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. I am not 100% sure but you might be covered for your gun under your homeowner’s

    You will likely need to buy a rider. Inland Marine policies to cover guns in your home for theft. I have a this for guns as well as for antiques, jewelry and sterling silver that is valued above the homeowner’s coverage levels, which are really quite minimal. The items need to be documented and have an appraisal value especially if they are collectible items. Photos of the items, guns etc as well as documentation as to serial numbers, values, purchase receipts… much as you can to cover the bases and recover the items or to be able to be reimbursed for the loss.

    In addition, you may not be covered for theft in some states if you do not have a required gun safe and have instituted the proper precautions. Not quite sure on that so you should check.

    You are not covered for liability under these policies. Just for theft. You should also check with your agent as to whether you are covered if you are carrying or transporting the guns outside of your home. For example on the way to a target shoot and your gun is stolen from your car. You may not be covered.

  2. This incident is certainly out of the ordinary and sounds unbelievable. I cannot see how a two year old could cock a gun and then pull a trigger. Even a strong two year old doesn’t normally have that kind of strength.To me, something seems very wrong about this story and warrants a thorough investigation.

  3. The, ‘If you don’t like it move to another country.’, argument is that of the loser, the slave owner, the chauvinist, the bigot, the racist, the unAmerican, the cretin of the past that would not fit in now and never in the future. I hope you reconsider that argument. That statement is by virtue of every American that died to make this a better country, treason.

    Now, I am going to the beach.

  4. Honestly, if you are American and you advocate the 2nd being abolished or essentially abolished with new laws, then I have a suggestion for you.
    Move. Find another country with gun control laws and move there.

    Why sit here and attempt to take MY rights that you have no right to. Because I have news for you. It aint happening. Do you even realize what you propose would lead to a Civil War? Are you foolish enough to assume the North would win this time?

  5. Paul

    I constantly refer back to the pre Socratic fragment that stands as the basis of Greek thought on self governance. ‘Moderation is the greatest virtue’, Heracleitus of Ephesus.

    And Socrates, ‘Know thyself.’

    When you step back and put things in context regarding the US and its history vis a vis more evolved societies, ‘Chaos was the first of the gods to be created.’ Epicharmus of Syracuse, comes to mind. This is still a young and chaotic country in large part. The tyranny of its oligarchy and the ignorance specifically created to neuter its citizens is a product of its youth.

    Personally I would prefer no guns except in the most specific cases. However, the coming together at a reasonable middle ground, far from what exists, would suffice. Hopefully this will remain a work in progress.

    Cleaning up this morning, I broke a wine glass and cut myself.

    1. issac – Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
      Ambrose Bierce

      Sorry to hear about the cut. It is the downside of drinking.

  6. Has it not registered that many American citizens are exercising their rights to protest, i.e., demonstrate, police misuse of guns and authority and the corrupt and incestuous grand jury by virtue of police becoming the most significant group in the election of DA’s and prosecutors who, once elected, begin their campaigns for higher office? Time to get rid of it.

    Has it not registered that police (and their unions) are defiant toward the public and elected officials? Mayor de Blasio has a serious problem on his hands and the turned backs of officers is prima facie evidence of this. Those who lawfully carry guns and other weapons at taxpayer expense appear to be tone deaf and are unaware of the optics.

    I have heard medical professionals say that guns are the biggest medical problem in America today. Why is this? Are police so dumbed down today that the gun is their most effective tool in handling situations they encounter?

    How can sanity and order on the gun issue be restored with the general public if we can’t restore respect (not fear) for those who enforce our laws? Seems this issue provokes nothing more than profound sounding words about the exceedingly obvious without any solutions. As it is, the public can vote, protest, sue, whatever, but law enforcement and the Security State seem to do what it wants because the constitutional authorities are afraid or ineffective or are functioning in a justice system that is floundering.

  7. Jason

    The cost of owning a car includes the safeguards deemed mandatory by the society.

    The cost of owning a gun should, in my opinion, include similar costs. The words in the 2nd amendment point to society, ‘People’,’ Free State’, as well as the individual. In spite of the emotions of some, the individual is only as strong and free as is its society.

