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Whatever happened to intent?

Mentioned a bit back the dealer at the gun show in Knoxville shooting himself because he was unnecessarily handling a loaded gun. Well, the police have charged him with discharge of a firearm within the city. His shooting, while negligent, was not intentional. Strikes me as odd they’d charge him with that.

6 Responses to “Whatever happened to intent?”

  1. Kristopher Says:

    I would need to read this actual city ordinance.

    Most of them do not require intent. In fact, negligence does not require intent … if you intended to harm, then you were behaving maliciously, not negligently.

    Generally cops won’t cite you for a city limits discharge if there was no intent AND no harm ( or danger of harm ) … but it is up to the cop and the city prosecutor.

  2. SPQR Says:

    For some crimes, the mens rea is “recklessness” which is a criminal level of intent.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Depends what the city code states. I would guess negligence is written into the code

  4. Alan Says:

    Yep.
    Many codes (and state statutes) on things like this will say :who ever knowingly or through negligence” does this or that, or “whoever intentionally or through reckless conduct” causes this or that….

    Totally dependent on the way the ordinance is written.
    But (as a retired law enforcement officer) I am troubled with the gradual whittling down of mes rea over the last several decades.

  5. mikee Says:

    Disturbing the peace might apply, but would require more explanation in court and perhaps more witnesses. My peace would surely be disturbed by a gunshot at a gun show.

  6. Liston Says:

    Perhaps he is getting off light with this – – This charge is a violation of a city ordinance, and does not rise to the level of a misdemeanor (or so I was told by a retired officer). He pays his fine and walks away.