In 2007, when I was working full-time in the Canadian Army, I printed off a CBC news article with a large picture of Cpl. Kevin Megeney above it. I added in large letters: “Why Weapons Handling Skills Matter.” We train (and train and train) our soldiers to take the proper precautions around weapons – especially to ensure their weapons are properly cleared and unloaded. Our business is serious; I tell my soldiers never to point a weapon in jest – we train to kill.
Some never learn these lessons, despite our best efforts.
Today, Cpl. Matthew Wilcox was sentenced to four years in prison for negligent performance of duty and criminal negligence causing the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney – his friend.
Wilcox had a professional responsibility to properly handle his weapon, to make sure it was properly cleared. A pistol is not a toy, and these men had a professional responsibility not to treat it as such. Can horseplay with weapons ever lead to anything good?
That Wilcox never intended to cause harm to Megeney does not soften the blow. There is no silver-lining to this story: one man is dead – and missed desperately by his friends and family; another will go to prison, kicked out of the Canadian Forces, and forced to start a new life forever overshadowed with remorse and regret.