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Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Kill Your Child and Not End Up in Prison

Posted by on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Apparently all you have to do is use a gun...

A 7-year-old boy had been buckling himself into his safety seat in the back of his father's truck when he was shot to death after a handgun accidentally went off as his father got in the front seat, police said Sunday.

Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, told police he had been trying to sell the guns Saturday at Twigs Reloading Den in East Lackawannock Township, 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. He unloaded the magazine at home, but didn't realize a bullet was still in the chamber, Lt. Eric Hermick said. His son, Craig Allen Loughrey, was shot in the chest and died at the scene.

State police Lt. Eric Hermick said Sunday the father had secured a rifle in the back of the truck and placed his pistol on the console when the handgun went off. Hermick said police are reviewing surveillance video from the store, which helped lay out the chain of events; the video is not being released.

"It is very clear-cut exactly what transpired here," Hermick said of what he called clearly an accident. "As he's laying it down, it discharges."

See, the gun can just go off ("I didn't know there was a bullet in it") and it's not your fault in any way. But if you killed your son with your hands or a knife, that would be another matter, a criminal matter without a shadow of doubt. What a country.

 

Comments (52) RSS

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NotSean 1
What horror.
Posted by NotSean on December 10, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
Lew Siffer 2
As a former infantryman, and long time gun owner...you always check the chamber, it's the first thing you should do.
Posted by Lew Siffer on December 10, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 3
He might still go to prison. They haven't even started investigating it yet.
The Mercer County coroner ruled the boy's death an accident on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The results of the investigation will be given to Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems, Hermick said. A message left with Kochems was not immediately returned Sunday.

Hermick said the father was very distraught and cooperative; he said he doubts there will be charges, but that it's up to the district attorney. The father could face charges, including involuntary manslaughter, Hermick said.
I think if the father was holding a knife, and accidentally dropped it and it stabbed the kid in the heart and killed him, they'd do the same investigation.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on December 10, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 4
Kids die accidentally all the time. The particular method does not make their death any more (or any less) tragic. Just because a child (gasp!) can die accidentally from something does not mean it should be prohibited. If that were the case electricity would have been banned years ago along with gas appliances, automobiles, bicycles and drapery cords. Do you really want to live in a child-proofed society?

That said, if you have evidence to suggest that this child was intentional killed by his father (as your headline implies), you have a moral obligation to provide that evidence to the appropriate authorities. Otherwise your moral obligation would be to not heap more pain on what must already be an unbearably painful situation.

Ha! As if you had any moral fiber (much less the capacity for basic empathy).
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on December 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM · Report this
5
Not all gun owners are morons, but it seems morons are magnetically attracted to guns. And breeding.
Posted by tiktok on December 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM · Report this
6
I really don't get gun owners who don't understand how their weapon works. It was also interesting that the gun store didn't have him clear his weapon if he was attempting to sell it. That's pretty sloppy on their part. (Maybe they just told him no before they handled the firearm)
Posted by kmq1 on December 10, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
7
More kids die in pools every year. Should we ban pools and arrest their owners?
Posted by Ian Smith on December 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Asparagus! 8
I'm probably more gun friendly than most of the non-troll slog commenters, but this is the end result of 25 years of the gun lobby saying that guns aren't dangerous. People don't treat them with respect.
Posted by Asparagus! on December 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 9
I guess you are just being willingly naive to make a point, but, had he accidently left his car in neutral, and it ran over his kid killing him, there would not be charges either, most likely.

Also, accidental stabbings do not always result in charges:
http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/01/16/ma…

And accidental discharges sometimes do:
http://www.witn.com/countycloseups/edgec…

So you have cherry picked this one tragedy in order to use it to make a political point which is untrue to begin with. You were either unwilling or unable to do any research on this idea of yours. These were simply the first results that come from a two minute Google search, that you could not be bothered to do.