    The difference between how to implement checks and balances and not implementing them at all because they appear difficult upon which to come to agreement, is the work of a free society. Not implementing them is the result of a negligent society or the power of special interest. The obligation of a free society is to safeguard that freedom by resisting extremes. The extremes of one argument provide the fuel for its polar opposite.

    The fine tuning must never stop. Whether or not it works can only be determined in theory. We can’t live two worlds. Statistics in a close heat such as this are always subject to selective usage by whatever side employs them. I tend to lean towards the theory of rationalism and realism, or the middle ground.

    The fine tuning regarding ‘packing a side arm’ whether it is concealed or worn exposed on the hip is a grey area that will not be able to bear rational fruit until the problem is reduced. If, on one day, a nut case mows down people at a Starbucks, it is arguable to allow Tex and Truck in with Glocks strapped to their hips the next when they come in for their morning Frappa, Zappa, Wappachinos. However, personally, I would feel better taking my chances with only the rarest and most necessary of citizens carrying concealed weapons, something like it used to be, private investigators, security personal, etc., not any potential idiot, like the mother of the poor child in the Walmart. It is my hope that someday, if some one is carrying a concealed weapon he or she is authorized by their job to carry one, authorized as they used to be, and not just because their interpretation of highly ambiguous words written 238 years ago in a different world, happens to hold sway.

    Determining the psychological condition of a prospective gun owner is also a point where fine tuning will always have to be brought to bear. However, education and this screening could over lap. If, in order to own guns one had to confront the not always obvious reality of someone other than that person getting their hands on them, it is more likely deaths would be reduced than not or increased. This is the rational thought I spoke of. Of course you can’t prove it, but it makes more sense than not doing it just because there is no proof. This is an age old tryst.

    “well regulated” gun ownership obviously means different things to different people. To me it means an attempt to filter out the dangers. To others it means to do nothing regardless of whether the reason is some Daniel Boone, Jesse James, John Wayne type ideology or simple complacency.

    I find it hard to accept that something rational is not worth doing just because it is impossible to prove, not that it hasn’t been proved, but that it is impossible to prove. Unless of course you do look at all the statistics of all comparable countries, over a reasonable length of time. Then there is plenty of proof that reasonable or well regulated gun ownership does reduce the carnage.

  8. Errr…I should add that the dogs have in fact bitten me during training…and 99% of those instances are mistakes by the trainer/handler…me in those cases. The avatar I use, as I’ve mentioned before, is a photo of our biggest dog just after he
    had taken a good bite on my arm when the I let the sleeve slip after he was already airborne. Whoops. I told him “good dog” (he’d done what he was supposed to without distraction) and he seemed quite pleased with himself…thus the photo. Not everyone’s cup of tea I imagine, but I’d never give our dogs, and insist that they be trained. Truth is in most cases the working dog perceives the bite work as “play” and pays attention to you so that they can continue to play. Maybe I am just weird, eh?

  9. Anarchist 2.0 said …

    The concept of “liability insurance” is just one more attempt to criminalize and limit gun ownership. It’s a dumb one too, since it opens up the prospect of forcing people to carry insurance for all sorts of objects that they own. Americans already pay a cripplingly high amount of their income for insurance.

    I agree with you on that statement. It is the reason I gave, in response to John G, for being willing to insure my use of firearms, except for the criminalization it would imply. I can only shrink back in horror if “no fault” was applied (means everyone is at fault…contrary to the wording). I pay $2200 per year for “no fault” vehicle insurance and don’t dare use it …. short of a total wreck of my vehicle. I just pay for what repairs are necessary out of pocket for the “whiskey bumps” inflicted on my vehicle. Even when parked, it is always at risk…with “liability” insurance you cannot win, short of disaster, IMO.

    I tried to insure for liability regarding our dogs (German Shepherds from working lines) years ago…no go, once the dogs have been “trained”, which includes obedience, tracking, and protectionthey cannot be insured against liability here. Apparently training a dog to know when to be aggressive and when not to be (especially on command) is detrimental to safety. Go figure. The only person any of our dogs has bitten (superb grip on the shoulder) and taken to the ground, on command, was a guy trying to car-jack a man. Funny how that perpetrator did not file a complaint (I expected it)… no idea what he told the ER folks when he went for the necessary stitches…don’t care either.

