Complete responsibility

This is a discussion on Complete responsibility within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I read somewhere that we have final responsibility for where each round we fire ends up. 99% of the time I can agree. Being of ...

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Thread: Complete responsibility

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    Member Array DaveInTexas's Avatar
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    Complete responsibility

    I read somewhere that we have final responsibility for where each round we fire ends up.

    99% of the time I can agree.

    Being of that nature, I get to thinking about the wierd things that might happen and how we can be blamed for them.

    Ie you take all reasonable precautions, shooting at a range, but there is a solid berm behind the target and it hides a rock. The ricochet hits a bystander. Is there such a thing as hiding behind the Freak Accident Clause (I made that up) or is that still 'manslaughter with years in jail'?

    Or, you go to Bass Pro and shoot at their indoor range. The range builder screwed up and you fire at the one place they did not protect well enough, your round goes into the street and maims a pedestrian. Your liability is....?

    this is for Texas, and no I probably won't be poring over the statutes, just wondered what you guys think.

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    That would be up to a jury I think.

    With many of the highly educated people that sit on jurys nowadays,all bets would be off as to what the outcome could possibly be.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Obsolved of all liability...doubt it. There is a risk in everything we do...why so many lawyers in the world.

    Rick

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    Where there is the potential for $$, the law suit(s) will have the 'shot gun' approach (It's going to be EVERYONE'S fault...).

    If it was your bullet/actions...linked to you, there is always the possibility of you being held accountable as determined by a prosecutor, or jury.
    Never say, "Never!" Courts have done many strange things...you just never know.

    I would agree, that depending upon the situation and the state, the variables are almost infinite. I wouldn't dwell on what could possibly happen, but instead dwell upon 'safety'.

    Stay armed...always stress safety...stay safe!
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    I don't know about the two issues mentioned by the op but yes, we have absolute liability for where the bullet winds up. Even if you are in a justifiable shootout, should you mis your target and hit a bystander, you could be charged with negligent homicide.

    Life isn't fair.

    Be careful, and use lethal force only in the gravest extreme.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveInTexas View Post
    Ie you take all reasonable precautions, shooting at a range ...

    ... but there is a solid berm behind the target and it hides a rock.

    ... The range builder screwed up and you fire at the one place they did not protect well enough ...
    Those two scenarios sound like clear facility failure, beyond the ability of any customer to know. Can't see how any escaping bullet could possible be even 1% the fault of the shooter, if using the range as intended.
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    As far as criminal charges if there was no negligence in as far as the individual was shooting at a gun range and because of a rock causing a ricochet the round left the range and struck somebody,I do not believe there would ever be charges filed or a conviction if there were.But then you look at civil charges and the family may sue for wrongfull death,you may or may not win the case but it will cost you a lot either way
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    Ron
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    Given the facts posed, I don't believe the shooter has any liability, criminal or civil. Lack of criminal is easy, the civil is a bit harder, but to have civil liability it would need to be established by the prson suing that the shooter was, in some way, negligent. And, there is within the concept of negligence, in this kind of scenario, a requirement of forseeability, which in my opinion is lacking here.

    Given the facts, I don't see how they could possibly establish that the shooter either knew, or should have known, while shooting in a legitimate range, that a bullet could exit the range and injure a bystander.

    But, as already stated, you could be sued for damages, required to defend the suit, and run up substantial legal fees.
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    Distinguished Member Array GWRedDragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    As far as criminal charges if there was no negligence in as far as the individual was shooting at a gun range and because of a rock causing a ricochet the round left the range and struck somebody,I do not believe there would ever be charges filed or a conviction if there were.But then you look at civil charges and the family may sue for wrongfull death,you may or may not win the case but it will cost you a lot either way
    Exactly. It all comes down to: was there negligence? If you were operating your weapon in a manner that people familiar with firearms would consider safe and responsible then you are not going to be guilty of a crime. Having extremely bad luck is not criminal, but disregarding standard best practices in a manner that endangers others is.

