Yesterday, Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Little was sentenced to two years behind bars for inadvertently shooting and killing a fellow Marine outside the Camp Lejeune main gate back in April. Little’s rank and pay were also reduced to E-1, and he will receive a dishonorable discharge.
Little said he had been absent-mindedly flicking the safety switch on his M4 service rifle from “safe” to “semi” while directing traffic at the end of a 12-hour shift. When he returned to the gate house he was about to unload his weapon, but didn’t check to make sure the safety was on. He pulled back the charging handle and accidentally chambered a round. When that happened, he stood up to try to correct it, but pulled the trigger in the process, shooting Lance Cpl. Mark Boterf who was in front of him.
The lead attorney for the government argued Little should get a five-year sentence with forfeiture of all pay and rank and a dishonorable discharge for violating all four of the Marines’ cardinal firearms safety rules. Would a tougher sentence have sent a more powerful message for all Marines and service members?
On the other hand, Little’s defense pointed out he had taken full responsibility for his actions and stressed he will endure a lifetime of guilt and torment for what happened. Since this is an isolated incident, should Little’s punishment be left at that?
This tragic case certainly brings attention to the importance of weapon safety and proper procedures. The Marine’s death was an accident, but it could have easily been prevented had Little not been messing around with his gun. Are some service members becoming too comfortable with carrying such powerful weapons that they forget safety measures?
What can be done to prevent these tragedies from happening? What are some mistakes you’ve seen fellow service members make with their firearms that go against proper safety measures?
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Image Copyright: Hope Hodge Seck / Military Times