Ethics Quiz: Now THIS Is An Irresponsible Mother! So…

A 4-year-old Detroit girl is in critical condition after being shot in the arm and leg. Her mother is in custody: first she said that her daughter was wounded in an attempted robbery, then she admitted that her gun went off accidentally while she was cleaning it.

Twice.

Now, this ethics quiz is based on the facts as the mother stated them. According to the reports, there are many reasons to doubt what she is now claiming—for example, police say the girl’s mother said the firearm was inside the apartment, but they did not find any gun there after getting a warrant and searching. But let’s assume, arguendo, as lawyers say, that she is telling the truth. Let’s also assume that she isn’t crazy or a drug addict.

According to the ATF, these are the conditions under which a citizen can lose the Second Amendment Right To Bear Arms:

A person who —

(1) Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;

(2) Is a fugitive from justice;

(3) Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;

(4) Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution;

(5) Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or an alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;

(6) Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

(7) Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship;

(8) Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner issued after a hearing

at which notice was given to the person and at which the person had an opportunity to participate, and includes a finding that the person subject to the order represents a credible threat to the intimate partner or child or the intimate partner OR explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force against the partner; or

(9) Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot lawfully receive, possess, ship, or transport a firearm or ammunition,is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms and ammunition.

A person who is under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year cannot lawfully ship, transport, or receive a firearm or ammunition. Such persons may continue to lawfully possess firearms and ammunition obtained prior to the indictment or information, but cannot do so once the conviction becomes final.

[18 U.S.C. 922(g) and (n); 27 CFR 478.32]

None of these include irresponsible custodians of children who seriously injure a child by irresponsibly exposing them to firearms and displaying total ignorance in the care and handling of the weapon.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is the conduct like the mother in Detroit admits to a justifiable reason to remove her Second Amendment rights?

My position? She should lose custody of her child AND her right to own a gun. Permanently. Remember, according to her, she was cleaning the gun improperly, shot her daughter, continued to clean the gun improperly, and shot her again. One cannot be a more irresponsible parent or gun owner than that.

Why aren’t there provisions in the law to properly deal with a gun owner so untrustworthy?

39 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Now THIS Is An Irresponsible Mother! So…

    • How can that be enforced? What constitutes “repeated or extreme negligence”? Some think gun ownership is negligence per se. Others think owning firearms where there are small children around is gross negligence.

      This mother should be charged with illegal use or discharge of a firearm. Nobody believes a gun just goes off twice for no reason.

      jvb

      • The NRA has a list of gun safety rules somewhere that are intended to create a reasonable expectation of safety. I’m thinking of people who violate those rules. They probably don’t want people owning and using firearms who can’t follow basic precautions. You’re probably right; some of them are probably unenforceable, so maybe they don’t belong on that particular list. It seemed like a legal list rather than an ethical list.

  1. It’s really clear that the mother is willing to openly lie about this incident and she’s a bad liar.

    1. Was the child shot twice or was it the same bullet hitting the child twice?
    2. Exactly what kind of firearm was it?
    3. Where is the firearm?
    4. Was it actually the mother who was handling the firearm and shot the child?
    5. Does the mother legally own a firearm?
    6. Is the mother is covering up for someone else that shot the child and that person fled with the firearm?

    Personally I think #6 is likely true.

    This story is certainly not over yet.

        • The police didn’t find a firearm in the home when they executed the search warrant and to my knowledge there was no firearm cleaning supplies found in the search, at least I’ve not seen or heard anything about that.

          It’s really clear that she’s willing to openly lie about this shooting so how can you trust anything she says without the physical evidence to support it? We know she already openly lied once, we cannot trust that she isn’t lying again. There is more to this story than meets the eye; why is she lying?

          1. If she wasn’t actually the person handling the firearm when the child was shot then there’s no reason to charge her for it or strip her of her 2nd amendment rights.

          2. It’s clear that she is lying, she should be charged for lying to the police during an investigation.

          If she sticks to the story and they can’t find physical evidence to contradict her claim then they should throw the book at her. Being stupid does have consequences.

