Across the country, fatalities from egregious gun negligence go unprosecuted. Casey Wilson of Missouri closed one eye and fired a gun at a pile of trash, in the direction of a highway, and killed four-year-old Zoie Dougan who was playing out of immediate sight. Wilson was not prosecuted.

Getting away with gun negligence has become almost easy. Due to the 2005 Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act, gun manufacturers and dealers are protected from the same kinds of negligence that other manufacturers are sued for daily.

Unfortunately, fatal gun negligence often goes unpunished. This presents two issues. Andrew McClurg, law professor at the University of Memphis, explains that the lack of prosecution and failure of the courts to hold gun owners accountable results in a perceived “right to negligence.” Additionally, the lack of prosecution means negligent gun users have nothing on their records preventing them from obtaining firearms.

While gun negligence remains a civil issue, there will continue to be no substantive actions taken against it. When a girl in New Mexico shoots her sister in the neck with the loaded rifle her father handed to her, the father will go unprosecuted unless he decides to sue himself. Without a statute, gun negligence is not a crime. Don Kleine, attorney for Douglas County, Nebraska, states, “If we want to charge something we have to have a statute somewhere…we have to have a law to enforce.”

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