This page archives and summarizes news stories about what we at PAGV call “Formerly Responsible Gun Owners,” or FRGOs. There is a widespread belief among gun rights activists that guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals or mentally ill people — if we can simply keep guns away from “those” individuals, there’s no need to regulate gun ownership for responsible, law-abiding citizens.
There is a flaw in this belief, though. The spectrum of responsibility among gun-owners isn’t the simple binary of “good guys” and “bad guys.” All humans are human. There are moments when they lose their temper, when they do something foolish, when they misjudge a situation, when they sink into depression, when they drink too much or when they simply act without appropriate caution. No person is entirely immune to this kind of behavior. This does not mean that guns should be completely banned. PAGV supports second amendment rights. PAGV also believes, however, that recognizing the inherent risks in gun ownership — and the graduated risks associated with various types of firearms and various habits, behaviors and attitudes toward firearms — are first steps toward reducing gun violence. It’s dangerous hubris to think that, because you are a “responsible, law-abiding citizen,” you could never do wrong.
In the stories below, none of the gun owners had a previous criminal conviction. None had been adjudicated mentally ill by a court of law and thus prohibited from owning a firearm. Some of these people are generally responsible, law-abiding citizens who made a mistake with serious consequences. Some might have behaved recklessly before, but had merely been lucky until their luck ran out. All of them might have been presumed to be “responsible gun owners” up until the moment they weren’t.
In some cases, the people described here are facing criminal charges and are, of course, presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are relating the stories as they were reported in the media.