In a murder charge, the key ingredient is malice, or evil intent. If the charge is manslaughter, all the prosecutor needs is to show a culpable degree of negligence. That is, you neglected to take care of a certain obligation to a point that produces guilt.

The gun is an icon of power. With any power comes commensurate responsibility. When the power involved is the power to instantly kill, the attendant responsibility is proportionately high. The scales of justice will weigh them both, and if it is your future in the balance, you want the scales to show that your responsibility lived up to the power you wielded.

The prosecution’s key strategy for winning a manslaughter conviction in criminal court (or a plaintiff’s strategy to win against you in a wrongful death case in civil court) will hinge on showing that you acted irresponsibly. That you disregarded dangers a reasonable, prudent person would have taken into consideration and provided for. That you were indifferent to the dangers your choices or actions posed to innocent persons—dangers you knew or should have known were present, and that could have been prevented or at least mitigated by other choices and other actions.

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