Mudede-style journalism at its finest, people.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 10, 2012 at 9:42 AM · Report this
10
Want to cut gun murders in half in the US? Keep them out of the hands of the 6% of Americans who commit half the gun murders in America.
Posted by Ian Smith on December 10, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
internet_jen 11
How do we start slut shameing these people?
Posted by internet_jen on December 10, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 12
FYI: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1- 4. Nearly 750 children ages 14 and under died in 2007 in the U.S. due to an unintentional drowning. In addition, in 2009 there was an estimated 5,016 children injured due to a near drowning incident.
Let’s get the real killer of children under control first!
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on December 10, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 13
If you really want to be serious about addressing the causes of avoidable accidental death, you would do better to spend your energy elsewhere.

May I suggest getting the top 5 killers (all ages) under control first?:

1.) Motor Vehicle Incidents (42,000 annual deaths)
2.) Poisoning (39,000 annual deaths)
3.) Falls (25,000 annual deaths)
4.) Fires (2,700 annual deaths)
5.) Choking (Approximately 2,500 deaths per year)

Once you tackle these, then I’ll support your (cynical) crusade to prevent accidental shootings (600 annual deaths).
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on December 10, 2012 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 14
@2

The NRA would beg to differ.

Checking the chamber as far as they're concerned is nothing more than a suggestion. You don't even have to prove you are aware a bullet could be in the chamber. Or know what a "bullet" or a "chamber" is. Or even know which end the bullets come out of. Gun ownership is an absolute right. Intelligent gun ownership is a frill.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on December 10, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 15
negligent homicide. man 2 at the least. but what good is prison going to do? he already bears the guilt.
Posted by Max Solomon on December 10, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
16
so how many people went to prison for the 1,000,000 children killed by abortions last year?
Posted by How to Kill Your Child and Not End Up in Prison on December 10, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
ObeyTheFist 17
This is a total dick post, Charles. Unless you have information to the contrary, which you've failed to disclose, this was a tragic accident. Some careless idiot causes the death of his child and you take it upon yourself to turn it into an opportunity for a political statement and passively accuse the guy of murder. Gross.
Posted by ObeyTheFist on December 10, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
18
Every day I wish that slog had a way to block the Charles posts so I didn't accidentally read them.
Posted by Jen in Madison on December 10, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
Hernandez 19
@2, 5, 6, 8 and 14 make the right points here. One reason why the concept of personal gun ownership leaves such a sour taste in many Americans' mouths is because of idiots like this guy who carry their guns everywhere without knowing how those guns even work, or how to store and operate them safely. Why? It's the double standard. We always crow about "personal responsibilty" in this country, but never when it applies to firearm ownership. American hypocrisy at its finest. What a waste.
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on December 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
smade 20
@13
1) Extensive traffic control laws and penalties exist for irresponsible use of cars even when that use doesn't result in injury or death. Also, cars are immensely useful for things other than killing.

2) Extensive laws govern the use of toxic substances and there is a long-term ongoing effort to make these laws more effective. No one suggests that poisons don't need strict control. And many toxic substances have useful properties that don't involve killing people.

3) Where man-made items are deemed to be unsafe due to falling hazards there are numerous regulations governing how these items are to be manufactured and what safety measures must be taken to reduce risk.

4) Whole municipal departments are devoted to the reduction of death due to fire. The manufacture of clothing and other items are strictly regulated to reduce fire risk. Most jurisdictions have very strict rules about when and where open flames can be used. The use of electrical wiring is governed by a voluminous code designed specifically to minimize the risk of fire and electrocution. Fire is extremely useful for applications that don't involve killing people.

5) Eating and drinking is mandatory. The Heimlich maneuver was invented specifically to reduce the number of deaths from choking.

Guns are useful for little other than killing or threatening people or killing animals. However, when there are suggestions that the regulation of the use and ownership of guns might be a good idea, the idea is stomped down flat with extreme prejudice by people who think the regulation of gun ownership is tantamount to complete confiscation and prohibition. I support private ownership of guns, but only a fool or a blind zealot thinks regulation is useless or evil.
More...
Posted by smade on December 10, 2012 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Agent Michael Scarn 21
If that poor kid had his own gun, this never would have happened.

