A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, February 09, 2009

Foreboding Photos

The young couple had a blast shooting skeet with their family that Saturday. Afterwards they had lunch and visited through the afternoon. Joshua and Alaina Beasley had been married for three months, and were very much in love.

When the newlyweds got back home, they decided to engage in a little house clearing practice, in case their home was ever invaded. They had done this before. Joshua Beasley had completed a gun safety course, and felt as though he knew how to handle firearms safely. As he entered the kitchen where Alaina stood by the sink, she pointed her finger at him, pretending to have a gun. Joshua Beasley shouldered his shotgun and pulled the trigger.

The resounding blast was deafening and horrific. Alaina was shot in the right shoulder. She crumpled to the floor and cried for her husband to call 911 as he struggled to locate his cell phone. As she slipped into unconciousness, Alaina's last words to her husband were "I love you." Josh pleaded with the dispatcher as he pressed a towel to his wife's hemorrhaging wound. Paramedics rushed Alaina Beasley to BryanLGH Medical Center West. Joshua Beasley was taken into police custody for questioning.

Initial news reports alluded to the old "I was cleaning my gun" excuse. Later, Josh claimed something was wrong with his shotgun, that he loaded it and put it away. When he took it out again for his house clearing drill, he forgot it was loaded. Court papers assert Joshua Beasley loaded the shotgun with three rounds Saturday night and walked around the couple's apartment "pretending to clear the house for an intruder as he and his wife had practiced in the past."

Once he had answered the police questions and had been released from custody, Joshua Beasley went to the hospital. He discovered that the errant blast had lacerated Alaina's aorta. Surgeons had to remove part of her right lung. As doctors struggled to stabilize her afterwards, Alaina died.

Watch out! (Uncle Doug was the brave one to take this picture! We triple checked to make sure ALL of the guns were unloaded! lol!)From Hecate:
"The deceased wife had posted pictures of herself, her husband, and other family members on MyWedding.com showing all of them handling firearms in extremely unsafe ways. Her page is still up, but has been password-protected for family privacy.

I saw the photos and read the accompanying narrative before the site was secured, and as a firearm-safety fanatic found it horrifying. Here we obviously had people with the best of intentions operating at the level of unconscious incompetence. They honestly did not know how much they did not know."
I agree, and the photographs do not surprise me. The photo above was captioned "Watch out! (Uncle Doug was the brave one to take this picture! We triple checked to make sure ALL of the guns were unloaded! lol!)"

From her blog, Alaina wrote:
"GUNS! Yes, since we've been married we (I say "we" but I mean "Josh" lol!) have bought two guns- Glock 19 9mm and a 12 gage[sic] pump action shotgun. I have to admit it's pretty fun to go shooting. The 12 gage[sic] wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be but the first time I shot it did kick me back a couple of steps. Now it doesn't even phase me. Josh and I practice clearing the apartment in case an intruder were to come we have a plan of action in place."
"I think its great information to have b/c you never know if you'll be in a situation where you have to deal with a gun. Plus once you understand them and have a healthy respect for guns they are a lot of fun."
It is clear that this tragedy was unintentional. To experienced gun handlers, the photographs of abhorrent gun handling speak for themselves. This family, the entire family, did not have a clue as to how little they knew. They were dangerous and had no appreciation for the lethal weapons in their hands. I can not blame them for being ashamed and making the photographs private. The photographs are a disgrace, and in light of Alaina Beasley's death, they have an ominous foreboding to them. Ironically, the photographs of gun posturing also help demonstrate the lack of intent and malice in Alaina's death because they are so blissfully ignorant of fundamental gun safety.

A couple of years back I had a feature on my blog called Idiots With Guns, in which I posted a weekly photo harvested from the net of incompetent and ignorant gun handling. Almost invariably these photos were of young people portraying themselves as Billy Badasses. Some readers understood. Others were appalled. After tiring of constantly commenting on the series, I wrote an open letter to my readers. Finally I let Idiots With Guns drift into obscurity, and later elected to bring it back. My interest in making it a regular feature had disolved in the criticism, however.

