Editorial: Unfriendly fire

The night of October 19, sometime around 11 p.m., a gunshot rang out.

The night of October 19, sometime around 11 p.m., a gunshot rang out in the neighbourhood  surrounding the intersection of 13th Avenue and 13th Street in Invermere. Within the hour, local RCMP were standing on one of the sidewalks at the heavily used intersection, overtop a bleeding deer carcass, their flashlights lighting up the dead doe for motorists driving by.

Whoever shot the deer obviously owns a firearm and felt zero compunction about discharging it illegally despite the consequences. But given the idiocy of this action, let’s review what could potentially happen when somebody discharges a gun in a family neighbourhood right in the heart of the District of Invermere on a Friday night.

Involuntary manslaughter is what could happen; which, in Canada, is labelled “criminal negligence causing death.” No matter how you say it, what it means is that the guilty party, by displaying wanton disregard for another’s life, has killed somebody.

In the case of Friday night’s neighbourhood deer kill, whoever shot it could have easily missed. It’s highly likely that drugs or alcohol or both played a role given this shocking incident devoid of any rationality. That same night, Bud’s Bar — located at the bottom of street on which the deer was shot — was holding its annual Syndicate snowboard/ski movie night, which people were walking to and from. It was also a clear night, perfect for late night dog walking. It was also a Friday night, when many of our local teenagers choose to hangout at the skatepark located just a few hundred metres from where the gunshot was heard. Long story short, that bullet could have hit someone walking nearby, causing serious damage, paralysis, or death, or it could have entered someone’s house, or the car of someone driving by.

Whoever shot that deer is not only giving responsible gun owners and hunters a bad name, but is terrorizing the town. And to dismiss the shooter as a grumpy resident irritated because the deer cull didn’t happen downplays the imminent danger of this and the other poaching situations that have recently taken place.

Discharging firearms of any kind, arrows included, within the district’s boundaries carries a paltry fine of just $2,000. Yet if someone gets killed as a result of that firearm being discharged? The mandatory minimum jail sentence in Canada for criminal negligence causing death is four years if a gun is involved. That’s quite the jump; so perhaps for the deterrent fine to actually work, it also needs to jump. $200,000? $2 million? What’s the value of a human life these days?