A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, January 17, 2010


"I want my baby out of jail. He's just a young boy. He didn't do anything wrong. It was a freak accident." These are the words of Marsha McMillan, a grandmother whose boys fired a 30-30 rifle into the air on New Year's night.

Neighbors complained. According to the news report, Roberto Bracey "removed the clip but didn't realize a bullet was still left in the chamber." At some point afterwards, Roberto Bracey had the gun in his hands, pointed it in the direction of his friend, Marquies "Hugga" Thomas, and pulled the trigger.

Thomas, who was shot in the chest, was pronounced dead at the University of Mississippi Medical Center approximately two hours later. Oddly, other reports state the gunshot wound was to the victim's leg. Bracey has been arrested and charged with murder.

It's a tragedy when a friend kills a friend due to negligence ignorance or stupidity. What many people may not understand, or refuse to accept, is that this tragedy was not a "freak accident" as Ms. McMillan claims. People who fire guns into the air in celebration are inherently negligent. They do not have any concern for gravity or perhaps they believe the lead projectiles will safely orbit the Earth for eternity. Celebratory shots fired into the air kill people almost every year. So, by the very nature of his prior actions of firing a gun into the air, Roberto Bracey was either woefully ignorant or he did not give a damn about the lives of others.

Reportedly Roberto Bracey removed the magazine from the rifle. I have to wonder if it was a lever action rifle with a tubular magazine. If the media cannot agree on the location of the fatal wound, then how can we expect them to get firearms esoterica correct? Lever action rifles are by far the most common 30-30 rifles. The 30-30 cartridge is a rimmed cartridge that does not feed well from a box magazine. A quick scan of any gun shop or pawn shop rifle rack is all that is necessary to determine that the 30-30 cartridge is far and away more common in a lever action rifle, whether Winchester, Marlin or other manufacturers. However, the Winchester 54, the Savage 840 and the Remington 788 do exist. All are bolt action, magazine fed rifles available in 30-30 WCF.

Lets suppose that Roberto Bracey did have a 30-30 rifle with a box magazine, and that he did remove the magazine but failed to check the chamber afterwards. These actions demonstrate a complete ignorance of basic gun handling. His ignorance does not absolve him of responsibility. If he were to don scrubs and a surgical mask, and attempt to perform cardiac surgery, would his ignorance of medicine excuse him from his actions?

No. There is the expectation that reasonably intelligent people will try to prevent the killing of others, and will abstain from handling items that may kill others if they are ignorant of their use. Roberto Bracey demonstrated ignorance, and he demonstrated that he did not give a damn. At least he did not give a damn until he suddenly realized the life was escaping from him friend. I feel sadness for Roberto Bracey. His grief must be a heavy burden. However, he is responsible for his actions, no matter how much he may regret them afterwards. He killed Marquies Thomas, and Marquies Thomas is in the cold January ground, never to breathe or walk again. Roberto Bracey and his family may try to shift blame to the slow response of an ambulance service, to the short staffing of an Emergency Department, or anywhere else they may dream up. The fact is, Marquies Thomas would be alive if Roberto Bracey had not behaved recklessly, negligently, and foolishly with a gun.

I do not think first degree murder charges are applicable, but there is definitely a case for negligent homicide. Roberto Bracey is where he belongs. If he ever handles a loaded gun again, hopefully it will be after he learns to use it safely.

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Anonymous USCitizen said...

Agreed. Thanks for staying in the blogosphere.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Saucer said...

Bullets returning from orbit kill people every year?

11:41 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Mississippi Code, 97-3-19 (http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/97/003/0019.htm)

"Homicide; murder defined; capital murder; lesser-included offenses.

(1) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be murder in the following cases:


(b) When done in the commission of an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved heart, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual;"

Pointing a firearm at someone and pulling the trigger without any attention to basic firearms safety could very easily fit the bill for murder here. Not, as Miss. calls it, "capital" murder, but certainly murder. He certainly does not fall under any of the excusable homicide categories: (http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/97/003/0017.htm)

Is he deserving of the same penalty as someone who plans to kill another or kills another in a fit of rage? No. And Miss. law provides for that. But, at the very least, he is criminally negligent and should pay for his crime.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Amen and ditto--thanks for staying in blogland.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Archivist said...

It's always amazing how people think that high powered tools, of any kind, are play things. They aren't. Most especially firearms.

Firearms react very badly when you don't show them respect.

Social Worker with a Gun

1:52 PM  
Blogger netfotoj said...

There are no accidental discharges, only negligent ones, in this age of drop-safeties on all modern firearms. Keep your booger hook off the bang switch and bad things won't happen, most of the time. And thanks for staying "on the air." You're doing a great job so keep it live.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All legally correct comments, but a Grandmother's love exceeds all bounds...

To quote John Huston quoting Steinbeck in Cannery Row, "and so, once again, the world was spinning in greased grooves".

