Margaret's assailant was her husband William, who also happens to be the police chief of Peachtree, Georgia. Chief McCollum instantly dialed 911 and reported he had accidentally shot his wife twice. Investigators later determined that he had only accidentally shot her once. Stands to reason, then, that he accidentally missed her once.
The incident occurred at 4 AM on New Year's Day, a suspiciously fraught time for gunplay. McCollum has said that the gun was in the McCollums' bed at the time of the shooting, and so was his wife. Offhand this seems to be poor weapon and/or spouse placement. What the gun was doing in the bed is not clear, but many people who are still awake at that time of year and day have been celebrating with adult beverages for many hours. Whether this is the case in this shooting is not known. McCollum could have tossed the gun on the bed after letting off a couple of celebratory blasts to welcome in 2015. This is the kind of behavior that most chiefs of police actively discourage, but cops disregarding laws they expect the rest of us to obey is hardly unheard of. Watch them drive around your neighborhood if you don't believe me.
Many fun gun activities occur to people who have imbibed a New Year's Eve quantity of alcohol, from Russian roulette to acting out depraved police chief and female prisoner fantasies to simply mistaking the gun in one's bed for the sex toy one usually keeps there. Any of them could have resulted in an accidental shooting (and an accidental missing) in Peachtree.
Or the shooting could have been completely innocent. Perhaps Chief McCollum was merely saying his bedtime prayers with his gun in his hand, as was his habit, when the dadgum thing just went off. Or he was asleep peacefully at 4 AM when he suddenly woke up in a panic, thinking "There's a dirty gun in this bed! I'd better clean it," and it accidentally discharged.
Who among us hasn't that happened to?
As I write this, Mrs. McCollum is still hospitalized, but Veronica Rutledge is not. She never needed a hospital, because her two-year old child reached into her purse while she was shopping the aisles of a Walmart and squeezed the trigger of her concealed pistol, resulting in Veronica being killed instantly.
There are no doubt people who think that this is a tragedy so profound it should not be mocked, a young mother dead at 29, and a child with no more chance of growing up without profound psychological problems than a hungry traveler has of finding a decent taco shop in Ontario.
This is a different kind of tragedy, though, one that can't be dismissed by mere syrupy sobbings like "Heaven has another well-armed angel." Veronica believed in the way of the gun. She had a concealed carry permit for her weapon. She regularly practiced firing it at shooting ranges. Her husband had given her the purse she was carrying at the Walmart for Christmas. It was specially designed to be a secure place to carry a concealed pistol, although obviously it was not secure enough to thwart a playful toddler, which may well lead to legal action in the future by Veronica's survivors against that purse manufacturer. But all evidence points to the conclusion that there was only one thing this loving couple was more sweetly fond of than each other, and that was their chillers.
Veronica was the valedictorian of her high school class, had a degree in chemistry, and worked at a nuclear research facility. Despite that last fact, there is every reason to believe that she was a good deal smarter than Homer Simpson. She nonetheless decided she and her child, and the three other kids she had with her at the time of her death, were safer in the aisles of Walmart while she was packing heat than if she had been shopping unarmed, which was manifestly not true even before her two-year-old proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Americans spend billions of Wal-Hours shopping every year, carefully choosing cheap Chinese crap and stale pantry items to grace their homes, without getting attacked in a manner that would require an armed response. Veronica's odds of getting home from Walmart safely would have been far better if she had just crammed her gun purse with the usual purse-freight of credit, debit and discount cards, along with a two-pound key chain and assorted tissues and lipstick nubs, like a regular unarmed woman.
But she didn't. What was she afraid of? Did she fantasize about gunning down a mentally deranged killer? Maybe, but when most people are fantasizing about being dauntless crime fighters, they're not also fantasizing about four kids tagging along with them. Did she dread that armed Crips and Bloods from Compton would come roaring up I-15 in a caravan of mayhem before she could check out all the Price Rollbacks? Did she brood, sovereign-citizen like, over the possibility that her and her family would be whisked from the Walmart parking lot straight into a FEMA concentration camp unless she could offer armed resistance? Could be. There's a lot of thinking like this in Idaho, if media reports can be believed.
Or did she just carry because in some amorphous way, it made her feel safer? Or maybe she was just packing because the purse was a Christmas present, and she wanted her husband to see her using it?
What we have here are examples of guns killing a person and seriously wounding another. Yeah, it's supposed to be impossible. People kill people, and all that. But your gun is like that old car with bald tires and bad brakes, or that big dead tree limb hanging over your nursery. It's inherently dangerous. It's just because it is an unconscious hunk of cold metal that it can wait patiently years for you to do something stupid around it, and no matter how smart you are, you do stupid things, like everybody else, whether they are smart, stupid or in the great IQ in-between.
And if you're going to do something stupid, you're better off doing it unarmed.