Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

If a child shoots himself or someone else because he got his hands on a gun, should the adults be charged with a crime?

Asked by Dutchess_III (40033points) 1 month ago

Three year old fatally shoots himself. Why in the hell don’t the adults who were negligent about putting the gun away get charged with a crime?

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61 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Up here unless you’re a cop, you very much can be.
Several cases the parents or the owner of the firearm were charged with insecure storage.
The cop was a bunch a years ago, and a friend of the cops kid got his hands on one of the cops private guns and accidentally killed himself, the RCMP at the time said it was a horrible tragedy but didn’t think anything more could be done, REALLY ??? why is the cop exempt from safe storage laws the rest of law abiding gun owners must obey?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Several states have “Gun Storage” laws and if the gun wasn’t property stored/locked then the adults are arrested if injury or death has occurred .

Dutchess_III's avatar

Apparently other people, including your own kid, dying isn’t enough of a deterrent. But throwing the adult in jail for a couple of years just might be.

elbanditoroso's avatar

“thoughts and prayers” (snort) to the kid.

Yes, of course the parent should be held responsible.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Dutchess_III As a law abiding firearm enthusiast I totally support safe firearm storage, example in my house starting at the front door you have to go through three locked doors, before you come to the gun safe that is bolted to the wall.
I do not believe in displaying the guns, if you came into our house you wouldn’t even know we owned a gun.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t’ think they’re necessarily on display. They’re just thrown in a drawer or something.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

But that is unsafe storage when it comes to children and thieves.
At the very least if one can not afford a gun safe then every firearm in the house should have a locked trigger lock on it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, common sense should tell you that. The problem is, idiots don’t have common sense.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

You’re telling me remember I have to drive among these idiots each and every day!

ragingloli's avatar

Absolutely. Negligent Homicide at least.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The reasoning is probably that the parents have been punished enough. I’m certainly no gun lover, but even I would find no satisfaction in the prosecution of the parents.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It would be a deterrent. They’d think long and hard about a gun lying about if it meant something could happen to them, like jail time.
Apparently their children dying isn’t enough.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

But it is to show the definite need for safe firearm storage, regardless of wealth if you own a gun at the very least it should have a trigger lock on it.
Especially if there are children involved.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I’m not sure. I mean should a person you have to tell to secure a gun from a 3 year old be allowed to own a gun OR a 3 year old?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Good point^^^

kritiper's avatar

No. Leaving your gun someplace where some kid can get to it and shoot himself or some other kid (or you) is punishment enough.

josie's avatar

Unless there is a law on the books in that state about gun storage you would have trouble in criminal court.
Having said that…
I am all about the Second Amendment and I am also about laws that mandate locking up guns.
The Second Amendment says you can keep and bear arms but it does NOT say which arms you can keep and bear and how you store them while you are keeping but not bearing them.
This case supports my argument

flutherother's avatar

Wasn’t there a gun range nearby where his parents could have taught him how to handle a weapon? What is America coming to? ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

Apparently when it comes to gums America has NO common sense @stanleybmanly. We’re just idiotically brain dead.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I wish it were that easily dismissed. I mean In fairness, I can claim that if guns were eliminated, the kid would still be with us, but I can’t define gun owners as people who allow their 3 year olds to play with guns.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If we just had much stricter laws governing them, that child might still be with us.

tinyfaery's avatar

Accessory to murder.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Criminal negligence, but as I said, for the parents NOTHING will compare to the punishment that will dog them for the remainder of their days.

jca2's avatar

CPS report for sure, too. If you’re found guilty of that, there are a whole bunch of jobs you couldn’t hold (teacher, school bus driver, nurse, doctor, most school jobs, most health care jobs, etc).

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III You can’t govern stupidity.

seawulf575's avatar

Most likely. You are responsible for your personal belongings. If you have a pool and a child drowns in it, you are considered liable. Even if you have a fence up, what happens on your property is your responsibility. So the same should be true with a gun. As a gun owner, I take my ownership very seriously. I had a couple friends when I was in 8th grade…they found one of their dad’s guns. One ended up shooting the other and killing him. The one that shot ended up in an institution. I don’t remember if the father was sued or charged with a crime, but the damage was done. When I got older, that lesson never left me.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

So, why aren’t they @seawulf575?

