Would Gun Rights Advocates Support “Jamie’s Law”?

shot by kid

I’m proposing a new gun control law that would be named after Jamie Gilt, who this week was accidentally shot in the back by her 4-year-old son, who was seated in the back seat of her truck at the time. The child had picked up a .45 handgun that she had left on the floor of the vehicle. “Jamie’s Law” would ban gun ownership for life if an adult leaves a firearm, loaded, within the reach of a child below a certain age. Personally, I’d be fine if the cut-off was 18, but just to keep the law as close to Jamie’s situation as possible, let’s say 10 or under. Would that be unreasonable?

We could make the law really specific to Jamie, who is an idiot, by banning gun ownership by anyone who leaves guns lying around for kids to play with AND maintains a Facebook page called “Jamie Gilt for Gun Sense,“…well, with their name, not Jamie’s. Yes, Jamie—did I mention that she is an idiot?—did this while promoting responsible gun ownership. I wonder what she would consider irresponsible gun ownership. Maybe giving a child a loaded gun to suck on, instead of a pacifier.

I’m not too fond of the million or so anti-gun types who went on the page to insult and berate Jamie, who is in the hospital. (I see that the page has been taken down since last night.) I’m sure she feels bad enough already, in part because she was shot and also because she will be the face of foolish gun owners for the foreseeable future. What she should feel is lucky. The only difference between Jamie and Veronica Jean Rutledge, shot dead in a Walmart by her two-year-old in 2014, is moral luck. Actually, what Gilt did was more reckless that the conduct that killed Rutledge: Gilt was driving, and Rutledge at least had her gun in her purse, not in plain view. Both Rutledge and Gilt were lucky their children weren’t killed.

What do you think about Jamie’s Law?

Maybe gun owners who do this should be banned from having custody of children, too.

(Of course, it goes without saying that they would be presumed innocent until proven Gilty….)*

_______________________

*I’m sorry, I really am, but there’s a place in Hell for people who pass up set-ups like this.

83 thoughts on “Would Gun Rights Advocates Support “Jamie’s Law”?

  1. Saw a quote from a former Putnam County (Jacksonville, Florida) prosecutor saying she shouldn’t be prosecuted for anything because she’s suffered enough and was herself the victim of the shooting. Idiot. The real victim here is the four year old. Talk about moral luck. As you mentioned, the four year old didn’t shoot himself. That’s moral luck.

        • Yes, but I don’t think the individual loss of the 2nd amendment protections would be a permissible punishment without the passing of “Jamie’s law”.

          It would be much more palatable if this law were merely one adding a potential penalty to laws already on the books. Not the creation of a whole new law- certainly not one with tons a troublesome precedent.

            • No doubt, which is why as a standalone law, I would see it as what I call “piling on” (which I haven’t put full meditation to it, but I generally don’t like piling on in a legal sense…either someone is guilty of one crime or not). It would make much more since if the law is merely to enable an additional punishment for an already existing crime that may or may not now have aggravating circumstances.

              There’s Child Endangerment, then there’s REALLY making it easy to Endanger a Child, when it would be REALLY easy to avoid that endangerment.

  2. On first glance with little thought put into precedents and unintended consequences, it *sounds* good.

    But how are you gonna actually enforce it?

    Also, could people lose their first amendment rights for saying destructive things?

    • Also, could people lose their first amendment rights for saying destructive things?

      Not analogous, people do lose their right to own guns through civil commitment and felony conviction, they don’t lose their free speech rights. Convict these people for whatever their state’s version of criminal negligence is called, they lose the right to own guns.

      And yes Jack, 10 makes more sense than 18, there’s still many a teenager who look forward to getting their first .22 rife.

    • One of many cases of where cross comparisons between the First and Second Amendment aren’t helpful. SCOTUS has approved taking away the right to own guns for certain conduct. This would be just one more example.

      • what about comparison with other objects?

        Should people be prohibited from owning knives, or heavy machinery, or electrical equipment, if their gross negligence causes a child to injure someone using those devices?

        Why should guns be treated worse?

        • Because guns are more dangerous than those things. Hell, that’s precisely why they’re constitutionally protected; because they could be used to overthrow an oppressive government. By the same token, that’s also why they’re more regulated than those other things. It’s a double-edged sword.