    1. Aridog – I am not 100% sure but you might be covered for your gun under your homeowner’s

  10. DBQ

    I would happily invite a breakdown of those numbers into root causes. I have been in too many situations where the powers of rhetoric outweighed data. Someone’s strongly held belief’s can hamper progress and cause all sorts problems. Convince me with numbers that can be audited for accuracy.

    1. Denise Reilly – you asked, I answered. It is not my fault if you do not like the answer.

  11. issac:
    “Make background checks for all gun transfers mandatory. A gun is a gun is a gun and a transfer is a transfer is a transfer.”

    This sounds reasonable until you get to the details. I have no problem with requiring background checks at gun shows and such, but where you run into problems is defining a transfer, funding the gigantic increase in checks it would cause, regulating the cost of checks, and so on.

    “Make education in the use and safety of firearms mandatory, like it is in Idaho-so someone said.”

    Again, there is little evidence that this works. The Idaho incident is but a single data point and doesn’t prove anything of course, other than that knowing how to be safe with guns doesn’t mean a person will be safe with guns.

    “Pay careful attention to people with a history of psychological problems.”

    What does this mean? Those who have been adjudicated mentally ill are already prohibited persons. Are you saying anyone with any mental illness? How do you deal with patient/doctor confidentiality?

    “Don’t allow those with criminal pasts access to guns. Of course in this country where non criminals are locked up there would have to be the right to appeal.”

    We already bar those with many different criminal backgrounds. Who do you want to add to the process?

    “Then if you are proven knowledgable, not a criminal, don’t own an aircraft carrier, you should be able to own a gun. Now walking around town with it hanging off the hip, you know low down for a faster draw, well that is debatable.”

    Are you talking about all carry, concealed and open?

    “That is my position, ‘well regulated’ gun ownership.”

    That’s not what it means….

  12. Jason

    Like I said many small moves or fine tuning. Make background checks for all gun transfers mandatory. A gun is a gun is a gun and a transfer is a transfer is a transfer. Make education in the use and safety of firearms mandatory, like it is in Idaho-so someone said. Pay careful attention to people with a history of psychological problems. Don’t allow those with criminal pasts access to guns. Of course in this country where non criminals are locked up there would have to be the right to appeal.

    Then if you are proven knowledgable, not a criminal, don’t own an aircraft carrier, you should be able to own a gun. Now walking around town with it hanging off the hip, you know low down for a faster draw, well that is debatable.

    That is my position, ‘well regulated’ gun ownership. To protect the reasonable rational citizen against all sorts of extremists.

    1. issac – since you have a problem with ‘extremists having guns, I do not think liberals should have anything, including sharp objects.

  13. @ John G

    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

    Once again with the false premises and apples to oranges comparisons. Other than the weapon or vehicle, what is the underlying cause of the gun deaths or auto deaths? The guns or autos don’t jump up and cause these deaths all by themselves. There is a person behind each and everyone of the. What is the real cause.

    Deaths by guns is a meaningless statistic compared to deaths by automobile.

    UNLESS you break out the deaths that were committed by criminal activity and illegal weapons, compared to the same events from legal gun owners not in a criminal activity. You will find that the preponderance of gun related deaths and injury are from criminal and illegal activities. Purposeful use of a weapon to inflict harm.

    Then compare that to the deaths from auto use by criminal activity and illegally obtained vehicles (stolen) to deaths or injury that were purposely caused versus accidents from legal owners. Very very few deaths from autos were caused ON PURPOSE. Accidents are the preponderance of incidents. What is the underlying cause of most auto accidents…….alcohol or drug impairment.

    So, unless you deal with the underlying causes:

    1. Gun: criminal activity and substance abuses
    2. Auto: alcohol and substance abuse

    Your figure and statistics are meaningless. Farts in an elevator.

  14. DBQ, I cut rafflaw some slack, it was late on NY Eve. “Let he who is w/o sin..” That said, Brooks or Fellini flick.

  15. @ rafflaw

    since the days of 900 plus midgets.

    Thanks for the laugh!!. Your typo had me falling off of my chair this morning. Envisioning 900 midgets rampaging through Chicago with guns. Mel Brooks couldn’t have devised a better scene for a movie.


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