occurred is not a wealthy neighborhood. If the uncle was using a handgun he was more than likely using full-metal jacket rounds which are cheap. Many persons who own firearms for self-protection, but are not experienced shooters buy the cheapest ammunition they can find. Given the fact that his shot did strike the baby, the shooter was likely not experienced enough to “clear the background” to avoid just such a thing from happening. A shot from the side or into the head would have been much less likely to strike the child.
I might be entirely wrong in assuming the dynamics of the relationship. It very well could be that the man was just a bad, evil father who thought little of murdering his baby. It is also true that a hollow-point or controlled expansion round may also over-penetrate, though much less likely. The shooter may have also shot center-of-mass under stress to ensure that he struck his target, rather than take a shot at a smaller target as the head or profile shot would have presented.
Without taking the shot, it is highly probable that the child would be dead. This highlights the importance of firearms training and shooting proficiency. In such horrible circumstances, a shot to the head or into the body angled away from the child would have averted the unintentional injury. A quality hollow-point round would have certainly mitigated the over-penetration at a minimum.
Even in life-or-death situations, shooting a would-be killer is not always guaranteed to stop the threat without injuring others. No matter whether on the range or in the heat of the moment, one must be sure that their shots will not injure the innocent. It’s doubtful that the shooter was practiced and confident with his weapon or knew the risks of FMJ ammo versus the benefits of self-defense cartridges. Should the child life without complications, the uncle will suffer guilt for the rest of his life.
In another distressing defensive gun use, a teen who killed his father and shot his mother, was then shot by his mother. According to a friend, the kid was “messed up.” You don’t say? Luckily, his mother was able to get another gun and shoot back, causing her son to run away. As awful at this must have been, it went no further because the mother was able and willing to stop it. That’s about all that can be said about this mess. Defensive shootings are never glamorous and seldom heroic.
In another recent tragedy, a two year old child was shot and killed while playing with a handgun. Again, using assumptions based on the neighborhood and from experience (since race is not reported anymore) it appears that this occurred in a minority community where proper knowledge about firearms is rare. I’ve noticed a consistent theme that these “accidents” seem to happen most frequently to marginalized non-whites or poor whites.
It’s not about race or class, it’s about ignorance, and often poverty and marginalized communities that suffer from a lack of education or language barriers have a spike in violence and firearm accidents. Abandoned by progressive social organizations that consider disarmament “gun safety” and not easily reached by the NRA, these black, Hispanic, and other poor or non-white communities do not have only a fraction of the respect for firearms that our readers do.
All we can do is put the information out there and hope that people seek it out. Mass media and social services have done a poor job teaching our society about guns. In movies, bullets never over-penetrate; except when Indiana Jones needs to kill three Nazis in a row at once. The dangerous nuances of “know your target and what lies beyond” is rarely shown. Safe gun storage is at best a plot point to give depth to a tragedy or make a political point. Carl in The Walking Dead being shot by a careless hunter or the “Hey, wanna see my dad’s gun?” kid from The Sixth Sense don’t communicate the potential for the above two heartbreaking incidents above.
Mandatory training and increased restrictions don’t make society safer. As reader Mac once said, the reason we don’t often hear about children burning to death is because firefighters teach “stop, drop, and roll” and fire safety in schools. Gun safety education for children and adults is notoriously absent. An “abstinence only” approach to gun safety just doesn’t work and its time we stopped pretending it did.
I wish I could reach these people. I wish I could make the idea that a box of ammo at one dollar a round might mean the difference between life and death click. I wish that I could teach them to shoot often and well so they can make the hard shots when it counts. I wish that people took more away from this site than just “open carry is legal in Nevada.” Proper knowledge about firearms is vital and sadly lacking in society. It’s a damn shame the conversation is about meaningless crime control attempts with a disarmament agenda rather than “lock your shit up!” and know what you are doing when you pull the trigger.
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West