          • Specific regulations targeting guns implicate the Second Amendment, just like a specific tax on ink implicates the First Amendment.

            Laws of general application do not necessarily implicate the Second Amendment, even if applied to guns. As pointed out before, there are generally applicable laws against criminal negligence. The application of such laws to guns usually would not infringe on the Second Amendment.

    • Enforcement would be as haphazard as anti-gun laws in Chicago. I would go with a hefty fine and jail time once you lose the right to carry, if caught. I don’t think this would be in any way unconstitutional, but that’s not up to me, but SCOTUS.

      • In other words, it would be a “piling on” law, that is really only discoverable after some other misconduct has occurred that reveals a violation of this law. I can only imagine the kind of “inform on your parents” or “inform on your friends” community we’d need combined with a “he said/she said” trial or a super robust surveillance and inspection state we’d require in order to catch this crime independent of others.

        • Yeah, Tex, enforcement would be as hard/loose/almost worthless as when drivers’ licenses are suspended. But frankly, I think there are more connections that we should place between gun ownership and driving cars. Yes, I grew up in TX shooting Dad’s guns and know this isn’t the whole story. But I feel like requiring SOME amount of licensure/insurance, etc. would be for the health of the Union. I don’t feel like gun ownership at this point, which = anything at any time by almost anyone, is working well. Proof positive right here. She supposedly knew better and was a yeller about how gun rights should be freeeeeeeeeee. And then she did something this stupid and got shot. The Go Fund Me should be for the poor kid’s therapy. But mental health care is covered under Obamacare…

  3. No. I wouldn’t support your proposal (summary: “Full 2nd Amendment suspension for someone whose firearm was found near or can be proven as having been near a sub-10 year old; and anyone that person co-habitates.)

  4. A little extreme, but I would go for a slightly more restrained version (change “for life” to something like 15 years and maybe some other safeguards to make sure it survives the inevitable constitutional challenge).

    More importantly I think gun’s rights organizations need to disavow her, but carefully as not to be unempathetic (is that a word? My phone doesn’t think so) to make it clear they represent responsible gun owners.

    And finally, Jack should be shot for that horrible horrible pun. 🙂

  5. Sidebar: It’s interesting that when discussing guns, it often and quickly turns to “You can’t own guns. We’ll take away your guns” like guns are some sort of free commodity.

    When was the last time the government made someone sell their car because of reckless driving? (Impounding is not the same.) Or even declined to allow them to register their car and keep plates on their car? Sure, they revoked their driver’s license and they’re not allowed to drive the car, but they can own it, collect it, look at it, register it.

    Guns aren’t cheap. If you’ve got a collection of guns, it can be quite expensive and people are just supposed to give up museum quality pieces as scrap metal?

  6. I’m normally very leery of any law called “[Name]’s Law” because they typically are a matter of barn door fallacy following some kind of freak incident. That being said, I’ve always (since I’ve been politically aware) thought that gun ownership should be subject to licensure like driving, and irresponsible ownership should lose you your license. The vast majority of gun owners are sensible and law-abiding, and if they will introduce their children to guns, wait until they are old enough to learn gun safety. My uncle first took his sons hunting when they were each about 10, and both have become teenagers who are very responsible around all manner of weapons.

    • Totally cool with the notion of a well-regulated militia (that is to say, well trained). But not until the leadership and braintrust of 50% of the political spectrum can quit their obvious desire for a 100% ban and confiscation on firearms.

      Nope. Not one inch of compromise as long as one side of the spectrum will not be satisfied unless all Americans are disempowered completely.

      • It’s really sad, then. There’s a real compromise to be had, and 90% of gun owners WANT a compromise. But we’re being held back by the political elites and in the meantime, people are dying.

        • Chase Davidson said, “…we’re being held back by the political elites and in the meantime, people are dying.”

          What makes the deaths of these people that are dying that you’re talking about more tragic than the other lives that are ended every day by other means? This is not about the lives lost, it’s about political power and for some people it’s about absolute political power and the total disempowerment of the general population.