With the portent of tragedy frozen in time in Alaina Beasley's photographs, I have to wonder if that decision was right. If Josh Beasley had been a coworker of mine, and I knew he was interested in firearms, I would have persuaded him to get professional instruction. I would have used every means possible, from personal instruction to ridicule to attempt to get him to understand that the cavalier attitude he used when handling firearms could be lethal to those he loved.

That is what we, as competent and mature gun owners, should do. Educate those of us who are dangerous. Bring them into the fold. Help them develop into safe and skilled shooters.

Joshua Beasley has been charged with manslaughter in causing his wife’s death, as well he should be. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought. The charge fits. In Nebraska, manslaughter is a class 3 felony. It carries between 1 to 20 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.

Gun safety is serious stuff. You can learn it in a properly taught firearms safety course if you pay attention and are receptive to learning. To be safe though, one must practice what they have learned. The Four Rules of gun safety as condensed by Jeff Cooper are:
1. All firearms are always loaded
2. Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it

These rules are inviolable and redundant. You must violate two rules to have a tragedy. Sadly, Joshua Beasley violated every one of them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was hard to read.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Tye said...

I've always been a HUGE fan of your Idiots with guns series. I hope you bring it back weekly again. My argument remains the same as when you first contemplated stopping.

Gun control advocates can find those pictures too. If we beat them to the punch and call out irresponsible gun handling, we accomplish at least two things. 1) We tell the world that we do not tolerate irresponsible gun handling. 2) Those pictures are a constant reminder to us to keep our guard up against carelessness and complacency in our safety habits.

9:50 AM  
Blogger The Saj said...

I'm really torn on this one...

I expect he's on suicide watch. Because I imagine most husbands in such a similar predicament would be strongly considering such.


Does make you wonder if 20 yrs incarceration is what his wife would want for him.


I imagine at this point, he merely wants to be with his wife.

10:28 AM  
Blogger AJ187 said...

I first started reading you through Idiots with guns. I'm glad I found the blog since I enjoy it so much. I think public ridicule is a great way to curve stupidity when it comes to gun handling. I think brady can find enough fodder on their own. Obviously you find the pictures who's to say that brady can't. The same way criminals find guns regardless of the law, the bradys will find ways to make the gun owner look bad with or without idiots with guns. I wish it would come back.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Mr.Potato said...

I have phases when I use guns for a few years and then I take a break for a few years. At his point I'm in phase 3. We live in a wonderful country where we have the right to bear arms. It is a special right. I recognized that the very first time I purchased my own firearm.

It has been almost 20 years ago since I bought my first gun but from day 1 I realized I needed instruction. I immediately enrolled in safety, CCW and gun handling courses, read all the literature possible, became a member of a shooting range to get accustomed to my firearm handling. I have also worked as much as possible for my family members to have the best information and training available. A gun in the house means responsibility for everyone in the house. Currently I have kids in the house aged 11 and older. I felt that from this age they can start learning to handle firearms safely. I did the same thing with them. Hunting and safety course, shooting range instruction, firearms handling...all of these are designed to teach safety and to remove naive curiosity when a child stumbles upon a firearm.

It is very sad when tragedies happen. Just like the one you just posted. Very sad.

10:50 AM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...

I feel a deep sorrow for the young couple (and their families) but worse still, is the damage to shooting sports and shooting for self defense. This story will be used to frighten others into hating and avoiding guns when the gun was not to blame for this tragedy.

There will be young men and women who will now refuse to ever touch a gun because of this event. Some of them will be victimized at some point in the future by a thug with a gun. Now we're left with all the "could've beens, would've beens, and should've beens" of stupid and inappropriate gun behavior...

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, when I bought my first gun, a 12 gauge, I had already learned the 4 rules from this blog, memorized them, and could recite them backwards. But it's the brutal realization of the consequences of breaking those rules that have me checking the chamber every single time I even put my finger on the trigger of a gun. But even before that I had already learned my lesson, thankfully it was with an airsoft gun. I checked the magazine of my airsoft pistol and saw it was empty, (this was before I learned the 4 rules, when i was quite a bit younger) and tried to scare my friend by pointing it at him and pulling the trigger. the last bb was in the chamber. luckily i had risk assessment in the back of my mind and chose not to aim at his head just in case and shot the bb at his side. Only a bruise was left, but I learned one of the most valuable lessons that day. I think those idiots with guns posts really did have an effect on me as far as constantly hammering out the mentality of "NO! NO FINGERs ON the TRIGGER! BAD!"

