Enthusiastic Pro-Gun Columnist Killed After Letting Teen Hold Gun

A case of stupidity, poetic justice, both, or neither? Questions abound surrounding the death of a retired Maine newspaper editor who was shot by his own gun.

According to the Portland Press Herald M.D. Harmon, a former editor of the paper, was shot and killed in his home when a gun he was showing to a 16-year-old guest discharged. Harmon, who had continued to write a column for the Press Herald since his retirement in 2011, was a conservative who was a staunch defender of gun rights.

The police are trying to answer a number of questions about the shooting, such as how the boy came to possess the gun. They also want to know why the weapon was loaded. Harmon’s widow has declined to speak to reporters, saying the shooting was an “accidental tragedy.”

Harmon wrote frequently about gun rights throughout his long newspaper career. In September 1993 he had this to say about how important he considered the right to own a gun:

I view threats to that freedom as seriously as I do threats to my right to vote, or speak freely, or worship as I please.

More recently Harmon weighed in on a referendum which asked voters to approve increased background checks in Maine. On October 14 he wrote in the Press Herald:

The proposal is a back door to universal gun registration – it wouldn’t work without it – and it would do nothing to stop the most common ways criminals get their guns: stealing them, buying them from other crooks or finding a ‘straw purchaser’ who can pass a background check for them. All those ways are already illegal. Hey, let’s make them more illegal!

Based on his repeated defense of firearm ownership it can be safely said that Harmon obviously knew a thing or two about guns. Which makes you wonder why he apparently allowed the teen to violate one of the most basic rules of firearm usage: “never point a gun at anything you aren’t prepared to shoot.” That is perhaps the first question police should try to answer.

At this point there are many questions and almost no answers. The names of the boy and his father have not been released due to the ongoing investigation. No one has said how the gun came to fire — whether it accidentally discharged or whether the teen pulled the trigger. There has been no information released on where the bullet struck Harmon. All we know is this: an experienced gun owner allowed a teenager to handle a loaded weapon, and he paid for that mistake with his life.

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