A state representative who has authored pro-gun legislation is taking the blame for the accidental shooting of a hunter a month ago in northern Oklahoma.
“I just felt horrible about it. I just was sick,” said Rep. Steve Vaughan, who was shooting at a pheasant with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Another hunter, Drew Ihrig, was hit in the side of the head by a single shotgun pellet about the size of a BB.
“I was shot but it was a minor injury. I’m fine. It’s no big deal,” said Ihrig, an attorney with offices in Bartlesville and Blackwell. “This was a pure accident. It could have happened to anybody on any given day. I hold no ill will at all.”
The pheasant hunt was at the Bluestem Hunting Reserve north of Perry.
The reserve owner, Verl Brorsen, said Vaughan accepted blame even though others were also firing.
“We’ve been doing this for 15 years. We’ve had over 4,000 people come through. First time anybody has been injured,” the reserve owner said.
“It wasn’t anything intentional. There’s really no proof that he was the one that fired the pellet that ended up there,” Brorsen said. “There was other people shooting, too....He’s a stand-up guy and took responsibility.”
Vaughan, R-Ponca City, was elected in 2010. He is 55.
The conservative lawmaker authored legislation in 2011 patterned after Oklahoma’s Make My Day law. The legislation expanded the right to business owners, managers and employees to use deadly force when they have a reasonable fear they face death or great bodily harm.
He also was the House author in 2011 of legislation that created an official annual “Second Amendment Day” in Oklahoma. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of the people to keep and bear arms.
Vaughan admits he shouldn’t have fired.
“A bird got up and flew between us, oh, probably 50 yards away,” he said. “I shot at the bird and, I guess, one of my BBs hit this guy.
“It could have bounced off a tree. He was in some trees. I really didn’t see him that good in the trees. And...it hit the side of his face. I didn’t even know I hit him.
“Probably like 20 minutes later, I saw him walking back...and he was holding a rag up to his head where he had been hurt....And, I said, ‘You know, everybody’s shooting. I don’t know that it was me, per se, but I would say it probably would have been because the bird did go that direction and I did shoot that direction,’” Vaughan said.
The legislator said Ihrig went to the doctor and came back to the hunt later that day.
The legislator said he apologized.
“A 12-gauge (shell) has like 500 BBs ... so they’re going in every different direction when they go out of there, so, son of a gun, one of them hit him,” Vaughan said.
“The sun was just coming up. It blinded me a little bit, too, when the bird went between us. I’m a safety guy. Gosh, I’m as safety as I can be. I was so mad at myself for even thinking about shooting the bird in this direction where I knew he was down in there,” Vaughan said.
Ihrig declined to talk about his current medical condition.
Vaughan said, “I think there is still a BB ... under his skin. ... It doesn’t hurt him at all but he’s wanting to get it out.”