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.
"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 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!)"
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."
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.