          I know a girl who was in close relationship with an abusive boyfriend a long time ago. They left a bar one night and he wouldn’t let her drive her, it was her car, he was drunk and she was sober. He was speeding down country roads and crashed the car into a barn on the way to another bar out in the boonies, it totaled her car and there was significant damage to the barn and some of the contents – I saw it the next day, it was a real mess. Luckily no one was injured outside a few bumps and bruises. Before the police arrived the abusive boyfriend convinced her to take responsibility for the crash so he wouldn’t go to jail for another, yes another drunk driving wreck. The sober passenger told the police that she was driving. She took the legal hit for the wreck, she got tickets and had to go to court later, she no longer had a car to get herself back and forth to work, the insurance didn’t cover enough of the car to pay off her car loan so she was paying for a car she no longer had, and when she did get another car her insurance went through the roof, her finances were quite a mess for a while because of it. She made bad choices all because of an abusive boyfriend and terribly low self esteem. Being stupid does have consequences.

    • #6 seems likely to me, too. Too many women cover for the misdeeds of men they let into their homes that end up harming the children.

      • A.M. Golden wrote, “Too many women cover for the misdeeds of men they let into their homes that end up harming the children.”

        Not only women covering for men, there are men covering for men and men covering for women. This shit happens all the time. I’ve seen it happen to people over the years.

  2. (2) Except as provided in subsection (3), (4), or (5), an individual who assaults or assaults and batters his or her spouse or former spouse, an individual with whom he or she has or has had a dating relationship, an individual with whom he or she has had a child in common, or a resident or former resident of his or her household, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(ftl5x1v3zj5covazo3k3wluu))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-750-81

    By shooting the child twice, I’d say there is an arguable case for at least misdemeanor domestic violence that would disqualify her from gun ownership….

      • It is not reasonable to believe that someone, upon “accidentally” shooting their child continues in the behavior that led to the shooting…and then “accidentally” does it again.

        No, the only reasonable answer is that the firearm was discharged *intentionally* and the child was likely wounded that way. Whether the child was the intended target, or the mother, or some other unknown party, and who actually shot the firearm, is all up to speculation.

        But one thing is certain – there is no reasonable conclusion that she “accidentally” shot her child while cleaning the firearm… twice.

  3. Yes, she should lose her right to own (etc.) firearms. In my state, reckless endangerment using a deadly weapon is a felony, and a conviction would put her within the federal statutes quoted.

  4. Arguendo, of course, because we do not know the facts of this case, only the first reports which are not always reliable, and, it is important to follow the law. Likewise, it is both illegal and unethical to deprive persons of their rights without due process.
    Arguendingly, this appears to be a state and not a federal matter.
    Under Michigan law, she is liable to a maximum sentence of not more than one year for reckless discharge of a gun. That is not sufficient under the ATF for her to lose her 2nd Amendment rights.
    However, also under Michigan law, she is liable to a maximum sentence of not more than 10 years for child abuse in the second degree (acting in a reckless manner that results in serious physical or mental harm), and that would be sufficient for her to lose her 2nd Amendment rights, per the ATF. Recklessness causing serious injury would need to be proved.
    So, take away her right now? No. First investigate. Then, if appropriate, prosecute. Then, if convicted, take away that right.
    Meanwhile, CPS must make sure the child, once released from the hospital, is in a safe environment, and that does not appear to be her home.
    Finally, illustrating the problem, here at the link is the list of related stories:
    • Father charged after 5-year-old shoots self in head (August 2021)
    • 2-year-old boy in critical condition after shooting self with unsecured gun (December 2021)
    • Mother accused of trying to clean up scene, get rid of gun after child shot self (July 2021)
    • 7-year-old child shoots self accidentally (April 2021).

    • Mr. Reese,

      WHAT IN THE HELL? Here I am reading EA on a break in homschooling for lunch and now this. A mother shoots her kid (or probably her boyfriend shoots her kid) twice, ok, mo biggie. But this? Cue one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes images.

      The penultimate sentence is the kicker. That woman is a high school teacher! I cannot express how much of my brain is currently on the surrounding area of my house. Brain-dead moms are not uncommon, but having a teacher willing to do that to a child? I’m in the five digits for reasons to homeschool. Here’s another notch. Perhaps they should take away this woman’s right to…I don’t know, live without a keeper, something, anything away? I’ve got to search for cranium pieces before what remains of my brain dribbles away. WTF in the extreme.

      • I caught this and Tweeted about this a couple days ago, I ended my thoughts with “This women…. This is one of the ones that should have just bought a cat.” And thought I was done, but then some rando started to fight with me, ostensibly thinking that because it was Beam’s car and kid, I should be in favor of this. It was a wild ride.