          • There are a lot of people who would compromise on things like a universal background check…. 90% sounds right In fact, the NRA was a proponent of UBCs until relatively recently. I think the reason these don’t happen is because gun owners don’t trust democrats to stop in reasonable places.

            http://www.gallup.com/poll/186263/majority-say-concealed-weapons-safer.aspx?g_source=guns&g_medium=search&g_campaign=tiles

            “Would you favor or oppose a law which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states?” Favor: 86 percent. Oppose: 12 percent. Unsure: 2 percent.

              • Tim LeVier; I cant see why anyone would be complaining about the bureaucracy in the US – 6 HOURS!

                Try 6 WEEKS in Australia.

                By the way; some years back, when my son’s (Junior) shooter licence turned up, I rang up and said there was a problem.

                “Oh, is he one of the people who has been registered for the wrong category of firearm?”

                “No, he’s one of the people with someone else’s photo on the licence”.

                “Oh, one of those”.

                • I mean, usually we can get a background check done in 30 minutes, but when there’s a shooting or impending restrictive legislation, that time can jump up to 6 hours as it is now. Government would love to have an excuse to delay sales of firearms and make people accustomed to waiting weeks, months or years to acquire a new firearm.

        • Being held back because the so called reasonable gun regulations advocates have made it obvious, though not explicit, that nothing short of gun confiscation will satisfy them. A true camel in the tent situation.

  7. Jack said, ” “Jamie’s Law” would ban gun ownership for life if an adult leaves a firearm, loaded, within the reach of a child below a certain age.”

    I have absolutely no problem stripping the right to own a firearm from an individual that did that and the actual result of that action causes injury; if there is no injury as the result of the irresponsible behavior then no. The point is that the action of leaving the firearm in reach of the minor shouldn’t be the only defining factor of such a law, it should come into play when, and only when, there is injury as a result of the action.

    Something else to consider is the law won’t actually stop stupid, irresponsible and absent minded people from initially being that stupid, irresponsible and absent minded it will just punish them for being stupid, irresponsible and absent minded and hopefully prevent them from making the same stupid, irresponsible and absent minded mistake again, but even that is no guarantee.

    • if there is no injury as the result of the irresponsible behavior then no.

      That’s consequentialism and makes no sense. Her act would be exactly the same. So if she did it 10 times in a row and was lucky, onlt 11, when a kid was killed, would count? Once is plenty, harm or no harm.

      • Jack said, “That’s consequentialism and makes no sense.”

        I understand what you’re saying but I disagree. The simple act of leaving the firearm in reach of the minor, whether the firearm is monitored by the adult or not, is not in itself immoral; however, allowing that minor to pick up that firearm (due to stupidity, being irresponsible or being absent minded) and discharge it causing injury IS immoral.

        Extrapolate your law that leaving the firearm in reach of the minor is criminal as in a felony that strips felons of their right to own firearms to other things, drugs both legal and illegal where there is the possibility of the child eating it like candy that can cause injury, running car where the possibility of a child putting it in gear and causing injury, etc. Your idea is much like the fictional concept behind the story “The Minority Report” where people are actually punished for what might happen. What other laws do we have that actually punish people for what “might” happen?

        • Now you’re making even LESS sense. 1) morality has nothing to do with this 2) Leaving a loaded gun within reach of a child IS allowing him to pick it up. If he doesn’t out of inattention or luck, that’s no mitigation of the misdeed of allowing the situation and deadly risk.

          • Jack you didn’t answer my question: what other laws do we have that actually punish people for what “might” happen?

            Consequentialism:

            The theory that the value and especially the moral value of an act should be judged by the value of its consequences.

            The theory that human actions derive their moral worth solely from their outcomes or consequences.

            The theory that ethical decisions should be made on the basis of the expected outcome or consequences of the action.

            The last one really struck home for me and reflects what I’m, about to say.

            I can read all those definitions as both hindsight and foresight viewpoints of consequences. Based on that; I’m not the only one that is proposing consequentialism, which is really not a problem because we’re only talking theoretically anyway. You are suggesting that an individual literally be punished, Constitutional rights be stripped, for an action that has an expected outcome or consequence regardless of whether that outcome has actually happened in that particular instance; isn’t that at the very core of consequentialism?

