Idaho Women Killed At Wal-Mart After Her 2-Year-Old Son Pulls Gun From Her Purse And Shoots Her

veronica-jean-rutledgeAn Idaho nuclear research scientist, Veronica Rutledge, was killed Tuesday in a horrific accident where her 2-year-old son pulled a loaded handgun from her purse and shot her at a Wal-Mart. The gun was in the Christmas gift that Rutledge had received from her husband: a purse with a special pocket for a concealed weapon.

Rutledge, 29, worked at the Idaho National Laboratory and (like her husband) was a gun aficionado.

The loss in Idaho for this family is truly horrific. I do not believe (as some have suggested) that this tragedy is an indictment of gun ownership or even the expansion of concealed weapons permits. In Idaho, more than 85,000 people — 7 percent of the state population — are licensed to carry concealed weapons.

What I do believe that the tragedy shows is the still rudimentary state of firearm technology. We have previously discussed how the introduction of “smart guns” could eventually lead to product liability claims in cases of accidental discharges, particularly involving children. One of the most disturbing aspect of this accident is the ease with which a round can be discharged by a toddler. It is not clear if the safety was on the weapon, though as an experienced gun owner I assume that Rutledge had the safety on. However, it is not difficult for a child to switch of a safety. Many new guns will still not discharge without being held by the owner due to an activating ring or other recognition factor.

As noted earlier, there is a chance that “dumb” guns will be viewed as defective. At one time, seat belts and air bags were viewed as extravagances. Personalized guns, or smart guns, can use RFID chips or other proximity devices as well as fingerprint recognition or magnetic rings. Magnetic ring guns are already available. There are even new designs that would allow biometric sensors in the grip and trigger known as (DGR) Dynamic Grip Recognition, which the New Jersey Institute of Technology says can distinguish an owner with 90% accuracy.

Under the two basic tests for product defects such new designs can change the legal equation. Under the Second Restatement test of 402A, product design is defective is it is more dangerous than the expectations of the ordinary consumer. New technology can shape such expectations as smart guns become more prevalent. Under the Third Restatement, “a product is defective in design when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the adoption of a reasonable alternative design … and the omission of the alternative design renders the product not reasonably safe.” This could be claimed as such an alternative design if the costs come down and there is no real alteration in functionality.

While the public safety benefits are obvious, the NRA has generally opposed these guns as having the potential for gun control options in future legislation. In all honesty, it could. While the Supreme Court has recognized that individuals have Second Amendment rights to bear arms, it did not rule out reasonable limitations. Mandatory safety designs would likely pass muster in some cases. Torts and technology have long had a unique relationship in the law. This is one technology that may be coming not only to a store but a courtroom near you.

Rutledge was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated in 2010 from the University of Idaho with a chemistry degree. She published several articles, including one that analyzed a method to absorb toxic waste discharged by burning nuclear fuel.

Source: Washington Post

199 thoughts on “Idaho Women Killed At Wal-Mart After Her 2-Year-Old Son Pulls Gun From Her Purse And Shoots Her”

  1. isaac:
    Gun owners might be able to listen to proposals about restrictions without losing their minds if anti-gun people bothered to learn even the most elementary facts about the topic. For example, when people say things like, “You can carry any sort of weapon,” and then you find out that they think all AR-15s and AKs are machine guns or are especially powerful, neither of which is true, they lose us. When they make restrictions on such guns a priority despite more people being murdered with bare hands and feet, you can’t help but think they are going for low-hanging fruit rather than sincerely trying to reduce gun deaths.

    Also, and I’ve said this on this site many times, “Well regulated,” as used in the 2A did not mean regulations or laws or limitations. It meant having the qualities of a professional or being practiced. They didn’t expect the citizen militia to be well trained and drilled, it wasn’t realistic. So the idea was that everyone having arms was a prerequisite to having a “well regulated” militia.

  2. 35,000

    “I prefer to eliminate guns in the hands of wacos, the negligent, criminals, the untrained, and those waiting to repel government agents and zombies-oh yeah that’s wacos or is that Waco. The rest of the people should be allowed to own guns, even the stupid ones-I did include the stupid ones.”

    -Issac Basonkavich

    After I clear out the cobwebs I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution to not respond to nonsense, but for now I’m still sort of in last year.

    One thing will remain, however, society evolving is all about fine tuning. Big moves are rare. Americans will not suffer a big move and have their guns taken away from them. Barkin Dog can relax, but no aircraft carriers. The only decisions to make, on fine tunings, is do we increase the number of catastrophes due to extreme positions on the absolute freedom to carry any sort of arm whatsoever or do we reduce the number of catastrophes by filtering out as many potential nut cases, criminals, and ignorant gun toters. It will always be next to impossible to verify as statistics can be used selectively. We can’t live in two worlds at the same time and compare and contrast. However, humanity has been moving to the more rational and reasonable, so my bet is that the path will be along tighter controls and regulation, as in a well regulated militia.