/NRA'd
Posted by Agent Michael Scarn http://twitter.com/Jukebox_Hobo on December 10, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Banna 22
That's why I only try to sell my guns at Twigs Unloading Den.
Posted by Banna http://www.ucp.org on December 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
23
@20 Very well done.

@21 FTW!!
Posted by cracked on December 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
sirkowski 24
Guns don't kill people. People kill peop... oh, wait. Nevermind. Guns do kill people.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on December 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 25
I was going to point out what Smade @20 did very well.

The swimming pool industry, for example, does not have a large, well-funded lobby that aggressively blocks pool-safety regulations while shrieking about their rights.

No one denies that other things kill more people per year than handguns. But to use that to justify a lack of action (even having a discussion) on handgun safety is utter foolishness.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on December 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 26
I remember a case while living in Germany a few years ago: a young boy brought his father's rifle to school and shot up the classroom, killing one of his classmates. His father was sentenced with manslaughter for not properly securing his weapons.

There's nothing astonishing about the current case - we live in a culture which values gun ownership more absolutely than the responsibility to use them.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on December 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Bruce Garrett 27
What 19 said. Also this: most modern handguns have built-in safety mechanisms that prevent an accidental discharge. Plus, semi-automatic pistols have a safety. So if the gun goes off "accidentally" it's because 1) if it had a safety you had that safety off when it should have been on and 2) you had your finger on the trigger.

I read this crap about police guns going off "accidentally" all the time and it's infuriating because they get away with it because lots of people don't understand how modern firearms have these safety mechanisms in them designed to prevent that from happening. Transfer bars and hammer blocks in revolvers, safeties, grip safeties, sear blocks, and such in semi-automatics. You need to defeat these to allow the gun to fire, and usually part of defeating them is you have your finger on the trigger.

It's like how drunk driving is an accident...except really it isn't. You were stupid and careless and you got someone killed and you need to be held accountable for it.
Posted by Bruce Garrett http://brucegarrett.com/brucelog on December 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 28
@14:

http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp

Key passage:
"...if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does."

Being against the NRA and private gun ownership are perfectly fine positions, but telling lies is just bullshit, no matter what side you are on.

If you have to lie to make a point, it is not a point worth making.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Jaymz 29
Negligence, gross negligence, criminal negligence, criminal intent - all different concepts and all dealt with differently in the law. Let's see what the investigation reveals, and allow prosecutorial discretion to sort it out.

I'll actually bootstrap on @23 - praise to @20 and kudos to @21.

Gun regulation just makes sense, including the requirement that all guns be registered and all registered owners pass a test, just like we do for driving motor vehicles.
Posted by Jaymz on December 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
30
@28: I think the point was that the NRA doesn't believe people should have to take classes or demonstrate knowledge on any of these issues before being allowed to own a gun.

It's like if there were a National Car Association that offered up driving safety tips but insisted no one should have to take a test to get a driver's license.
Posted by Orv on December 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 31
@19, simply nailed it and the meaning of this post.
Posted by Charles Mudede on December 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 32
@26, also nails it: "There's nothing astonishing about the current case - we live in a culture which values gun ownership more absolutely than the responsibility to use them."
Posted by Charles Mudede on December 10, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
venomlash 33
@20: Got it in one. Thank you.

Best Mudede post I've seen in ages.
Posted by venomlash on December 10, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 34
@28, here's what @14 said "Checking the chamber as far as they're concerned is nothing more than a suggestion."

You linked to the NRA's suggestions.

You have no right to call anyone a liar.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on December 10, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
35
@27 - care to point out a safety on my Sig 226?
http://i.imgur.com/FS9WQ.png

How about on a Walther PPS? Or Springfield XD? Or any GLOCK, Smith and Wesson M&P, or Ruger subcompact, etc? The point is, a "safety switch" doesn't exist on most semiautomatic pistols that are commonly owned and carried.