  5. Given the (hard to believe) set of circumstances, rule (4) should apply. The mother is certainly a “mental defective” (I’m surprised, and happy to see, such straight-forward language still in use). All that needs to be done is to have her declared as such (not sure what or how difficult this process is).

    • The process of having a person adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution is actually fairly difficult. The person must have a mental illness or defect (stupidity doesn’t qualify) and as a result presents a danger to themselves or others or lacks the mental capacity to manage their affairs. This condition must be determined by a court. Simply being involuntarily hospitalized on what is commonly called a 72 hour hold for involuntary examination doesn’t meet the criteria because there is no adjudication. Florida has a law for “risk protection orders” (red flag law) regarding firearms and I think a member of law enforcement would have grounds to petition for this woman’s right to have a firearm revoked on that basis.

  6. I kind of want to know what kind of gun it was… Might make a little difference depending on the safety mechanisms… But really… How?! How do you do that? Why would you clean a loaded gun…. For that matter, HOW do you clean a loaded gun? Ideally you’d be cleaning where the rounds go too….How do you accidentally shoot? How do you accidentally shoot TWICE? How do you hit your kid BOTH TIMES?!?! How do you fuck that up so bad?

    Are we sure this wasn’t just a murder attempt?

    • I think I read somewhere that the toddler might have gotten gunk in the trigger mechanism when she was playing with it in the backyard and the mom, responsible owner that she is, knew that a gunky trigger mechanism is a dangerous thing that may result in misfiring, or not firing at all. According to the interwebs, if you use rubbing alcohol and q-tips, you can clean those hard to reach spaces. The mechanism probably got . . . us . . . triggered and simply fired. Twice. Yup. That’s true.

      jvb

    • I always laugh at such stories, imagining the hapless gun owner vainly trying to jab a cleaning rod through the closed breach and past the live round in the chamber.

      Whereupon somebody who’s never touched a gun will inform me this is indeed a real and pressing danger, and they know it because they hear so many stories of guns just going off while they’re being cleaned.

  7. (1) Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;

    Is one year to harsh? What’s the “least worst” crime that lands someone in prison for 1 year?

    (2) Is a fugitive from justice;

    Seems reasonable, but it also seems like mostly an opportunity to tack on greater penalties than whatever they are currently outlawed for. I’m not a fan of “piling on” just to pile on. If there’s a reasonable ethical argument for why a fugitive from…unpaid traffic tickets…or a fugitive from burglarly is somehow extra guilty because they happen to have a fire arm when they are apprehended, I’m all ears.

    “(3) Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;”

    This seems like #2 – how are they “extra guilty”?

    “(4) Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution;”

    This is how they’ll eventually disarm us all. Now that we’re well on the road to government control of health care – no need to outlaw guns – just decide everyone who wants one is crazy. Don’t need courts or due process – just an “expert” in a lab coat. Don’t need prisons – just “asylums”. For our own good.

    “(5) Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or an alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;”

    #2

    “(6) Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;”

    This seems excessive in general. Maybe appropriate if the specific circumstances of the discharge warrant it.

    “(7) Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship;”

    I guess… or is this #2? Are non-citizens protected by any of the bill of rights?

    “(8) Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner issued after a hearing at which notice was given to the person and at which the person had an opportunity to participate, and includes a finding that the person subject to the order represents a credible threat to the intimate partner or child or the intimate partner OR explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force against the partner;”

    If the courts have been fair and reasonable in assessing that the target of the restraining order presents an immediate threat, sure. I wouldn’t want all restraining orders to arbitrarily come with this power. I think I’d want restraining orders to specify if the particular object of the restraining order is denied the 2nd Amendment.

    “or

    (9) Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot lawfully receive, possess, ship, or transport a firearm or ammunition, is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms and ammunition.”

    I’d like to see that appealable after a period of time.

    As for the hypothetical, I don’t see how the way the question is worded justifies the loss of the right EXCEPT insofar as it can be nested under some sort of crime related to gross negligence and child endangerment. In which case, refer to #9.

  8. My position? She should lose custody of her child AND her right to own a gun. Permanently. Remember, according to her, she was cleaning the gun improperly, shot her daughter, continued to clean the gun improperly, and shot her again. One cannot be a more irresponsible parent or gun owner than that.

    In other words, gross negligence resulting in serious injury of a child should be punishable in excess of one year confinement.

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