    1. issac – I am here to repel government agents. That is my job as a citizen under the Constitution. I am loud and proud about that!!!! And I do want an aircraft carrier. I cannot afford one, but I have one on my wish list. And an Abrams tank would be nice as a starter gift.

  3. And, I see you are also following the teeny, tiny mayors talking points about other states being the blame. LOL!

  4. LOL! Rafflaw buys the teeny tiny mayor, and his BSing police chief. Precious. Those are cooked books. There has been much reporting on this. But, since you don’t live in Chicago maybe you don’t read Chicago newspapers. The most recent reporting shows your mayor and police chief juggling the books like a Capone accountant. The most recent piece in the Chicago Tribune is a piece titled, “The Lies About Murder in Chicago.” I would think a front page piece like that might catch your eye. It was published just before Christmas on 12/23/14. That said, I’ve had too many exchanges w/ you to think facts would ever change your mind. Voters like you are why your state is a mess. You believe lying Dems. You folks deserve the corrupt and incompetent govt. you have.

  5. I’d like to know what caused this young lady to be so fearful that she felt the need to carry a loaded weapon in her handbag. Having lived all my life in large cities, including Tehran, I’ve never felt enough fear to warrant such a behavior; that said didn’t realize the state of Idaho is so dangerous.

    1. Denise Reilly – among other things, Idaho is full of wild animals that can and do attack your children in the yard.

  6. A problem in requiring liability insurance for firearms ownership is politicians could then require such high amounts of restrictions that the insurance then makes firearms ownership unaffordable hence this results in a de factor ban on possession of firearms. In other words, an administrative effort to effect a ban on a civil right retained by the citizenry.

    Don’t think this will happen? Well, just look at how the US government suppressed marijuana possession. It was not only criminal law but administrative and tax law that made the citizens unable to possess it for fear of a multitude of attack from the feds.

    Just be aware, if the government cannot make a criminal case against individuals because of constitutional restrictions they will often resort to civil penalties or regulations to accomplish the same goal.

  7. Anarchist 2.0 Looking at the figures that you dredged up it seemed that gun deaths rivaled auto deaths. Autos get used far more than guns so I still have to believe that guns are a significant problem after looking at your figures. You still have not convinced me that liability insurance for firearms should not be in effect. If you want your firearms, you should have to recognize that that firearms are a problem and if the owners of those weapons cannot do a better job of controlling the use of them or else someone outside of your social group just might step in and impose limits. Unlike many of the accidents you cited you have to recognize that many fire arms “accidents” are intentional as opposed to accidental. House hold cleaners don’t make me nervous but someone parading around in a restaurant pose a visible danger. I won’t drink the household ammonia but what will this knucklehead with a pistol on his hip do outside of my influence. Try as you may you cannot convince me that a bottle of bleach next to my washing machine poses as much danger as some stranger parading around a public place with a Taurus 9mm on his hip. The house hold chemicals won’t hurt me unless I act, but the guy with a gun is a totally unknown quantity. I am not convinced by your arguments because people are not predictable.

  8. Smart guns must be rejected by gun owners. They only lead to a dangerous path of regulation.

    There are inherent risks with owning a gun. Just like there are inherent risks with having personal rights period.

    “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery “- Thomas Jefferson

  9. Apparently horse travel is not a viable option either.

    In his paper Hazards of Horse-riding as a Popular Sport, Dr Silver cited a study from 1985 that suggested motorcyclists suffered a serious accident once every 7,000 hours but a horse rider could expect a serious incident once in every 350 hours.

    Dr Silver also cites a figure from 1992 of 12 equestrian-related fatalities from 2.87 million participants. He also notes that in the period from 1994-1999, 3% of all spinal cord injury patients admitted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital were the result of horse riding. The majority of people admitted to hospital in such circumstances are women.

    Clearly we must ban all riding of horses as it is incredibly dangerous to ride a horse even when compared to riding motorcycles.

    1. 3.600 people drowned last year – you are clearly reading the data incorrectly. We need to stop women from riding horses, not stop everyone from riding horses.

  10. 35,000 people died in car accidents in the USA in 2013.

    this incredibly high total in spite of heavy regulation, insurance and age-health restrictions.

    Clearly these regulations are NOT working. There can only be one recourse now. Ban all travel by cars, trucks or any other form of motorized travel.

  11. Gettin real tired of the anti-gun nuts

    During 1999–2010, a total of 49,762 deaths from drowning occurred in the United States, an average of 4,147 deaths per year.

    From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013, at least 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the United States, according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation. Of those, 143 of the victims were children younger than age 5.

    400 kids drown each year.

    We should ban lakes, pools, hot tubs, tubs , kiddie pools, streams ,quarrys and any container of water deeper than 1/8th of an inch.