The excuse "I didn't think it was loaded" isn't valid. You always treat guns as if they're loaded until you've personally checked them and left them like in the picture above (magazine removed, slide racked back). In group firearm training, this means any "unloaded" firearm must be unloaded in a safe direction and the breach shown to all participants.

This tool violated 3 of the 4 essential gun rules (and probably the 4th, but that's irrelevant here):
1) he assumed it was unloaded
2) he had his finger on the trigger
3) he had it pointed in an unsafe direction

Posted by Tawnos on December 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
36
Keep this in mind when some The Stranger comes to the defense of some hipster who's being accused of giving his buddy tainted cocaine.
Posted by fetish on December 10, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
37
In my mid sized town in the south, twice in 2012, people have purchased hand guns at a gun show, gone to the parking garage, loaded the weapon, and accidentally shot themselves. Which makes me wonder how many people accidentally fired their new guns the same way without hitting anybody.
Posted by MikeB on December 10, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
38
There is something that disturbs me about this story and similar stories in which people accidently kill their own children: often no charges are filed.

Given identical circumstances, if the victim were anyone but the negligent party's own child, wouldn't charges be filed without fail? Consider if the 7-year-old who died in this story were anyone else's child. Surely in such a case charges would definitely be filed and there would probably also be hard jail time after the inevitable guilty verdict.

The leniency shown in cases in which people kill their own children suggests that the children were chattel - the parent's property - rather than human beings in their right with their own right to live. Is it any less a crime just because the child who died was his own? His owned child?

Or am I totally wrong and the criminal justice process would be the same if it were the neighbor's 7-year-old who caught the bullet?
Posted by Charlie Mas on December 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Bruce Garrett 39
@35: What you have on the Sig, as I read the literature, is decocking lever in lieu of a safety, and once that is used, according to the literature I read (I do not own one of those), the weapon is then "drop safe", meaning the firing pin is blocked from striking a round unless the trigger is pulled. Blocking the firing pin from striking unless the trigger is pulled is a very common mechanical means of preventing accidental discharges on modern firearms. And after the hammer is decocked you would need to do a double action pull to get it to fire...which I would imagine is kinda hard to do "accidentally".

But never mind...as you say, he violated three of the four rules for gun safety, but it's rule #2 that I'm going on about here because there seems to be this widespread misconception about the ease of which guns can go off by accident that allows people to get away with blaming the gun for their own stupid carelessness...when it's even that. No: he would have had his finger on the trigger. That was no accident, any more then turning the key in your ignition drunk is an accident. It was carelessness, and it got a kid killed.
Posted by Bruce Garrett http://brucegarrett.com/brucelog on December 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM · Report this
40
@39, I agree with your overall assessment, but when most people refer to a "safety" they're thinking of a lever which acts as either a trigger disconnect, hammer block, or striker block. I make the pedantic correction because of the common misconception that you, clearly, don't share. Namely, many people who are unfamiliar with firearms will say something like "make sure the safety is on" when asked for how to check if a gun is safe.

None of the pistols I listed have any form of external switch safety, pull the trigger and they'll fire. The XD, GLOCK, and PPS will fire without that much trigger pull (all are around 6lbs stock), so it's important to clear the misconception that a "safety" is anything but a finger kept off the trigger.
Posted by Tawnos on December 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
NotSean 41
@38 I have the very same questions.
Posted by NotSean on December 10, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
42
I agree with the police on this one. This was an accident. The guy was careless with his gun and it went off--it should have been locked up when not in use--but that's not murder.
Posted by DRF on December 10, 2012 at 6:35 PM · Report this
43
@21,

That was actually funny!
Posted by Patricia Kayden on December 11, 2012 at 3:46 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 44
@34: Since the NRA does not make laws (you know that right?) anything they say is technically a "suggestion." The point is that the NRA, like them or not, does believe in gun safety and does provide a lot of materials and courses to teach gun safety.