            In my opinion; morality has a great deal to do with this; do we as a society chooses to punish people for what we think “might” happen; yes or no? I believe the ethically and morally correct answer to that question is no.

            Hypothetically consider; you’re a prosecutor, how you would present a case to a jury solely based on what the law or you “think might happen” but hasn’t actually happened in this case?

            As others have stated; there are other laws that would do well to punish adults in these instances. Making the adult legally culpable for the actual discharge of the weapon, injury, or death which might in some cases be a felony, and if I understand felony correctly it would strip the individual of their rights to own a firearm.

            • Safety regulations exist so that people who break them can be punished, regardless of whether breaking them caused bad things to happen.

              I’m not really sure what’s at the core of consequentialism, but I don’t think it’s defined quite as you define it. Laws like the aforementioned safety regulations are not consequentialist by your definition as far as I can tell, though I may be wrong.

              Technically, “the ends justify the means” is correct, but most people who say it completely fail to realize that the means they use to deal with a situation always have side effects in the ends. Ethics matters and is worthwhile because it provides benefits to society as a whole, including allowing society to exist in the first place. It’s not just a set of arbitrary rules that prevents instant gratification. As such, consequentialism seems some combination of vacuous, vague, and redundant.

              • Extradimensional Cephalopod said, “Safety regulations exist so that people who break them can be punished…”

                Regulations have the force of law but they are not actually laws and they are not widely distributed to the general public. I think someone that is directly associated with law and/or regulations would be much better equipped to explain the differences than I.

                Extradimensional Cephalopod said, “I’m not really sure what’s at the core of consequentialism, but I don’t think it’s defined quite as you define it.”

                I actually did not “define” the word Consequentialism, I obtained those three definitions from the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary and Dictionary.com and included them in my reply – what I failed to do was to cite those references – sorry for the confusion, my bad.

                As for my reading of those definitions, I said, ” I can read all those definitions as both hindsight and foresight viewpoints of consequences”; if someone thinks that my reading of those definitions is in error I welcome opposing opinions, but please explain in some detail.

                • Fair enough; forget the regulations. Will seat belt laws suffice as an example?

                  Personally, I had thought consequentialism was either another word for “moral luck”, and thereby a utility metric only used by the foolish, or a short-sighted excuse for doing unethical things (“the ends that directly affect me justify the means”). I don’t know what other definitions distinguish it from the rather obvious “people do stuff because they want to make other stuff happen.”

                  • Extradimensional Cephalopod said, “Will seat belt laws suffice as an example?”

                    That certainly doesn’t rise to the level of stripping someone of their Constitutional rights, but sure, I think that’s a pretty reasonable example.

                    As for the “punishment”; I personally don’t think a $ fine is much of a punishment but I guess stripping the offender of rights to own a vehicle if they didn’t strap in would be a bit extreme. 😉

            • Aargh! A proper explanation of consequentialism is difficult in this forum, but I’ll give it a shot, and try to be brief. First, whether or not we recognize it, every person commenting on this blog (and every other human) subscribes to consequentialist theory. Secondly, as quoted correctly by Zoltar, consequentialist theory includes (with my “intended” addition, but only if the intention is ethical): (1) that the value and especially the moral value of an act should be judged by the value of its [intended] consequences; (2) that human actions derive their moral worth solely from their [intended] outcomes or consequences; and (3) that ethical decisions should be made on the basis of the expected outcome or consequences of the action. The third of these provisions (or definitions) is the most important, and the one ignored most by those arguing against consequentialism. The only purpose of ethics is to guide our behavior. Thus, if ethics is to have any value at all, it must predict the consequences (and value) of behavior. Ignoring the very probable consequences of our behavior has disastrous results. Judging the moral value or consequences of our behavior after the fact has no bearing on the real world effects of our behavior. Consequences must be predicted and judged prior to our behavior. Doing so afterward only gives us opportunity to illustrate “moral luck” or “Duh, what else did you expect?” Fortunately, we have thousands of years of human experience on which to reflect. We know the consequences of many (if not all) behaviors. Those of which we approve have come down to us as values, moral rules and imperatives, “the right thing to do”, and demonstrative of virtue. Those of which we disapprove have come down to us as detrimental, anti-social, vicious, illegal, immoral, and unethical. Though it may not be clear to all, consequentialism does not imply the ends justify the means; it only implies that any means can only be justified by all of the consequences of the behavior (including all “collateral” and distantly future consequences). None of us can accurately predict all future consequences of a behavior, so we must rely on our knowledge of all past consequences of similar behavior.