Xavier, thanks from your fans for hanging in there.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for your superb blog. Your writings have inspired me on a quest to master the Smith and Wesson double action revolver. I have enjoyed your postings, and lament the closing of this blog.

I would respectfully dissent in some respects from your post- sometimes, a negligent homicide (especially when someone kills a close friend or relative) seems, to me, to be its own punishment. I truly believe that there is a place for mercy in the justice system, and in situations like this, it may be called for.


Cato the Younger

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it'll probably go to Neg Homicide, unless someone witness "words" between them. Still, stupid should have to be a self-inflicted fatality.

Thank you for staying!!


9:57 PM  
Anonymous TJP said...

Hey, even if he "removed the clip", who previously charged the weapon so a round was in the chamber?

And it's absolutely pathetic to blame the medical response time for the victim's death. He lived for two hours after taking a .30-30 in the chest. It's a miracle he was still breathing two minutes later.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

.30-30 with a magazine?

Perhaps .3o-40 Krag with a box magazine?

Who knows how egregiously the MSM may screw up the facts.

That's why we appreciate you, Xavier, and 3 cheers for your decision to not totally delete your weblog.

And as for the possibility that you will continue to blog, as the muse strikes you ...
Please sir, we want more.

Jerry the Geek

11:00 PM  
Blogger Pawpaw said...

I don't know Mississippi law, so saying what he should be charged with is an exercise in futility. The basic rule everywhere is charge them high, plead them low.

You're right that with the accuracy of the reporting, it's impossible to tell what might have happened. Regardless of the facts, a young man is dead and that's a tragedy.

7:29 AM  
Blogger deider48 said...

I appreciate you sticking around.Do more stories like this. I was a police officer for 11 years, the general public mostly doesn't realize the gross stupity that goes on.
Keep up the good work

10:06 AM  
Blogger Ruminator said...

Thanks, Xavier, for hanging around. I appreciate you sharing your words and images with me.

This story is heart-wrenching on so many levels. Wife and I just had the talk about the four basic rules and how this individual neglected the second (muzzle). While he might not have intended the outcome, he is responsible for the death of another human being without cause.

It might have been an "accident" in the sense that the outcome was unexpected. But, there was intent because the weapon had to be directed at the target.

Two lives are ruined and a whole host of waves move out from the epicenter of this tragic incident. What a shame.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Cogito said...

plenty of stupid to go around


2:28 PM  
Blogger Fenris said...

Let me get this straight. They want me to believe that he took a rifle, pulled the magazine/clip, and then intended to indulge in some celebratory dry-firing?! Right. Pull the other one, it's got bells on.
Which has me thinking, he knew it was loaded, intended it to be loaded, couldn't be bothered to consider where his bullets were going to go, and when it looked like he was going to land in trouble because he killed someone, decided to claim he attempted to unload it from the start.
If I'm correct, I hope they nail his hide to the wall.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed on all counts. Thanks again for your Blog. I've learned a lot and look forward to learning more; especially about your chosen firearm, the 1911.

Non illigitamus carborundum

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

Thanks for keeping going.

Yup, IDIOT with a gun that one.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn B said...

"These actions demonstrate a complete ignorance of basic gun handling."

Others call him an idiot.

I am not sure either assumption is true and both are indeed assumptions and not conclusions based upon all of the facts. Now the chances are probably pretty good that this was an accident (and before any of you start squealing negligent discharge not accidental - please learn first the difference between what is an accident and something done on purpose and the difference yet of assigning negligence to either). Even if it was an accident due to negligence, it does not mean the guy was unaware of firearms safety rules. As a matter of fact, it would easier to prove negligence on his part if he was in fact aware of those safety rules and then did not follow them, that is if you truly understand the concept of negligence.

Then again, it may not have been an accident at all. It could have been a fairly well planned homicide. It is not uncommon for killers to plan a homicide to look like an accident. Probably an accident - yep. Definitely an accident - not by a long shot.

A tragedy, for sure for the guy who wound up dead and for his loved ones.

All the best,

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hate to say this but it must be said, and PLEASE bear in mind that it is not being said to infer any racism or hatred of any kind. But the names and the comments made by the shooters mother sound out of an ethnic tone that is so prevalent in the urban centers of our nation. These centers are heart of our nation's biggest problem... lack of personal responsibility. YET people of the same ethnic origin who do not grow up in these areas, do not suffer this "curse of abject ignorance" and do take on responsibility for their actions. They don't blame "the man" and everything isnt everyone else's fault. The long time moral decay has become so heavy among these groups in the urban areas, that they will not look to the true problems they face. Instead they blame the majority for their problems. Just look to the make up of our prison populations. The ethnicity is the result of criminality not discrimination. It makes me sad to be a member of this ethnic group, because every three steps forward we make, these individuals drag us two steps back.


2:55 PM  

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