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Letter: Why no charges in Walmart gun incident?


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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: Jenny Heichelbech

Columbus

It is unthinkable to me that a young mother could get shot in a public place and yet her shooter cannot be charged in any way by the police.

On May 26, in Columbus’ westside Walmart, a man’s loaded gun fell from his pants, discharged and injured a woman pushing a cart carrying her newborn son. Incredibly, it was reported two days later that no charges could be filed by police or the prosecutor against this gun owner because the state of Indiana does not consider it “reckless endangerment” to walk into a busy, public place with a loaded, racked gun and have that gun so unsecured on the body that it drops to the floor, discharges and injures another person.

 

Because of our skewed regulations, state law does not recognize culpability because there was no “intent” to harm and mere negligence does not qualify. If someone had died, charges could have been made, but unless a death occurs there is no law that protects public safety in a situation like this.

Ironically, another headline in the May 26 paper was “Man faces felony after child left in hot car.” Just like the gun owner, I’m sure this father did not intend to hurt his 5-year-old left inside. Just like the gun incident, it was a stupid mistake that could have been deadly, yet this man went to jail with a $10,000 bond facing a Class D felony charge.

Where is the recognition of child endangerment for the baby in the Walmart cart? To add to the double standard, The Republic included a highlighted section on the dangers of hot cars, but in the gun article readers are reminded of gun owners rights — no tips on gun safety.

I feel that all gun owners who carry weapons into public spaces should be required by law to have liability insurance and proof of training, just like a licensed driver. Society recognizes untrained and uninsured drivers on our roads to be a public safety hazard and potential liability, so drivers are required to demonstrate their expertise with a car and provide proof of insurance before being allowed behind the wheel.

Why do we allow untrained gun owners as young as 18 years old to carry their loaded, deadly weapons in public with no required firearm education and no required insurance in the case of an accident? An untrained, uninsured gun owner who carries in public, like an untrained, uninsured motorist, poses a public safety hazard and is dangerous.

With the continued proliferation of guns in our society, situations like that in Walmart will only become more commonplace unless we impose safety measures that are supported and enforced by law. If you are concerned about public gun safety and are unsatisfied with the legal outcome of the Walmart shooting, I urge you to contact Gov. Mike Pence and your other Indiana legislators and ask if they have the political will and courage to make changes for the sake of public safety.

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