The Blame Game: The Death of American Accountability

This morning I propped up my favorite rifle on its bipod by the front door, supplied it with a full box of .300 AAC Blackout rounds, and left it to its own supposedly nefarious devices. Much to my amazement, the rifle did not load its magazine, slip out the door, and embark on a bloody killing spree. After all, the standard party line of those in the anti-gun crowd involves blaming the gun itself, and the implication is quite clearly that firearms are capable of violent acts entirely on their own. My guns have apparently missed the memo.

“A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.” Larry Elder

Blame is a part of life, regardless of the topic at hand. But, when it comes to firearms, blame seems to have a way of shifting firmly onto the inanimate object rather than on the person wielding it. Control the gun itself, people say, and the problem will be solved – as if people’s violent tendencies will be effectively quelled by removing one choice of weapon. Despite this being what many see as a ridiculous thought process, it continues, and, in fact, seems to gain speed as time passes. It is not limited to criminals, either. When it comes to guns, everyone is fair game.

Last winter, Veronica J. Rutledge, a 29-year-old mother in Idaho, was shopping with her toddler when the child reached into her purse, withdrew her pistol, and made the one-in-a-thousand shot that killed the woman. The bullet struck the young woman in the head, and death must have been instantaneous. Even so, the child is undoubtedly scarred for life because, even though he’s young, that’s not an image that can easily be scrubbed from his memory. It was a horrible tragedy, and one the mainstream media and anti-gun crowds were quick to pounce on.

Veronica J. Rutledge
Veronica J. Rutledge

In the days to follow her death, blame was flung about every which way. For some the fault was in the purse, which was a brand new concealed carry purse she’d been given for Christmas. The purse was made by a company called Gun Tote’n Mamas and was designed with an extra zippered pocket to hold a gun. Some criticized the purse for not having a holster, saying a pocket alone was and is an ineffective means of securing a firearm, while others discussed the importance of on-body carry. Next up were critiques of the gun, a 9mm Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. That particular handgun can be purchased with or without a thumb safety and reports of the incident failed to confirm whether or not Rutledge’s particular pistol had a thumb safety. Critics of the gun argued about the need for external safeties or debated the issue of carrying a firearm with a round chambered. But it didn’t end there.

It was Rutledge herself who was criticized perhaps the heaviest. The fact that so many people were comfortable blaming the victim within hours of the shooting is a statement of the mindset of many Americans, and it isn’t a pretty one at all. Here the blame covered everything from the aforementioned purse and firearm issues to the right and wrong ways to carry as a parent to questioning Rutledge’s own firearms proficiency, and the list went on (for the record, Rutledge was fairly proficient, having spent significant time at the range with her husband on a regular basis). Rutledge’s case wasn’t unique, though. Americans are always looking to point the finger at someone, anyone.

Recently, a toddler riding in the backseat of a car discovered a loaded pistol and proceeded to squeeze the trigger, shooting his grandmother in the back. The grandmother survived, probably because the .357 round traveled through the passenger side car seat before striking her, but the case is far from over. Interestingly, the great aunt driving the vehicle made a stop at a residence, presumably to drop off the child, before taking the injured woman to the hospital for treatment. At this time, police are deciding whether or not to press charges due to the gun’s being improperly stored and apparently easily accessible by the child – oh, and the boy wasn’t in a carseat, either, although he was seat-belted in. The critics are already coming out of the woodwork on this one, full of sage advice and incredible wisdom borne of what must be minutes spent Googling firearms and their uses. Not to say there aren’t experienced shooters among the critics, because there are, but there are an inordinate number of armchair warriors in the keyboard-critic crowd.

It doesn’t end there, of course. There is also a case in Wisconsin that ended in a ruling that could wreak serious havoc on the firearms community at large. A pair of police officers decided to sue a gun store for the sin of selling a gun, saying the gun that was sold was used to shoot them. The gun was legally purchased, yes, but it was not wielded by the buyer, it was used by someone else. Of course there is more to this case – prosecutors claim that particular store has a known history of approving questionable sales – but the bottom line is simple: blame. Rather than blame the shooter, these officers have chosen to go all the way back to blaming the store that originally sold the gun, even though the person they sold it to did not participate in the shooting. Why not just go all out and blame the gun manufacturer? Oh, wait…

“Yes, people pull the trigger – but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.” Eliot Spitzer

BushmasterAfter the Sandy Hook shooting, certain family members decided to sue the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR used by Adam Lanza. The lawsuit was filed based on the grounds that the rifle was of a “military style” and therefore should not be sold to the general public. But wait, there’s more. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced that she believes the families of those killed in shootings should be given the right to sue gun manufacturers. One wonders if it’s ever occurred to Clinton for victims of drunk drivers to sue alcohol companies or, even better, car manufacturers.