Keep it up, thanks.


12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame. All we can do now is learn from such a tragedy.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I hear of something stupid there's always another one to top it. I just cannot believe that STUPIDITY of the highest order still exists in some of our young people today. RULE 5 needs to be added: FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE ABOVE CAN RESULT IN DISASTER OR UNINTENTIONAL DEATH. Not that it would have probably mattered in this case

1:19 PM  
Blogger El Sid said...

It's really a shame, she was a beautiful girl. Taking a few hours out of your life to learn and practice proper gun safety would have saved her.`

1:24 PM  
OpenID reflectoscope said...

A senseless waste of human life.


1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a moron... I mean really. And having gone through a firearm safety course beforehand he can't even claim ignorance. To even point a gun at a beautiful girl like that(who was into guns!!) and then shoot her... this guy has got to be the posterboy for negligent discharges.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Mr.Potato said...

Yesterday I spent some time shooting skeet at a local shooting club. I'm a newbie when it comes to shotguns. This was only my second time. But I came prepared. I knew how to load my gun how to unload it how to keep it open, how to never point it in a wrong direction... all these things. Then there was a fellow who obviously did not do his homework. He had the Range Officer with him at all times because he wouldn't stop waving the gun around unsafely, the gun would not fire because he had the safety on repeatedly, he did not unload when he needed, he did not load when he needed, he did not shoot when he needed... it was grotesque. We all have our fist time I suppose but I wish we could prepare with the very basics before coming to a gun range with lots of people around.

This fellow still get a + from me because he got off his butt, took the gun out of the house and actually used it. He'll be better next time and better the time afterwards and pretty soon he'll be competent. One less gun barrel to worry about.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Bryan Willman said...

Xavier - your expansion of the rules is quite good.

I urge you (and everybody else) to not only teach people the rules, but also the realities behind them. (You talk about them, we all should.)

And in particular - all humans make errors. You will forget, you will have a klutz moment, you will get upset and do the wrong thing. You, Xavier, will. You, the perfect image of Jeff Cooper will. I Bryan Willman, will. If your firearm handling is arranged such that you HAVE to do several things wrong at once, this error will be a non-event or at least not tragic. Which is the point.

And if you want to make a picture looking into a gun, use a remotely controlled camera. It's not a new thing..

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he's being punished enough already. I think he has absolutely learned what a mistake he made.

5:03 PM  
Blogger David said...

sigh... all the pictures were trigger FAIL. I bet during the training class the guy was daydreaming about becoming James Bond or another horrifically incompetent and unsafe person with a gun.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

That was heartbreaking.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Perhaps I'm overly cautious, but I have NEVER done a house clearing drill unless:

a) I am the only one at home and the blinds are shut
b) I have unloaded the weapon
c) I have checked that the weapon is unloaded
d) I have checked once more that the weapon is unloaded
e) I have a cable lock on the weapon, just in case (house clear practices, to me at least, are all about how to handle corners with your weapon, not how to manipulate it - I do that at the range)

Just looking at the 12 gauge over my closet door and its 12 total shells of 00 buck is enough to inspire a bit of fear in me, and I do not handle the weapon lightly before taking it down for maintenance or practice of any sort. It's a weapon and it's meant to kill. It should never, ever be treated as a toy, and if it is taken down for show I ensure that every individual in the room has the opportunity to determine its status and that all treat it as if it were loaded.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

A nice touch for the TV news story would have been to list the Four Rules afterwards and how the failure to adhere to them caused this tragedy. But that would imply some degree of reportorial responsibility in our news media...nope, it'll never happen. Perhaps the young man learned everything he knew about gun handling from the television and movies...

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Morons like this guy just give more ammo to the Brady Campaign.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Sad story, but maybe just ONE person will read it and be able to change behaviour patterns, either their own, or someone they know.

7:50 PM  
Blogger TheBronze said...

If I did that to my wife (if I had one), I couldn't live with myself.