              • Good job.

                Consequentialism as I tend to use it here describes the inevitable warping of the concept, by retroactively holding unpredictable, unintended, or unexpected results against the actor regardless of the motive and analysis behind the actions. AS for the three elements you listed, only 3) is valid. Good intentions do not rescue an unethical act (#1) and sole destroys #2.

                • Jack, I agree, good intentions do not rescue an unethical act. In hindsight, we must judge the moral value of an act by the actual value of its consequences (whatever the intention might have been). This is the only way humanity can progress. (Otherwise, we’d be touting “moral un-luck” as ethical behavior.)

                  The existence of soul (not the fish), is purely conjectural. There is no evidence that such a thing exists, let alone that such a thing has immanent value, or is good or right, regardless of what it may prompt in our behavior. (This was Kant’s error; there’s no reason for the rest of us to believe it.)

                  Personally, I believe “soul” (like “heart”) represents, or is a euphemism for, all of those things about us that distinguish us from all other elements of nature – it is our “essence”. When God gave Adam the breath of life, only then did Adam become a living soul. Before that, there was no soul (or several souls) sitting around looking for a body to inhabit. When a person dies, there is no evidence his or her soul continues to exist. Such ideas do help us feel good, but there is no evidence that such ideas are true. I remain skeptical that such things as souls exist independently of ourselves (other than in our imaginations). More importantly, we cannot rely on the existence of souls to instill ethical behavior in others. We must find better arguments.

              • Otto,
                Thanks for all the effort.

                I found a really interesting entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Consequentialism, I’ve been having a discussion with the author for a couple of days.

                I also found this bullet point introduction page about ethics and consequentialism.

                Otto said, “First, whether or not we recognize it, every person commenting on this blog (and every other human) subscribes to consequentialist theory.”

                After what I’ve read I agree.

        • There are plenty of laws that “punish people for what ‘might’ happen”, Zoltar. Anything with “attempted” in front of it is exactly that. Attempted rape. Attemped murder. Also, what about solicitation of a crime? That is a punishable even though the crime hasn’t happened.

          I think your view of the reasons behind the justice system might be a little narrow. We don’t just want to discourage behavior that actually causes harm, we also want to discourage behavior that will likely lead to harm. (Reasonable discussion can be had over how we define “likely”.)

          • Brendan said, “There are plenty of laws that “punish people for what ‘might’ happen”, Zoltar. Anything with “attempted” in front of it is exactly that. Attempted rape. Attempted murder. Also, what about solicitation of a crime? That is a punishable even though the crime hasn’t happened.”

            Brendan,
            Anything with attempted in front of it – what the heck are you talking about? Attempted murder literally means that someone physically tried to kill another person, they intentionally perpetrated an act to end the life of another human being, just because they weren’t successful does not mean that a “violent” criminal did not take place; attempted rape is EXACTLY the same thing. Attempted literally means that they physically tried to accomplish it; these are physical acts of “violence”.

            Brendan said, “Also, what about solicitation of a crime? That is a punishable even though the crime hasn’t happened.”

            That might be an example; please explain further.

            “I think your view of the reasons behind the justice system might be a little narrow. “

            I think I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and forget you wrote that.

      • No, not consequentialism.

        If her children were taught from a very early age that this is a gun, it’s dangerous, and only adults can handle it, then that parent and child could indeed play out the same scenario 10 times or even 100 times without incident, and there is no luck involved whatsoever.

        –Dwayne

  8. *I’m sorry, I really am, but there’s a place in Hell for people who pass up set-ups like this.

    No apology for a good pun is ever enough.

    • Yes, contrary to what Alex suggests above, Jack should not be shot for the pun. There is no apology necessary. When Hillary gets to hell, and for as long she stays, she will never meet the man that secured his absence by not passing this perfect set-up.

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