Soldier cleans .45. Soldier has a negligent discharge, which hits his wife in the breast then goes down into the apartment below his.
It always amazes me when people assume that police and military must be proficient with firearms. Um, no. Most people in the military don't have "tactical" jobs that require them to deal with weapons on a daily basis. Even the ones that do are familiarized with the weapons they use and not necessarily others. The average enlisted Joe (not an MP) may not be qualified on the M9 or have received much or any pistol training much less fam fire. When they do receive the military certainly does not do a very good job of training safety rules, marksmanship, or combat pistol skills.
Also note that this soldier lived under a fairly onerous gun control regime like our opponents support: I believe that USARAK still requires off-post soldiers to register weapons (I don't expect that to last long) and store them safely per USARAK policy, off-post soldiers are still forbidden from concealed carry (also should be changing soon), "parking lot carry" at the place of work is obviously forbidden, there's mandatory education and background checks. None of those things worked. The National Academy of Sciences has said that they don't work in reducing mayhem on a larger scale either, so this isn't surprising. They'll use this incident to screech for more bigoted gun control efforts to keep the guns away from "those people" even though this incident highlights that none of those gun control efforts they want actually work.
Luckily, this soldier has been charged with two felonies (Misconduct Involving Weapons 3 and Assault 3). I imagine that the assault charges could be dropped by his wife, but the MIW3 charge certainly could stick. If convicted, this would make him a prohibited person which would likely have a high degree of impact on his army career. It would also keep his neighbors safe from negligent discharges in the future.
Interestingly though, I see no obvious violation of MIW 3. I assume that neither individual was a felon in possession which would count. The pistol could have been a prohibited weapon, he could have been drunk, or he could have fired from a moving vehicle. MIW2 covers discharge of a weapon towards a dwelling, so I'm wondering if they stepped the charge down from MIW2 to MIW3 so that they can plead him out on a misdemeanor.
Frankly, I don't know what the right charge is. On one hand, should a single ND be a life altering event? You could argue that it should, as it certainly has an impact on others around you (especially if that stray round hits someone). On the other hand, without criminal intent there is no "guilty mind" which limits the charges to negligence. A high grade misdemeanor or low grade felony seems appropriate.
However, the fact that he fled the scene, didn't take responsibility for his round and initially lied to officers makes me inclined to endorse the maximum charge possible. What if he had hit someone downstairs and they had bled out while he was busy fleeing instead of calling 911 or checking on his neighbors? However, there could be some extentuating factors.
As always, education education education. The four rules are there for a reason!
Forbes Article on Why NRA Won
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