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Letter: Accident no reason to file criminal charges

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Gregg Macklin


I have read with interest the letters about the accidental shooting at Walmart last month. I have also followed and participated in the discussions of each letter online, and I am appalled at some of the people who are demanding criminal charges be filed. Their basic take on this is that guns are bad, all accidents are criminal negligence, and I do not care what the law says about it; charge him anyway.

Far too many seem to think all accidents are the result of criminal negligence on the part of the person who had the accident. One individual was so bold as to state she has never had an accident.

One kept posting laws specific to criminal negligence occurring during a criminal act, completely ignoring that the individual was in lawful possession of a CCW permit and his weapon, going about the noncriminal act of legally purchasing goods in a store.

When that was challenged, he posted yet another law, this one specific to hazing. Then he states there are new laws that cover this incident taking effect later, that it was still a crime and that he should be charged. My question is: Are we making laws as we go so we can charge someone under a law that has yet to be written?

As disturbing as wanting charges brought with laws that are not yet written or in effect, the following quote should scare each one of us to our core: “But he should have been charged, then proven his innocence, which would be hard to prove due to the accurate facts of culpability in this case.”

Have we, as a society become so uncivilized that we have abandoned our most basic precept of criminal law, innocent until proven guilty? This precept is a requirement as the foundation of our criminal justice system.

The state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accident was criminally negligent on the part of the person carrying the weapon. From the report in The Republic, the CPD and DA did not feel they could meet the requirements of the law and declined to file charges.

As to being accurate, has he read the report by the CPD? No offense to The Republic, but how is he sure the reported facts are accurate? Was it an accident? I defer to the DA and those of the CPD who investigated the incident.

To those who insist that the accident was criminal, I ask them: What do you know about the individual, his method of carry, the weapon he was carrying and his specific actions that led to the weapon firing unintentionally? And if you had or have this information, why have you not come forward and reported it to the police or DA?

Accidents happen to honest people, and we need to tread with care in calling for people’s heads. There but for the grace of God go we all.

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