Wednesday, 20 February 2013

It’s Not An Accident

As you have no doubt heard, Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend.

I hold him in much the same regard as I hold most sports figures and media darlings: I don’t. Sure, he runs fast and he does so on a pair of high tech prosthetics. That’s pretty neat. But compared to Army Ranger Sgt. Joseph Kapacziewski, who returned to active combat duty serving four deployments with a prosthetic leg (meaning he went through selection not once, but twice - once with a prosthetic leg - that’s what you call hard as woodpecker lips), he seems like just another pampered, rich athlete.

Besides the fact that he shot a woman to death, his legal team getting in front of the media in an effort to sway public opinion by trying to paint this tragic event as an “accident” is what is really pissing me off.

They are trying to claim that shooting through a door several times at what he believed to be an intruder he couldn’t actually see, meaning he couldn’t positively identify, was an “accident.” That’s “negligence” at best, plain old “murder” at worst.

Now I should preface this by saying I think people should be allowed to own firearms of any size and description. Someone tries to harm you, your loved ones, your property, you should be allowed to stop them, in any way you see fit. Having said that though, with great power, comes great responsibility. 

I’ve posted them on here before: Colonel Coopers 4 Rules of Firearms Safety. Rule #4: Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Clearly, he did nothing of the kind in this instance. Given the shocking level of criminal brutality in South Africa, I think people should definitely be allowed to employ a means of not becoming a victim. But a basic premise that needs to be followed is that you need to be 100% certain of what it is you are shooting at, (daughter sleepwalking or prowling rapist?) and also an awareness of what is beyond that target (kindergarten playground or brick wall?). A flashlight is a mandatory accessory on or with a home defense weapon to see what it is you are shooting at in the dark. Being able to actually see what that potential threat is, is crucially important. A closed door would also deter one from seeing what that “target” actually is.

To not have been 100% certain of that fact before pulling the trigger is not an “accident”. Stop calling it that. If people aren’t by this point convinced he is a femicidal asshole, they should be convinced he is a negligent asshole. To continue trying to prop up this tired cliché that this was all some regrettable mishap is not doing him any favours.

When I read in the paper that Pistorius nearly shot a friend at a Johannesburg restaurant recently when a pistol he was looking at “accidentally” went off, it just confirms it all for me. He was looking at a friend’s gun when the firearm “discharged accidentally”, Kevin Lerena told the Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper on Monday. “For some reason it got caught on his trousers, flipped the safety pin and a shot went off. I wouldn’t say he was negligent.”

Oh I would. How the hell does a pistol just “accidentally” go off? Oh that’s right, you violated rules #3 (keeping finger off the trigger) and probably #1 and #2 as well (treating a firearm as though it is always loaded, and not allowing the muzzle to cover anything you’re not willing to destroy). There’s no mystery to a firearm discharging.

The military is right. It’s a “negligent discharge”. There’s no accident involved.
Do that in the military and bad things happen to you. It always pisses me off when the police refer to it as an “accidental discharge” when one of their own does it. There’s no accident involved. Obey Colonel Coopers 4 rules. I realize full well that they say that as an ass covering ploy to avoid culpability in cases where someone is hurt by those sorts of acts. Again, it’s an effort to manipulate public perceptions and opinion. And I don’t like it.

I’m all for people being allowed to own firearms. Yes, it’s a right, but that that right also needs to come with a very high expectation of responsibility. If you pull a stupid move with one, you should be punished for it. Or have the damn thing taken away from you because you just proved yourself to be incompetent  No matter if you are a rich and famous sports figure. And if that stupid move leads to someones death, it should come with at the very least a negligent homicide conviction.

An accident is walking along a trail and a boulder at that very moment comes loose on a cliff above you, plummeting silently down and landing atop you. That is an accident.

What this shit licker did is not an accident. Stop calling it that. In general there needs to be a serious rethinking of what we casually refer to as an “accident”, but this case in particular makes the point crystal clear for me.

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