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Is Dick Cheney going to be charged with a crime?

Was the White House ever going to report that the Vice President of the United States almost killed a man while hunting?

E&P; has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occured and called Vice President Cheney’s office for confirmation.

The confirmation was made but it is not known for certain that Cheney’s office, the White House, or anyone else intended to announce the shooting if the reporter, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christ Caller-Times, had not received word from the ranch owner.

…The [Houston] Chronicle also reports Monday that hunting accidents are amazingly rare in Texas. In 2004, it said, the state’s 1 million-plus hunters were involved in only 29 hunting-related accidents (19 involving firearms), four of which were fatal.

Good god, can you even imagine the wingnut bleating if this had been Clinton or Gore?

Now that the White House is spinning that Cheney’s shooting victim, Austin attorney Harry Whittington, is the one responsible for his own injuries, it’s time to pull out the little safety manual, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education guidelines

Rules Hunters Can Live By . . . Ten Commandments of Shooting Safety

1. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
Control the direction of the muzzle at all times. Do not point a firearm or bow at anything you do not intend to shoot. Never rest a muzzle on your toe or foot. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until the instant you are ready to fire. Always keep the safety on until ready to fire; however, the safety should never be a substitute for safe firearm handling.

2. Treat every firearm or bow with the same respect you would show a loaded gun or nocked arrow.
Every time you pick up a firearm, the first thing you do is point the muzzle in a safe direction and check to see if it is loaded. Be sure the chamber and magazine are empty and that the action is open until ready to be fired. If you do not understand how to determine if it is loaded, do not accept the firearm until someone has safely shown you that it is unloaded. Read your instruction manual carefully before you handle new firearms or bows.

3. Be sure of your target and what is in front of and beyond your target.
Before you pull the trigger you must properly identify game animals. Until your target is fully visible and in good light, do not even raise your scope to see it. Use binoculars! Know what is in front of and behind your target. Determine that you have a safe backstop or background. Since you do not know what is on the other side, never take a shot at any animals on top of ridges or hillsides. Know how far bullets, arrows and pellets can travel. Never shoot at flat, hard surfaces, such as water, rocks or steel because of ricochets.

4. Unload firearms and unstring conventional bows when not in use.
Leave actions open, and store sporting arms in cases when traveling to and from shooting areas. Take bolts out or break down shotguns if necessary. Know how your equipment operates. Store and transport firearms and ammunition separately and under lock and key. Store firearms and bows in cool, dry places. Use gun or trigger locks and guards when not in use.

5. Handle the firearms, arrows and ammunition carefully.
Avoid horseplay with firearms. Never climb a fence, a tree or a ladder with a loaded firearm or bow and arrows. Never jump a ditch or cross difficult terrain with a loaded firearm or nocked arrow. Never face or look down the barrel from the muzzle end. Be sure the only ammunition you carry correctly matches the gauge or caliber you are shooting. Always carry arrows in a protected cover or quiver. Learn the proper carries. Try to use the two-hand carry whenever possible because it affords you the best muzzle control. Always carry handguns with hammers over an empty chamber or cylinder. If you fall, be sure to disassemble the gun and check the barrel from the breech end for obstructions. Carry a field cleaning kit.

6. Know your safe zone-of-fire and stick to it.
Your safe zone-of-fire is that area or direction in which you can safely fire a shot. It is “down range” at a shooting facility. In the field it is that mental image you draw in your mind with every step you take. Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire. Know the safe carries when there are persons to your sides, in front of, or behind you. If in doubt, never take a shot. When hunting, wear daylight fluorescent orange so you can be seen from a distance or in heavy cover.

7. Control your emotions when it comes to safety.
If you lose control of your emotions you may do something carelessly. If you have just shot a target or animal you probably will be excited. At that moment you may turn with a loaded firearm back towards your friends or you might run with a loaded firearm towards a downed animal with the gun safety off. You or someone else may be in danger once you lose control of your emotions. Show discipline. Rehearse in your mind what the safe actions will be. Do not allow your daydreams to prelace good judment. Show restraint and pass up shots which have the slightest chance of being unsafe.

8. Wear hearing and eye protection.
While shooting at the range, you must wear hearing and eye protection at all times. Firearms are loud and can create noises which are damaging to a person’s hearing. It can be a gradual loss of hearing due to outbursts of noise over many years. The damage could also be immediate, especially if your ears are next to a muzzle blast. Vibrations from the blast are enough to create loss of hearing. Wear glasses to protect your eyes from escaping gases, burnt powder (especially in blackpowder shooting), and other debris.

9. Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms or bow and arrows.
Alcohol and drugs impair normal physical and mental body functions and mustn’t be used before or while handling firearms or archery equipment. These substances affect emotions, making it easier to lose control.

10. Be aware of additional circumstances which require added caution or safety awareness.
Just because something isn’t listed under these “ten commandments of shooting safety” doesn’t mean you can ignore it if it is dangerous. There may be rules such as in muzzleloading or archery or posted at a shooting range which should also be followed. Also, practice reloading safety by following and reading all specific instructions. Practice all commandments of shooting safety. Ensure a safe future for you, others and the shooting sports!

Let’s see, according to the ranch owner where this happened, placing the blame on Whittington.

Whittington “came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn’t signal them or indicate to them or announce himself,” said Armstrong, who was in the car.

“The vice president didn’t see him,” Armstrong told the AP. “The covey flushed, and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by God, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good.”

But wait, here’s another AP story with that critical paragraph m
issing. Cheney pulled off a shot with Whittington in the line of fire.

According to The Associated Press, ranch owner Katharine Armstrong said Whittington shot a quail around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and was attempting to retrieve it from a stand of tall grass. Meanwhile, Cheney and a third member of the hunting party flushed a second covey of quail in another section of the field.

Whittington was rejoining the others when the birds took flight and Cheney took aim, Armstrong said.

“The vice president didn’t see him,” Armstrong told the AP. “The covey flushed, and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by God, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good.”

That sounds like Darth wasn’t adhering to commandments 1, 3, 5, 6 listed above, no matter how it’s spun.

Also, the third person present during the accident has been identified — Pamela Willeford, a former Texas education official and the current U.S. ambassador to Switzerlan, according to Raw Story. Raw notes that Willeford’s spin is that “the sun was behind Whittington as well, possibly making him more difficult to see.”

Well then, Cheney’s still responsible. I wonder if Scott McClellan is going fetal yet?

***

Fun fact: Whittington has long been active in Texas Republican politics; he was named by then-Gov. George W. Bush to the Texas Funeral Service Commission, which was involved in a major scandal investigating improperly licensed embalmers in Dallas during Shrub’s tenure. The company, Kenyon International, has a subsidiary, SCI, that landed a Katrina body-counting contract. See this earlier Blend post,

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding