Las Vegas man reminds us why we treat every gun as loaded

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The very first lesson I was taught regarding guns is the first one I teach anyone who asks me to help them learn to shoot. Rule one: Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded, even if you’re positive it isn’t.

A lot of people know that rule and yet don’t always do a good job of acting like it. Most of the time, they are able to learn from the experience. Sometimes, they can share their experiences so others can learn from them too.

So long as no one gets hurt, I believe such mistakes can be turned into positives if they help others to not make them.

Unfortunately, not every such situation works out so well.

A Las Vegas man said he thought a gun was unloaded as he pointed it at his friend, shooting and killing him, according to an arrest report.

Matthew Stafford faces a charge on involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of Chris Campise on March 10.

Police were called to an apartment on Gilcrease Ave. around 7 p.m. March 10 to reports of a man shot. The first called said he and his friends were drinking when a gun went off, shooting Campise in the head. The caller identified Stafford as the shooter.

At the same time, Stafford called 911, the report said. Police said Stafford “was hysterical and screaming for help. He was heard crying and apologizing to Chris while speaking with the dispatcher,” the report said.

Apparently, alcohol and marijuana were involved, so it’s not difficult to see just how something like this can happen. Substances that inhibit your judgment and firearms aren’t a great combination, and stuff like this is the result.

Campise was pronounced dead at the scene and it really looks like Stafford–I’m pretty sure we’re not talking about the LA Rams quarterback here–is going to prison.

And, frankly, he should.

Look, I don’t like it when someone is involved in a justified shooting and gets hauled off to jail because they were drinking at home when someone tried to break into their house. It’s happened. This isn’t that, though.

No, these were some people smoking and drinking and playing with guns until one of them ended up dead. While I don’t think this is murder, it sure as hell sounds like involuntary manslaughter, which is what Stafford is charged with. I think his attorneys are going to have a very difficult time trying to somehow argue he’s innocent of these particular charges.

At best, they can plea down to a lesser offense and hope he avoids a felony charge.

Under the circumstances–both pot and alcohol being consumed before the guns came out–I’m not so sure. Then again, Nevada allows recreational use of marijuana, so they may decide that doesn’t constitute extenuating circumstances.

Either way, Campise is still dead and it’s a firm reminder to always treat guns as if they’re loaded…

…and you shouldn’t handle them when you’re loaded, either. Failing either of these could be fatal for someone you care about, including yourself.