    Oh yeah we need to also ban oceans and washing machines.

    Let me know if I missed any body of water we need to ban or regulate

  12. There may come a time when we citizens will be faced with confronting our own government which has gotten out of hand. A rebellion will be necessary. Kind of like 1776. If you think that such a situation will not occur then you probably think like many folks did in say 1740 or thereabouts. Do you want to be able to rebel? How would you form a militia against the present day Redcoats if you were not armed? The Framers had this in mind when they passed the Second Amendment. What was in the mind of these original thinkers? Were they not in rebellion against their own folks, the British? Americans really became “Americans” when they rebelled. No, we don’t have Indians to worry about out here on the Frontier. But, yes, we need the right to own guns. We need the right to bear arms. We need to be able to stick a pistol or a rifle in the face of tyrants who come along down the road. The Framers were not dyslectic. They did not mean The Right to Arm Bears. But, on the other hand, many of you folks on the blog hail from Chicago and understand da Bears.

    Just a dog talking (barking) so don’t pay any attention.

  13. Nick,
    You may want to check the gun numbers in Chicago. Plus, Gun murders are on the decline and have been for awhile. Still too many, but a significant reduction since the days of 900 plus midgets. Also look into the per capita numbers and you might be surprised. Chicago used to have some of the tightest gun laws, but many of the guns used in Chicago were brought in from other states with weaker laws.

  14. The idea I’ve heard most in the comments is that we have to have safety classes to help prevent these things. Unless I missed it, no one bothered to Google Idaho concealed carry requirements.

    Safety classes are required in Idaho, or you can waive out with relevant experience such as military or law enforcement. And many have pointed out we have to pass tests to get driver’s licenses. How’s that working out? Nary a car accident to be found, right?

    I know of no research that shows gun safety classes actually reduce accidents, and at least one study that shows they don’t. This is obviously counter-intuitive, but I think it can be best explained with the saying, “You can’t cure stupid.” For example, there was a news story a few years ago about a man who picked up a woman at a bar and took her home. He decided to show off his gun, and when she showed reticence, he assured her it was unloaded by putting it to his head and pulling the trigger. Bang. Alcohol and hormones would usually be enough to explain this, but for one fact: the guy was a Navy SEAL. SEALs probably spend more time firing handguns than just about anyone. You can’t cure stupid.

    We have to keep in mind that given the astounding number of guns and gun owners in this country, the accidental death rate is incredibly low. Stories like this one in Idaho make the news not because they are common in relation to the number of gun owners or concealed carriers, but because they are so rare.

  15. johnn-

    “Site a study that will convince me of your argument. ”

    There is no study that will make the unreasonable reasonable, so I’ll just cite a couple illustrating my point-

    in 2009:

    35,900 Americans died in motor-vehicle accidents;
    5,300 pedestrians were killed;
    8,600 died from unintentional public falls;
    4,500 died from unintentional public poisoning;
    2,400 people drowned while swimming in public areas;
    800 died while bicycle riding;

    Here’s selections from a study detailing death from injury in 2011-

    All poisoning deaths

    Number of deaths: 46,047
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 14.8

    All firearm deaths

    Number of deaths: 32,351
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.4

    So, John, are you going to be consistent and insist that anyone purchasing household cleaners or any substance capable of poisoning a person should be required to purchase liability insurance to do so?

  16. When a gun is involved there is a lot of risk involved when you step outside the confines of a firing range. Automobiles are dangerous but like it or not firearms are designed to kill and that’s hard to gloss over when you take one out into an uncontrolled environment. Site a study that will convince me of your argument. Calling me a political partisan is a mistake on your part sir because you don’t know me at all. From my viewpoint you got a bit touchy and that is working against you and all those fine words that you typed out. Convince me just don’t try to insult me.

  17. “I wouldn’t enlist at Adelita’s either”

    I’ll be fine. You can’t catch herpes twice.


    “I’m sure. . . automobiles”

    That’s comparing apples to oranges. When you drive, there is a significant risk of an accident. The risk of damage or economic loss caused by firearm ownership is exponentially lower. You’re just going to have to face the facts- you’re going to have to think of a more reasonable excuse to limit firearm ownership. That red herring is too transparent to ever fly.

    More importantly, like most political partisans banging a drum for their pet peeve, you lack any consideration on how such a law could come back to bite you in the ass- that being any object or activity which is statistically more dangerous than firearm ownership (of which there are many) would then be open to legislation requiring insurance to enjoy ownership of that property or engagement in that activity.

    Hegel criticized most philosophy up to his time as lacking meaning because it was just a reaction to an opposing philosophy stated earlier. The same could be said of your silly little “liability insurance” idea.

  18. I’m sure that same argument cropped up in the infancy of automobiles but it did little to stop liability insurance.

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