Blame. It’s become a favorite American pastime to find blame, passing the buck so responsibility cannot possibly fall on their own shoulders or, god forbid, those of the actual person responsible for specific actions. It isn’t his fault, they say, he was beaten/ignored/given an Easy-Bake Oven as a child. He’s mentally ill, his religion is being disrespected, he’s a member of a minority, his birthday falls on the 6th day of the 6th month. Finding something to blame rather than blaming someone for their actions is almost a sport, it’s so widely participated and believed in at this point. There’s always something to blame and, if there isn’t anything obvious, don’t worry, something will be found no matter how bizarre and far-fetched it may be.

That’s because this isn’t just about blame; it’s about accountability. The lack of taking responsibility for one’s actions has escalated in recent years, and that’s not to say previous generations were perfect by any means, but things have certainly gotten worse. It really isn’t that difficult to see when someone is wrong – or batshit crazy – and, in the case of violent shootings, there may as well be a red flashing arrow hanging over the perpetrator’s head. Here, the sign should read, here is the one responsible for all the suffering and horror. Here is where the blame lies, here and nowhere else. Not on the gun, not on the victims and how they did or did not behave in their final moments, but right here, on the shooter.

In the cases of the aforementioned toddlers accidentally shooting adults with unsecured firearms, blame is a bit trickier. It is, after all, the responsibility of the gun’s owner to keep it under control. A toddler doesn’t know the object in their hands can be used for deadly purposes, and they certainly cannot be blamed for what follows. Even so, it is not the fault of the concealed carry purse or the firearm itself. When it comes to the victims, well, they’ve paid the ultimate price, haven’t they?

“The media insist that crime is the major concern of the American public today. In this connection they generally push the point that a disarmed society would be a crime-free society. They will not accept the truth that if you take all the guns off the street you still will have a crime problem, whereas if you take the criminals off the street you cannot have a gun problem.” Col. Jeff Cooper

Shooters such as those responsible for school shootings and other evil massacres should be held 100% accountable for their actions. Not an iota of blame should be shifted onto the firearms; neither should blame be shifted to the gun’s source. Guns on their own don’t do a thing other than sit around taking up space. Anyone who claims otherwise is trying to sell you something – typically a gun control law.

Concealed PurseIt’s human nature to pick apart and analyze these incidents. It’s absolutely normal to discuss things like concealed carry purses, holster, and modes of carry in the wake of a tragic shooting – and, in fact, in some ways it’s good. Although it’s sad that it takes a tragedy to generate these discussions, they’re topics that need to be covered, and if that’s what it takes, so be it. However, it would be nice if those discussions could take place without an allocation of blame. Yes, talk about the safest and most effective ways to carry your firearms, but don’t do it with a side order of snarky remarks about the stupidity of the most likely deceased victim. By all means talk about concealed carry purses – that’s a topic for another day, and one in dire need of discussion as an increasing number of women flood the firearms market – but don’t do it while bad-mouthing a dead mother. And when it comes to a violent shooting carried out by an evil person – because it takes evil to carry out such an act – please, don’t blame inanimate objects. Blame the owner of the finger squeezing the trigger.

There will never come a day when one of my guns loads itself, walks out the door, and carries out a mass shooting (or a single shooting, for that matter). A gun is a tool, and as with all tools it’s used for good or bad based on the desires of the person holding it. Remove guns from the equation and perpetrators will simply find another means to their end, something that’s been proven time and time again by the rampant stabbings in countries with tight gun control laws. Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to wholly remove guns from the equation, which means gun control laws will only hinder the ability of law-abiding citizens to own guns. Those hell-bent on hurting others and otherwise breaking the law will simply obtain their firearms illegally, because what’s a little law-breaking to a killer?

Blaming guns for gun violence makes just as much sense as blaming spoons for obesity and pencils for spelling errors. They may be old and somewhat ridiculous-sounding comparisons, but they do a good job of proving the point. They prove another point as well, and that’s the way blame now works in America. Think about it. We’ve had lawsuits – successful lawsuits, to boot – blaming fast-food chains for people getting fat, resulting in drastic menu changes and reduction in portions and we’ve instituted ridiculous measures like Common Core and the removal of a normal grading system as a sort of equalizer so kids who don’t want to apply themselves won’t feel bad.

Americans are used to blaming everyone but themselves for their own actions. It’s an epidemic that doesn’t seem to be coming to a close anytime soon and it’s hard to say just how far it’s going to go before people realize how out of hands it has become. It is high time people are held accountable for their actions, high time frivolous lawsuits cease, and high time basic logic and reason make a comeback.

Guns are inanimate objects. No ifs, ands, or buts. Evil is as evil does, and the sooner that reality is acknowledged, the better.

Oh, and if there are any spelling or grammar errors in this article, the computer did it…

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
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