Pinguidchance's avatar

@Dutchess_lll If a child shoots himself or someone else because he got his hands on a gun, should the adults be charged with a crime?

Only if it’s illegal.

Yellowdog's avatar

What if its a female child who shoots herself or someone else because SHE got HER hands on a gun? Does it even matter?

And it depends of course if a crime was committed by the adults.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

The crime ^^ is if the adults violated any safe storage law,resulting with a minor getting ahold of a firearm and hurting themselves or someone else,with a firearm that wasn’t stored according to the law.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Improper storage of firearms is gross negligence and should include legal ramifications. This is one thing I’m harder on than even the antigun community.

gorillapaws's avatar

No, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The kid should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes, I think so. Like @SQUEEKY2 ours are locked away.

Growing up my grandfather never locked his away, they were always in my reach, but we were taught not to touch them, ever, and we didn’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Yellowdog“What if its a female child who shoots herself or someone else because SHE got HER hands on a gun? Does it even matter?” What ARE you blathering about?

“And it depends of course if a crime was committed by the adults.” A crime WAS committed by the adults, IMO. But since it involves guns there probably will be no law passed actually holding them responsible.

@stanly, “Criminal negligence, but as I said, for the parents NOTHING will compare to the punishment that will dog them for the remainder of their days.” Why isn’t the possibility of that enough for them to think twice before they upholster their gun and toss it on the dresser?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

This shouldn’t even be any kind of debate,if children are present then lock your guns up, no matter how much you tell a kid no they are more curious than the average cat,and if the opportunity comes they wilt their hands on it, so lock them up when not in use.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess people just think, “Well, it won’t happen to me.”

ragingloli's avatar

They should also have a microchip implanted in their brain, that will force them to relive that moment every night, for the rest of their miserable lives.

Zaku's avatar

I actually think it’s wrong to charge parents with crimes if their children kill themselves accidentally. I think losing their own child is punishment enough.

In cases where someone else dies, I would think it would be up to the prosecuting attorney to prove that the owners of the dangerous thing were unreasonably and exceptionally negligent to a degree that would make them responsible.

I didn’t read the specific case, but it seems to me that as written, the question in the title:

“If a child shoots himself or someone else because he got his hands on a gun, should the adults be charged with a crime?”
– Should be answered “not necessarily, it depends on the circumstances”. The question is worded such that a child getting his hands on a gun equals responsibility for a child killing him/herself. It seems to me there would be other aspects of the situation needed to amount to liability for the shooting.

For an example of an actual case I do know about, one man took three children hunting with rifles. No one thought the rifles were loaded, and one went off while held by one child, and another child was shot in the leg, and had to be taken to a hospital. That’s an awful thing, and even though I didn’t see it happen myself, hearing that story as a child made me not want to deal with real guns. But I think it was an accident, of a type that can happen with guns, and by itself as described does not amount to criminal liability for the adult (unless perhaps he didn’t have the child’s parents’ permission to do that, but I am sure he did).

Not all dangerous or even potentially deadly things mean that someone has to be guilty, or that something has to be outlawed.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Very true @Zaku and the hunting incident was truly an accident.
And perhaps better safety guide lines should be looked into when getting youth involved in firearm sports.
But we are talking about a toddler getting hold of a firearm and that is negligence on the parents part, and if found guilty of violating any safe storage laws then have to be accountable for that.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 “This shouldn’t even be any kind of debate,if children are present then lock your guns up”

This is a totally unnecessary impingement on liberty. If we make the punishment severe enough, kids will be deterred from playing with them. Guns aren’t the problem, it’s kids that have no respect for rules that are the problem. We need more guns and more discipline and that will solve this problem.

ragingloli's avatar

The only way to stop a bad toddler with a gun, is a good toddler with a gun

gorillapaws's avatar

@ragingloli Great point, the bad toddlers are going to get the guns no matter what, after all prohibition doesn’t work so we need to arm as many good toddlers as we can.

Brian1946's avatar

If you take guns away from good kids, then only bad kids will have guns. This is why I feel that we should arm babysitters.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If you look at the details, the child in question was three years old @Zaku. Three.

My point is, if the thought of their child killing themselves isn’t enough of a deterrent for putting the guns securely away, maybe the thought of themselves going to jail would be.

Tell me you aren’t serious @gorillapaws…..

Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t expect it was a matter of not enough deterrent. What do you think is a worse consequence? Jail, or your child killing themselves with your own gun?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Your child killing themselves is a bigger deterrent for me. But apparently it’s not enough of a deterrent for some people, now is it?

Brian1946's avatar

@Dutchess_III

I’m certain that neither @gorillapaws nor @ragingloli are serious, and I know that I’m not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was referring the @gorillapaws’ comment “This is a totally unnecessary impingement on liberty. If we make the punishment severe enough, kids will be deterred from playing with them. Guns aren’t the problem, it’s kids that have no respect for rules that are the problem. We need more guns and more discipline and that will solve this problem.”

raum's avatar

@Brian1946 Wait…you really don’t want to arm the babysitters? I want my lurve points back.

Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III What if it’s not about the amount of deterrent? Even in the case of deliberate crimes, it’s generally acknowledged by criminologists that more severe punishments tend not to deter intentional crime. Deterring accidents? It seems to me that’s not going to do much if anything to prevent people from having accidents, because there’s no consideration going on where someone is considering the punishment on top of their child dying due to a mistake they made.

I wonder how much more deterrent you could add to the consequence before that would actually work? Torture them for 10 years? Have them eaten alive by ants? Kill the rest of their family? That might terrify them, and might get them to buy gun safes and locks, but NO, AN ACCIDENT IS STILL NOT A MATTER OF “APPARENTLY IT’S NOT ENOUGH OF A DETERRENT” – it seems to me that would mainly just add more misery where there’s already enough misery.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

So what is the answer to prevent small children from getting their hands on and playing with an insecure firearm in the home?
Anti-gun people think ban them all and problem goes away.
With that kind of thinking why not just ban children and this wouldn’t happen either.
Punishing parents when a tragedy like this happens doesn’t ring well with a few people even though they might have violated safe storage laws.
I know banning all firearms especially for law abiding owners will make the world a safer place.and totally make sure no children will accidentally shoot themselves or someone else.

Zaku's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 I would say the answer is education and public awareness (I’ve avoided all gun violence all my life by hearing the story I mentioned as a child, having no guns and being around no guns – voluntarily), and understanding that people, even children, sometimes die from accidents.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I think some of the people that don’t secure guns in a household with little kids; drive their car without wearing seat belts, have bald tires on their autos in rain and go down to the store to get a case of beer after drinking a six-pack.

Their mantra is it can’t happen to me.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I have been around firearms my entire life and have never had a firearm accident, and education on firearms and firearms safety has had a lot to do with it.
So I agree with @Zaku education is paramount because for many reasons not everyone chooses live without firearms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It depends. With the advent of MADD in 1980, and tightening up the drinking and driving laws, making the penalties much more severe, and drunk driving has dropped from 25,000 a year to 10,000 a year. That’s because of no tolerance penalties.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

And yet there is still 10,000 a year of idiots that choose to drink and drive.

ragingloli's avatar

Yeah, you only cut the number in less than half.
Clearly it does not work at all.

Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III Your line of thinking, and the laws against them, make part of me want to drive drunk without a seatbelt, buy a gun and not lock it up, and then learn to ride a bike so I can do so while not wearing a bike helmet.

But I’ve never done ANY of those things, because they seem foolish to me and I understand and agree they’re all bad ideas (except the bike helmet one, which I think should be up to whoever the rider is).

I know I’m just one example, but I don’t think you can rightly claim that the penalties get all the credit for the reduction in drunk driving statistics. I think it’s mostly from awareness of all of the consequences, and the changes in public conversations and attitudes about it.

I think there is a far stronger case though for drunk driving (and enabling) penalties having effects, than there is for accidental shootings. In the case of accidental shootings, the consequences don’t get much worse than your child accidentally dying.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I agree with you @Zaku. I would be SO paranoid about it I don’t even have a gun anywhere in the house. If I had one it would be so locked up it would take me 5 minutes to get at.it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

For most gun owners that’s the case. Personally I remove the bolts from my rifles and lock them in a different safe. I leave magazines empty on top of that. I do have a handgun in a small quick access safe in the bedroom for emergencies though. Still have to insert a magazine and chamber before its ready. It would take 20 min to get a rifle ready. I’d have the handgun ready in about 5 seconds.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

It would take me at least 10 minutes to get a firearm out and ready to shoot it.
BUT I have never even thought about needing a firearm for personal protection.

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