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. Aridog,
    I served with plenty of good officers but by far the non-academy grads were the best leaders. They understood the Chief’s were there to teach them and were less likely to concern themselves with how I managed the division. I really miss those days but from what I understand, things have changed quite a bit since I retired.

  2. Olly … it is not that I don’t know great officers, just not a lot of them. Of the commanders I served under for my last couple decades, only two would I follow in to harm’s way. One actually advised me, and another chief, that our job was to make him look good. Say what? He was honest in that way, his purview, … to a fault. Follow him anywhere, even to Micky D’s for double cheese burgers, not a chance. The latest one that I respected per se was a rather big colonel with a ranger patch and all the badges one can earn….who advised me, ordered in fact, not to lie about anything in our sphere (I’d offered to do so to avoid the nonsense and nay-saying I knew the CG would lay on us, over a minor administrative issue…which he did) …that his job, was to deal with the truth when presented. I still have the hand written and signed note from that CG, down the road, thanking me (and us) for being truthful. In short, the colonel said don’t lie and I will trust you, meaning me. I found that to be unusual and inspiring at the same time. He was/is one of a long line of West Pointers who made the legacy real. He was never a “ring knocker.” Beyond that, give me an NCO, male or female, who “worked for a living” and I will listen up.

  3. Speaking of drinking; my last reenlistment was in Port Townsend in November. My ship was up there for a weapons onload and it was the coldest I’ve experienced handling torpedos. Our ship ran a bar out of hard apple cider and I took the oath up a ladder in the bar’s loft. It’s beautiful up there; or so I think I recall. 😉

  4. A Chief Petty Officer shall not drink, BUT

    if a Chief Petty Officer should drink,

    he shall not get drunk. BUT

    If he should get drunk,

    he should not stagger. BUT

    If he should stagger,

    he should not fall down. BUT

    If he should fall down,

    he should fall on his left side. WHY?

    To hide his rating badge so people will think he is an officer.


  5. Easy there Aridog…..ever had to be the defense attorney for the CPO initiate? Now THAT’S working for a living, and you pay dearly …financial and hangover….for the privilege (at least in my day); even worse if underway the next day.

    BTW Aridog …in re. The weapon of the day on the other thread……cannon or canon? Ah you should have resisted. 😇😼

    Now for you Olly. Let’s see, how does that ditty go about how a chief handles possibly falling down?
    All Chiefs are NCOs….but relatively few NCOs (7-9) are admitted to the “domain” of a sea service Chief.

    For you both, let’s compare this “working for a living” thing if you’re ever in the Puget Sound.

  6. Olly … CPO eh? I sort of knew you had to have been an NCO….you make too much sense to not be (worked for a living and all that) 🙂

  7. Every year there are tragic stories of toddlers being run over by a family car backing into their own driveway caused by the common toddler behaviour of doing the unexpected. Toddlers are developmental idiots, but doting mothers forget this. You have to be hyper cautious with a toddler at all times, which includes playing in the yard (have they left the yard and gone out on the road?) or even just having a bath. Another aspect is female psychology – the females who aren’t gun oriented don’t naturally have the sense displayed by many writers of comments on this topic. Guns and cars are both dangerous and require training to use safely.

  8. Frank in Spokane said …

    (Indeed, it might even be argued that the more knowledgeable or experienced one is in a given area, the easier it is to become complacent.)

    Possibly. I’d hope not probably for a majority. But not me, guns scare the $h*t out of me…but then I’ve been shot at by people who didn’t like me. 🙁

    That “snap” you hear as a bullet passes near your head is hard to forget…makes you focus in most experienced cases. Focus is good. 🙂

  9. Thank you Canon. There have been multiple variations over the years and I simply liked this design. I was initiated in 1991 and retired in 1999. I selected the image from the following website for our CPO community.

  10. Frank has a good point. We find it true in flying and skydiving (other endeavors?). While practice makes perfect, there is that time that should probably be in our “logbooks” when history shows the highest proclivity towards complacency and tragedy.

    It just crossed my ancient mind that adolescent through 20+ birth control is one of those areas. How about marriage at 4 to 7 yrs? Looks like 30+ may be another check point?

  11. Way back in this discussion I read comments about “the change of life” (my term). Just for some levity in an ongoing thread about a tragedy……

    A couple of years ago, I read this on a sign, along with a cute graphic, as I passed an ob/gyn nurse’s office

    A Hot Flash is your inner child playing with matches.

    Just so nobody gets any ideas, I was on my way to my cardiologist.

    BTW Olly, I really like the “CPO” anchor. On my display it also has a 3 dimensional quality but the design varies (?) a bit from actual.

  12. Mrs. Rutledge wasn’t killed by America’s “gun culture,” or the activities of the NRA, or because Idaho recognizes peoples’ right to carry for self defense.

    She was killed by her own complacency. This incident demonstrates only too well that even the most intelligent or the most experienced among us are not immune from succumbing to complacency. (Indeed, it might even be argued that the more knowledgeable or experienced one is in a given area, the easier it is to become complacent.)

    God have mercy on her family, and her son especially.

    1. frank is spokane – I would say that Mrs Rutledge was killed because you should never trust a 2 year old.

  13. Billy Bob…I’m not picking up on your response because it is redundant. My remarks, that you call diversionary, are well documented failures of “gun free” zones….which you apparently choose to ignore, or perhaps haven’t read a paper or watched the news for a decade. As I said, I believe you are trolling.

  14. “There are security personnel that have a better chance of stopping an armed nut than a woman with a zippered gun in a purse and three children to protect.”

    Really!? How comforting to know those supposed security personnel were incapable of stopping a “crazed” 2 year old boy from shooting his mother.

  15. Clarification on my comment at 11:02 last night. Late for me and a few drinkypoos to boot

    The example was meant to be the number of Senators is the same no matter how many people voted within a State. All States get the same number: 2

    Representatives in the House are a more democratic elected body because they are based on numbers of people or population in the state. So a larger state with more people will have a larger voice in the House. California versus Vermont in the number of Representatives.

    HOWEVER, even this process is not democracy as a small populated district, such as mine in California, will send a Republican to the House while a large populated district like the LA area will send a Democrat.

    Therefore, my small district gets the same voice in the house as a larger one.

    Still not a pure democracy….again….thank GOD. We are not and never were meant to be a democracy because the founders knew the evil and based their plans of government on being a Republic (of sorts)

  16. Billy Bob, The problem was the carelessness of the mother. Would it make any difference if the kid got ahold of a gun w/ a bullet in the chamber while in the car??

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