Shooting While Drunk
Yesterday I posted about a strange incident in 2000 in which Kyle Huff fired 12 rounds into a fiberglass moose in Whitefish, Montana.
For those keeping track of the complicated debate over whether Huff should have been charged with a felony for the moose shooting—a charge that would probably have prevented Huff from keeping the shotgun and pistol he later used in the Capitol Hill murders—I’ve been given some additional information today that changes things.
Although the Whitefish Police Department told me yesterday that the estimated damage done to the moose by Huff came in at over $2,000, the Flathead County Attorney’s office told me today that a later, more accurate estimate put the damage at around $750. This is significant because in Montana, according to the County Attorney’s office, a person can’t be charged with felony criminal mischief unless the mischief costs more than $1,000 to repair.
So forget, for a minute, about the question of whether Huff ever did his required community service in the incident. It’s still not clear that he did, and if he didn’t do it, it speaks a bit to his character and lax enforcement in Whitefish, but it doesn’t have much to do with whether he should have been given a felony. It appears the authorities could never have made a felony criminal mischief charge against Huff stick, because he didn’t cause enough damage.
However, here’s something else that’s interesting: the Seattle Times has a reporter in Whitefish who has dug through all the paperwork on this incident and come up with this letter of apology Huff wrote about shooting the moose.
In the letter, Huff admits to having been drunk at the time of the incident. Washington Cease Fire tells me that in this state, admitting to being drunk during such an incident would be enough to get a person’s gun license revoked.
Perhaps this is getting very nitpicky and academic, but the gun rights folks always talk about enforcing existing gun laws rather than making new ones, so I wonder: Would the existing gun laws of Montana have required Huff to give up his gun license after he admitted to firing a shotgun in Whitefish while drunk?
It’s now too late in the day in Montana for me to find out the answer to this question. Any Slog readers think they know the answer?