Why the hell would they want accidental or purposeful gun violence? It is detrimental to their group and political ideology.

How stupid are you?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 11, 2012 at 6:11 AM · Report this
MK1 45
@44 You're right the NRA doesn't make laws. They pour obscene amounts of money into preventing any kind of law that would regulate gun ownership from being passed. They can "believe" in gun safety all they want but as long as they actively oppose legislating gun safety we can all feel free to believe that they care more about the rights of irresponsible gun owners than the rights of everyone else not to get shot by them.
Posted by MK1 on December 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 46
@44- The NRA is an gun advocacy group that does not advocate for strict gun safety regulations, in fact they actively work against any such thing. They suggest you behave safely, but don't want enforcement for it. This is what @14 pointed out and what you failed to refute.

Now go fuck yourself.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on December 11, 2012 at 1:22 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 47
@11, 21: Nice.

@19, 20, 27: +1

@42: manslaughter, negligent homicide <> murder

Piling on ...

A loaded gun sitting on the dash "just went off" ? What the fuck does that mean? I'd like to know what kind of gun it is, and how, exactly, that kind of gun can "just go off" when it's not being touched. Even a cocked single-action pistol with a round in the chamber will not "just go off" if it sitting there untouched. I'm not even considering the fact that it was pointed at his kid in the first place.

I'm not saying he shot his kid on purpose, but, based on this limited information, I'm guessing the gun was in hand when it went off.
Posted by aureolaborealis on December 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 48
Oh, and @14: +1
Posted by aureolaborealis on December 11, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 49
@45, 46:

I was responding to one person who stated that the NRA does not care about gun safety, and did not encourage people to check the chamber for bullets. I then linked to the NRA's website which proved the exact opposite. If you need to believe the NRA wants piles of dead babies everywhere, that is your business, but the rest of us have to live in the real world.

Bring up new and unrelated arguments and semantic distinctions if you want, but you are not even on topic anymore. Legislation and lobbying is a totally different issue. I am not in the NRA, I do not support the NRA, and I think they are a shitty organization for many of the reasons you mentioned. But telling lies about them does not advance the conversation, even if it makes you personally happy to demonize others.

Go back to defending and protecting pedophiles Dwight Moody, it is what you do best:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 12, 2012 at 5:55 AM · Report this
50
#38, as to why parents are not charged for accidental deaths while non-parents are...your chattel idea makes some sense, but I think perhaps it also has to do with empathy. The idea is that this guy killed his own child; his life is destroyed. No punishment could be worse than that, so why bother charging him? At least, this idea applies to white people.
This happened recently in Vermont. A young man decided to wake up his sleeping friend by pointing a gun at him and pulling the trigger. He thought it was a paintball gun; it was a rifle. Well, the friend died of course. The killer was only sentenced to a year in prison for the sort of empathetic reasoning described above.
It would be interesting to research what percent of "accidental," negligent deaths of children by parents result in criminal charges being filed, and to study the convictions and sentences. I'll bet you a thousand bucks that black parents get charged and convicted far more often than whites do. And I'm pretty sure that mothers who kill through negligence are treated far more harshly than fathers.
Posted by Drusilla on December 12, 2012 at 7:29 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 51
@49- Insults, obfuscations, slander and attempts at misdirection don't hide the fact you called someone a liar for telling the truth.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on December 12, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
52
I've read of parents being charged for withholding medical care from their sick children, if the kid died from it. I doubt they got much (if any) jail time, but I think the prosecutor wanted to make an example of them. I've also read of parents charged when their kid was killed in a car accident and they didn't have him secured in a child safety seat. (The kid was sick, and Mom was holding him while Dad drove them to the pharmacy.)

I see no particular reason why this man can't be charged with something.
Posted by clashfan on December 12, 2012 at 9:44 PM · Report this

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