I'd kill myself.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

That is really, really, really awful!

9:10 PM  
Blogger Voynaimir said...

This very sad story makes me very glad to be from the UK, which has the strictest gun control laws in the world and keeps them out of the hands of ordinary people

5:43 AM  
Blogger Voynaimir said...

For example:


7:49 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Bruce, you presume that the media know the four rules to begin with.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Mr.Potato said...


"Your honor. I loved my wife. We went to the pub. I had only two beers. I did not see the red light, nor the bus come from the right side and hit the passenger side..."


"and then the thug said die bitch and shot her. He shot her! She was dead. I would be dead too if his gun didn't jam. I wish there was something I could do to bring her back"

or ...

Pick your poison Voynaimir. The only difference here is that we have more freedom than you.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

So - very - sad. A young life snuffed out for absolutely nothing. I preach the 4 rules and absolutely do not allow anyone near me to compromise them. Complacency kills.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He WAS pretty foolish to be playing around like that with a real gun...But poor guy! His wife would stand up for him if only she could! But they WERE both a bit young and not very careful around guns!
His wife wouldn`t have wanted him to be charged with manslaughter.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Magnolia said...

I've read countless blogs and forums on this story. Yours is one of the best.

I appreciate the compassion and straight talk common sense in your post.

I knew both of these people. alaina, particularly, pretty well. Her mother and I were friends.

I knew Josh as more of an acquaintance, but spent quite a bit of time around him and his family.

Of what I have known of his family, I would have expected better and more responsible behavior. I just can't imagine anyone being so incredibly stupid and flagrant with guns.

I will miss Alaina for a very long time.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Thank you for commenting Magnolia. It was with profound sorrow that I read of Alaina's death, and it is my sincerest hope that others will leran from this tragedy.

That alone is why I chose to use the photos that so many people in the past called innocuous.

If you have the occasion to do so, please pass on my condolences, to both families, and to Josh.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...


My condolences also to Josh...he will have to live with his action and his wife's last words for the rest of his life.

What makes all of this so terrible, is that it was completely avoidable.

I hope that every gun owner who reads this story, pays attention. The four rules of safe weapons handling evolved for a reason.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Magnolia said...

yes. You are correct. He will be living with this the rest of his life.

I for one am still completely baffled how someone with his upbringing - and yes, he really does come from a good family - could be so incredibly stupid.

It defies reason and logic.

Alaina's family is being very supportive of Josh. However, I cannot help but think when the shock and disbelief wear off there will be some family fall out.

I could be wrong, but it just seems to me this will damage family relationships forever.

There has been an outpouring of support for Josh in the Omaha area. I'm beginning to think however, that it is misplaced.

The Moore's have lost their daughter & sibling forever.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Tawnee L Cowan Photography said...

Beyond the 4 rules, there is one simple one
Harm to none.
there really is no reason a civilian, male or female, should pretend to point a gun at anyone. No arguement around it. If you handle a gun you have to be prepared that something is gonna die. I am disturbed at the pictures of finger pointing into someones head. We are not in the movies. You can safely disarm an attacker by shooting the knees. Like in fighting and other dangerous sports, there should be rules. Just playing around at shooting someone in the head is wrong. there needs to be a line drawn somewhere.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Beyond the 4 rules, there is one simple one
Harm to none.
there really is no reason a civilian, male or female, should pretend to point a gun at anyone. No arguement around it. If you handle a gun you have to be prepared that something is gonna die. I am disturbed at the pictures of finger pointing into someones head. We are not in the movies.

Oh Tawnee, harm to none applies only to the innocent. I am sure that you are a loving person who would never choose to do violence because you are a properly socialized human being. The criminal/sociopath has no empathy, no compassion, no "humanity." They see you as only the means to an end, be it the $10 in your pocket or something else. These monsters are the reason we responsible gun owners train to shoot people. Violence is seldom the answer, but when it is the answer, it is the ONLY answer.

You can safely disarm an attacker by shooting the knees. Like in fighting and other dangerous sports, there should be rules. Just playing around at shooting someone in the head is wrong. there needs to be a line drawn somewhere.

