Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Remember, People, Guns Don’t Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog …

Prosecutors say a Palatine[, Illinois,] man wanted to lure coyotes with a deer carcass in his backyard and shoot them, but he killed a neighbor’s curious German shepherd instead.
“It’s a residential neighborhood,” said Cmdr. Kurt Schroeder of the Palatine Police Department. “It’s a weird case.”
A Cook County Circuit Court judge today set bond at $40,000 for Piotr Holy, of the 1100 block of Brockway Street, on charges of aggravated cruelty to an animal, obstructing a police officer, reckless conduct, and unlawful discharge of a firearm, according to Assistant State’s Atty. Moe Ahmad.
Authorities say Holy killed a 9-year-old German shepherd named Willy with a single gunshot. The dog had bounded away from its owner, Monica Gliga, who had taken him on a walk in the early hours of Friday morning, authorities said. Willy wandered into Holy’s backyard to investigate the carcass, authorities said.
Holy had set up an elaborate trap for coyotes, rigging the carcass with a motion sensor and an alarm device, Ahmad said. When Willy’s run into the yard set off the motion sensor, it alerted Holy’s wife inside the residence, Ahmad said. She woke Holy, who was sleeping on a couch in the family room, and he picked up a .22 caliber rifle mounted with a telescopic sight, Ahmad said.
Seeing what he thought was a coyote in the trap, Holy fired and hit Willy, Ahmad said. Holy went back to sleep and later told police that he realized it wasn’t a coyote in the trap when he heard the dog yelp, Ahmad said.
At least this time the victim of an accidental shooting was a dog rather than a human being, but still.
This case, like the thousands of accidental shootings of humans that occur every year, underscores a problem that the pro-firearms/anti-firearms regulation folks don’t like to talk about. Mr. Holy’s weapon – a .22 caliber rifle – is the kind of weapon protected by the Second Amendment, according to the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S. Ct. 3020 (2010). So, as long as Mr. Holy went through the proper steps to buy it, he has a right to keep it and to bear it, even though he doesn’t have the right to discharge it in a residential neighborhood or to shoot somebody’s dog with it. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the right to shoot coyotes with it, either, unless he’s protecting himself or another person from an attack.)
Bu the point is, if Mr. Holy bought his .22 rifle from a licensed gun dealer, he had to obtain a Firearms Owner Identification Card, or FOID, issued by the Firearms Services Bureau of the Illinois State Police:
The FOID card is required for any resident of Illinois to possess or purchase firearms. During the FOID application process, the applicant’s identification and background information is checked. Individuals with prohibiting factors are disallowed from obtaining a FOID card.
According to Section 1 of the Firearms Owner Identification Card Act, 430 ILCS 65/1, those “prohibiting factors” are found in Section 24-3.1 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012, 720 ILCS 5/24-3.1, and include being a minor convicted of a non-traffic misdemeanor, being convicted of a felony at any age, being a narcotics addict, having been a patient in a mental hospital within the past five years, and being “intellectually disabled.”
Of course, there’s no reason to believe that any of those “prohibiting factors” applied to Mr. Holy. And therein lies the problem, because that list of prohibiting factors doesn’t include being a jackass who wants to shoot coyotes in a residential neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of winter when it’s still dark outside. Those prohibiting factors are designed to keep firearms away from the people who obviously shouldn’t have them, but they can’t keep firearms out of the hands of people who simply lack good judgment. There’s no way to screen for that.
So you can keep guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill people – assuming the background checks actually work to screen for those things – but you can’t keep guns out of the hands of people who are careless, or stupid, or stupidly macho, or who think that the solution to all of life’s problems, including coyotes, is not simply to keep and bear arms, but to shoot them whenever possible.
Look, I’m not trying to re-litigate the scope of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court’s rulings are the law of the land. But if we’re going to have people like Mr. Holy running around with otherwise legal firearms, maybe the gun lobby needs to calm the hell down and stop trying to encourage people to shoot everything in sight. Maybe what we need is more reasoned discussion of firearms and regulations, and less flat-out crazy, hysterically inaccurate, delusionally hyperbolic nonsense like this piece by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre published today at The Daily Caller.
Unless, of course, flat-out crazy, hysterically inaccurate, and delusionally hyperbolic is all they’ve got.


  1. Dave:

    Three different "accidents" (I'm being charitable here):

    Guy shoots neighbor's dog because he thinks its a coyote--which means that he couldn't see it very clearly. Prolly gonna get a nasty fine and maybe a little jail time (doubtful).

    Guy in PA shoots his 7 YO with a pistol he was sure was "unloaded". Tragic accident, county prosecutor will not be filing any charges.

    Dallas football player involved in DUI accident in which friend and teammate is injured and dies. He be goin' to jail most likely AND losing most of his life.

    But we need to remember that hazzin' teh gunz is a RIGHT whereas driving is a privilege. Right.

  2. I have been thinking of all the men I've encountered over my years as a nurse who are paralyzed or otherwise horribly injured by guns. They pay the highest price, but we all pay lifetime insurance for their disability. That's why it's clear to me that gun owners need to pay liability insurance.

  3. Yes, but it's the owner of the dogs fault for letting it roam around other people's yards. And it's perfectly legal to shoot coyotes. He was most likely doing it to keep them away from his chickens, or to prevent an attack on his or neighbors pets