    If anyone ever gets hurt because of any sort of freak accident though, you will almost certainly get sued. If you were acting responsible you 'should' win, but it may take a lot of money to defend yourself and the standard of guilt for civil trials is not what it is for criminal trials.
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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron View Post
    Given the facts, I don't see how they could possibly establish that the shooter either knew, or should have known, while shooting in a legitimate range, that a bullet could exit the range and injure a bystander.

    Ron (and CCW)...I guess I would look at it as cause and affect...match bullet to gun..."how often do you shoot?", "ever miss the target?", "do you wear glasses?" etc etc. I know a stretch, but in civil court...the burden of proof is far less. Thus, in these cases, it appears the injured come out on top...right, wrong, or indifferent.

    Rick

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    I think Hopyard has it right. I'll use a car as an analogy, because like a gun, it is a tool that we use to achieve an end.

    Imagine your car has a blowout, you lose control, and you cause an accident that kills someone. This is not unlike the bullet bouncing off the rock. You didn't intend to kill them. You also weren't doing anything negligent, you were operating your equipment in a safe manner (driving down the road / shooting at a range).

    In both circumstances you have caused (albeit inadvertently) serious harm. You are absolutely responsible for reparations. Does that include prison time? It shouldn't. Should you be off the hook? Absolutely not.

    Just imagine the mess we'd have if we didn't hold people accountable for their actions intended or not. Gee, I'm sorry about your Husband who's the sole breadwinner for your family of five. But I didn't mean to and it was an accident I could not forsee. So ... you're on your own. Go pound sand.
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    Ron
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandit383 View Post
    Ron (and CCW)...I guess I would look at it as cause and affect...match bullet to gun..."how often do you shoot?", "ever miss the target?", "do you wear glasses?" etc etc. I know a stretch, but in civil court...the burden of proof is far less. Thus, in these cases, it appears the injured come out on top...right, wrong, or indifferent.

    Rick
    Rick, way to much of a stretch. I am not going to get into a legal debate about this. If you are at a licensed range, it is almost impossible, under the given scenario, that you could be held liable for damages because there would be a total absence of negligence on the part of the shooter.

    The range and contractor, who built the range, would have the liability for damages to the bystander.
    Last edited by Ron; November 22nd, 2008 at 06:25 PM.
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    In both scenarios you gave I have a feeling the lawyers would go after the deep pockets, the range owners. Why go after a few thousand dollars when the big payout is in their sights. Besides, a jury will find it easier to find blame with the deep pockets.
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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Matiki I am going to have to disagree with your automotive analogy.
    If you maintain your vehicle properly (tire pressure) and were operating within its load rating and at speeds reasonable for the conditions at the time, and the tire blew due to a manufacturing defect, that should be on the manufacturer. Like the good old Firestone 500 tires in the early 1980's. In that situation you yourself would also have a claim against the manufacturer.

    Now on the other hand, if the tire fails because you have been running it at thirty pounds over the manufacturers specification in an effort to get better fuel mileage, that is all on you.

    I think in the scenarios from the OP you would have little to no liability. The question I would have on the indoor range scenario I think it would depend on where specifically the defect is. If it is in the backstop, that would be on the range owners. If however you put one through the roof or out the front window of the place you have a serious problem.
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    Member Array DaveInTexas's Avatar
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    Lets consider another scenario. Its a real one but I want to add some fiction to it, in order to see what you think about this.

    Earlier this month a hunter's bullet "stray bullet" per the article went through a home and killed a child. Tragic, yes but my point is do you think he could use the defense of a freak accident causing this? I would think if the house was within 5 degrees of and beyond the deer he would be SOL. If the house was proven to be behind him, I think he could use the ricochet defense.
    But in between there, it seems like it might be a gray area.
    What do you think?
    Besides the usual 'this guy was an idiot' or 'this should have never happened if he....'

    Police: Stray hunter's bullet kills toddler - 11/17/08 - New York News and Tri-State News - 7online.com

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