You are missing the point. Playing around at shooting is irresponsible and foolish. Training to defend your life is something totally different. If I shoot at someone, I will not shoot them in the knees, I will shoot them center of mass. This is not to kill them, but to make them stop doing whatever it was that made me shoot them in the first place. If they die, so be it, but better them than me. Lethal violence is all about shutting off another human being. It's not pretty, it's not glamourous, but it is necessary when you are fighting evil for your life. The bad guys do not follow any "rules" and if you follow any "rules" while fighting for your life, you put yourself at a disadvantage. My life is far too precious to not stack the deck in my favor by any means possible.

1:16 AM  
Blogger miguel said...

the whole things makes me feel sick inside ... always obey rule #1

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so very wrong about alot of what you have written in your little story. You, like the media, have turned this into some kind of gun awareness. Your facts are incorrect and dramatized ( like the media ). Hate to see you acknowledged for your writing. First of all, you were not there the night Alaina died. You do not know the circumstances in which he fired that gun. NOBODY does but him. Once shot she never regained consciosness, her parents were at her side at the hospital when she died, and she never spoke. Second, at the time of the shooting, Alaina was not playing. If you read the affidavit published online you will see that the gun was loaded, taken to the bedroom while Josh put some things away, then picked up and taken to the kitchen and fired. It does NOT say it was loaded earlier that day. Very short memory in other words. Lastly, the reason her parents restricted her websites was because of people like you, who take the photos and use them for their little stories. Not because of shame, they were very proud of their extremely intelligent, beautiful and kind daughter, whose only mistake choice was to marry Joshua Beasley. And I noticed that you state that poor Joshua never had training, that too is also incorrect. He just finished a gun safety class within the last four weeks. I see people feel sorry for him, he has suffered enough. What about her family, mother and father, who will never recover. Every birthday, Christmas, every holiday they will mourn her, their little girl whom they watched grow, nutured and loved for 20 years. I can't understand how people who didn't know the people involved can even write on the story accurately. And how do you about know his suffering?

8:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Reading this, I think about how I grew up with firearms. My parents drilled into me that you ALWAYS assume that the gun is loaded and you NEVER point it at something you are not willing to shoot and that shooting something takes it away FOREVER.

From there, I went on to spend my time at a few of the world's finest firearms courses starting with Ft. Benning and ending at Ft. Carson via South Korea. I remember being absolutely dumbfounded by the couple of guys that didn't seem to even know which end the bullet came out of during basic. And then, later on, how cavalier folks would be with their firearms. Oh yeah, and how cool most of us thought we were posing for the pictures at 19 and 20 years old. If a post-it note held what I knew, the Library of Alexandria held what I didn't... and still don't.

Now, many years later, I can only think on this tragic event and wonder how a person does not automatically check (twice) whether the weapon has been cleared, in addition to the rest of the rules. And, it is probably nothing more than being a little excited and not paying enough attention. How easily a situation turns to disaster just floors me.

My prayers are with those who are hurting.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And I noticed that you state that poor Joshua never had training, that too is also incorrect."

"Joshua Beasley had completed a gun safety course, and felt as though he knew how to handle firearms safely."

Reading is fundamental.

9:15 PM  
Blogger The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I, on the other hand thought the piece was well written and sobering.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous LibertyNews said...

Stupid hurts, when you're lucky. When you're not it kills.

We can say we feel sorry for the both of them as much as we want, but those of us who truly respect firearms know that this was totally preventable.

The only thing I can hope is that this will drive home to some other stupid kid who 'plays' with his guns that maybe he ought to be a bit more respectful of the power he holds.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Jarubla said...

Thank you for the post and your blog. I appreciate your candor and willingness to stand up and be counted as a responsible gun owner.

This story just broke my heart. Not only does this circumstance provide fodder for the anti-gun pundits, it does show that ignorance is the most dangerous aspect of firearms. Owning a gun does not make one cognizant of every potentiality. Training is needed!


1:42 PM  
Anonymous Micah said...

He was just sentenced to 3-5 years prison. Seems about right.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 Treat all weapons as loaded.

2 Never point a fire arm at anything you do not intend to kill or destroy.

3 Do not put your finger on the trigger unless you have identified your target and whats beyond it.

3:03 AM  

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