Mentally Challenged Man Unintentionally Shoots and Kills Sister with a Golden Gun

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Aug. 26 2013 9:00 AM

Mentally Challenged Man Unintentionally Shoots and Kills Sister with a Golden Gun

160759694
Guns like these should never be painted gold.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Several readers have sent me this tragic story from the St. Louis area, about a mentally challenged 20-year-old man named Marcus Anderson who reportedly shot and killed his 15-year-old sister with a loaded shotgun he found behind a dresser. The shotgun, which belonged to a family friend, had been spray-painted gold, and Anderson apparently thought it was a toy. He has been arrested and charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter. The owner of the gun, as far as I know, has not been charged with anything; nor has Anderson's mother, who, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, told police that she was the one who hid the gun behind the dresser.

This isn’t the sort of unintentional shooting that I usually write about—usually, the shooters are much younger than 20—but I’m going to make an exception here so I can make a point that, really, I shouldn’t have to make: Do not paint or otherwise alter your gun such that it could be mistaken for a toy, especially if you’re going to be leaving it out in the open in a house where children or mentally challenged adults might find it and shoot it. A gun is not like a car, a house, or any other private possession that one might repaint. If you paint your house gold, your neighbors will laugh at you, but that’s about it for consequences. Painting a gun gold, though, fundamentally alters the way that people interact with it, because people know that real guns aren’t gold, and thus might surmise that your golden gun obviously isn’t real.

Advertisement

The consequences of doing something as seemingly pointless as painting a gun gold can be all too real. In this case, a 15-year-old girl is dead. The punishment for irresponsibly leaving a repainted gun out in the open, loaded, for curious and untrained hands to find and shoot ought to reflect that devastating reality.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough, So They Added Self-Immolation

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.