We have been discussing in class the idea of an ‘accidental shooting’. What makes something an accidental shooting and death? This is often how child deaths are reported – father accidentally shoots child whilst strapping them into a car seat’, ‘man accidentally shoots himself in the head at a gun show,’ or ‘child accidentally shoots self or friend whilst playing with a gun that was found in the home’.

What makes these accidents, is the fact that those involved did not intend to hurt others, in the manner that we might think of for a shooting, murder or other act of violence. But, does that make them accidents?

The guns involved are design to kill – that is what they are designed to do, so does the fact that someone got hurt/killed make it an accident?

Is this more about issues of blame  and intentionality for the people, but the machine is doing what it was designed to do.

As we learned in the initial briefing by Vicky, the challenge that ASK for a Safer Community are facing, in their efforts to have a Child Protection Law put in place in Pennsylvania, is that under the law now, if a child is accidentally shot in someones home, no one is liable. It is an accident. But, should they drown in your swimming pool, or break their neck on your trampoline, then you are held liable. There is an irony to this – swimming pools and trampolines are not designed to kill, and the deaths are accidental, but guns are designed to kill, and yet when they do what they are meant to do, no-one is liable. In both scenarios – children are playing.

What makes something an accident? Who should, or should anyone be liable for an accident?

Pools and trampolines are in the garden as activities for safe play – children should have supervised care with these. What about guns? Should they have access? Would we condone supervised or unsupervised play? Children have toy guns, and then there a real guns, should we expect those that have so many other issues to deal with and uncertainties around the boundaries of real and fantasy, to know the difference and realize the implications?

Some things to think about