Ask Judge Troppo

A woman was riding a bike and was shot in the chest with a .22 bullet.   It almost hit her heart, but it didn’t and she was OK.

It transpired that the accused person was cleaning their .22 rifle on their front porch and the gun accidentally discharged. The accused was charted with some offence such as ‘recklessly discharging a firearm endangering life’.
What, if anything, should be the accused’s sentence?

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Kieran Bennett
15 years ago

The individual was reckless, they were cleaning a rifle on the front porch failing to ensure the safety of passers by.

A moderate amount of community sentence (they should make amends to the community they endangered), remove firearms license from individual, order individual to dispose of rifle (individuals who do not practice basic gun safety are a danger to the community and should not own a firearm). No recorded conviction.

Francis X Holden
15 years ago

You can’t clean a gun if it is loaded.

Why do we hear this bullshit about cleaning guns all the time.

You take it apart as far as is possible and you pull or push thing through the barrel.

Wiping a gun down on the outside isn’t cleaning it.

Anyway a rifle is not a gun.

Repeat after me. With hand actions.

THIS is my rifle
THIS is my gun
One is for shooting
One is for fun

re the case. The guy is an idiot, as yet we have no laws barring being an idiot, so we need to put up with low rise jeans, muffin tops, skivvies, beanies, idiots with babies on bikes on busy roads, and numskulls with rifles in suburbia.

Take his rifle. Take his gun licence. Ban him from a gun licence or gun for 10 years. Convict of reckless injury endangering life or something like that. Suspended sentence of 3 months. Make sure he doesn’t own pit bull or a 4 WD. Check that he is paying child support to his 2 already abandoned kids. Slap a canary on his car and force him to be vascectomised.

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

<nitpick>Shouldn’t that title be Tell Judge Troppo?</nitpick>

Anyway, for mine, the answer is easy-peasy the idiot should serve a two year CBO, training with Australia’s Penis Gourd Fencing squad. ‘Nuff said.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Is this a real case or hypothetical? Doesn’t sound like much of an accident to me.

Lin
Lin
15 years ago

As an ex-military person I think that this was a case of reckless injury just short of manslaughter. Pure and simple. There is no excuse for doing that. Something like 2 years inside with another 3 suspended. Too many people do things that endanger other’s lives like this—and don’t think that the woman is unharmed. How do we know that her future life is not affected by being shot? It certainly has been so far.

Living in Canberra
15 years ago

Certainly deserves at least 2-4 years in jail to contemplate his stupidity. Not to mention the woman should sue his arse off for any damage she has suffered through his gross negligence.

I reckon gun ownership, particularly in an urban environment, should carry strict liability for any wrong done with the gun, ie the gun does harm, the owner is responsible criminally and civilly, regardless of intent, negligence, recklessness etc. You want a gun, keeping it and using it safely is absolutely your responsibility.

Francis X Holden
15 years ago

yobbo – it’s a recent Melbourne case.

I didn’t know the gun was loaded
But regarding the gun that I toted
All I did was hold it high and go …
BANG, PING, HUHH, ZSSS
I’ll never, never do it again

INSTRUMENTAL

Yes the jury all agreed
That Miss Effie should be freed

But the sheriff’s jealous wife
Was indignant (yes, indeed)
So she borrowed a pistol
And shot this village belle
And sang as Miss Effie fell

I didn’t know the gun was loaded
And I’m so sorry my friend
I didn’t know the gun was loaded
And I’ll never, never do it again

I Didn’t Know The Gun Was Loaded
Hank Fort & Herb Leighton 1949

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

Nicholas – if its a genuine accident then I don’t see the point of imposing a custodial sentence.

The fact that a gun was used doesn’t change the fact that

A:) It was an accident
B:) No permanent damage was caused

It just seemed to me that the story in the original post seemed to suggest it was unlikely to be an accident.

If it was a cricket ball that hit her in the head – narrowly missing her temple, which could also have killed her – then would we even be asking this question?

Would the offendor even have been charged?
I doubt it.

Hatred and fear of guns is the driving force behind this discussion.

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

I’d say it’s more likely contempt for idiots with guns that’s driving the discussion.

Oh and how does a gun that isn’t cocked, and has the safety catch on, manage to “accidentally discharge”? Even my antiquated school cadet corps .303 couldn’t manage that.

“Accidental discharge” my arse.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
15 years ago

A query for the lawyers: if the crown prosecutes this and secures a conviction, how does it affect the victim’s right to pursue civil litigation?

tyn50
15 years ago

If you have a common sense, you wouldn’t be cleaning a loaded gun and in your
porch. So in my analysis. The person may not have common sense or the
shooting was purely intentional.

Dan
Dan
15 years ago

James: I think it helps, since the criminal case has a higher burden of proof.

It’s always frustrated me that the law draws distinctions between offences based on outcomes that might have nothing whatsoever to do with the actions of the offender. If this guy had been cleaning the same gun in the same place in the same way and the bullet had happened to kill this woman, then you’d be dealing with a different class of offence, despite the fact that nothing the offender did was any different. A bit like how a serious GBH changes into manslaughter when a victim happens to die, even though the offender’s actual actions probably had little to do with the difference in outcome. Similarly with culpable driving — it seems to me that it should be prosecuted the same whether it causes death or not. The luck that you had when you avoided hitting someone while you were driving culpably should not mitigate the seriousness of the offence, imho.

Francis X Holden
15 years ago

It is important to note that as far as anyone familiar with firearms is concerned it is not possible “to accidently discharge a loaded gun whilst cleaning it”