As eager to inflict political injury on the Vice President, as the typical bird dog is to pursue quail, the Washington Press Corps set to work today manufacturing a new headline story consisting of a violated right to know the details of the Vice President’s shooting accident sooner than they were released. These kinds of things are rather like tennis volleys: the Washington Post bats its new meme over the net, and the Times rushes in and delivers another bash. CNN picks it up, and smashes it over to MSNBC. And so on. The longer the ball stays in the air, the greater the reality and the significance, at least in the eyes of the MSM itself and its credulous devotees.
Michelle Malkin has been collecting coverage.
Despite the hoplophobic inclinations of the metrosexual community to regard Cheney as fatally branded as a “shooter,” what occurred this weekend was a private matter and an accident. It’s impossible for those of us who weren’t present to decide if we would have been able to avoid injuring Mr. Whittington had we been in the Vice President’s shoes. Shooting accidents commonly result from inexperience, carelessness, over-excitement, or inattention, but sometimes they also just happen.
My father was a careful and reliable sportsman. One day, when we went out, he decided, out of sentiment, to use an old 16 gauge German shotgun that a family friend had brought home as a war souvenir after WWII. That gun had travelled from one person to another as a family loaner for decades, and I used it myself many times when I was a boy without untoward event. This particular day, when my father loaded that shotgun’s two barrels, and closed the breech, both firing pins dropped, and both barrels discharged. Fortunately, no person or dog was standing in line with the muzzle of that gun, and though a nearby tree was riddled with shot, the muzzle was also mercifully far enough away from solid obstacles that the high velocity bird shot did not ricochet right back.
But my father and I were both seriously shaken by the near accident. We knew that it was pure luck the trigger mechanism happened to fail disastrously on that old gun without injury. We knew how close we came to tragedy, and we went home without hunting that day, feeling sick.
No one was responsible. It was an old gun. It had been subjected to amateur gunsmithing repairs by its actual owner, but all sorts of people (including both my father and me) had used it safely for years. Accidents can happen in the hunting field.
The reports of Dick Cheney’s accident suggest it too was not his fault. He swung on a rising bird, departing into a quarter he assumed was safe for firing. Mr. Whittington had apparently walked up from behind the Vice President and his shooting partner unobserved, and happened to walk into the Vice President’s line of fire. Mercifully, Cheney was using a relatively diminutive 28 gauge shotgun; and, it being a quail hunt, one expects he was firing low velocity light weight trap & field loads of 8 or 9 shot. Smaller bird shot will lose its energy over a shorter distance.
At the 30 yards the reports describe, even small bird shot is still dangerous, but shot that small at that range probably only just penetrated exposed skin. I’m sure it must have hurt though. Both Mr. Whittington and the Vice President have my sympathy. An accident of this kind is no joke for either the victim or the shooter, and the first is 78 years old, and the other has had a history of heart trouble.
On the lighter side, as American history buffs at National Review, like Rick Brookhiser, have been noting: the last time an incumbent Vice President shot someone (11 July 1804), it was not an accident.