A 9-year-old Arizona boy charged with fatally shooting his father and another man pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of negligent homicide under terms of a plea agreement that does not specify jail time but places him on "intensive probation."
The boy, who was 8 when the deaths took place in November, entered the plea in an Apache County (Arizona) Superior Court hearing. In exchange for the plea, two counts of murder were dropped.
When we discussed this case before, one of the main points everyone agreed upon was that the police and prosecutors didn't do right by the boy. We also thoroughly covered the question of what age a person must be in order to be held responsible for their actions, but on that we came up with quite varying ideas.
Here's a video which aired on local TV a while back. It certainly illustrates the twists and turns this case has taken.
What we haven't mentioned in reference to this shooting, I suppose because there were so many other fascinating elements, is the availability of the gun he used and how that might have played a part. The old argument about the gun just being another tool and if someone really wants to kill, they can find a way to do it, for me is total nonsense. Perhaps "total" is too strong. It's nonsense though, and for the simple reason that most murders are not like that at all. Even in cases were there is some degree of premeditation, the extreme efficacy of a gun as a killing "tool" often makes the difference. The old argument that the killer will always find a way to kill only works in those rare cases, percentage-wise, in which the killer is clearly determined to do the deed. In most cases, there are swirling emotions, mixed feelings, second thoughts. In some cases, it's a completely spur-of-the-moment act. In all of these the availability of the gun is critical.
When this 8-year-old boy decided to put an end to the spankings, or to lash out at his dad for some other reason, if there had been no gun around, if he had not been raised in a gun-saturated environment, everyone would be alive today, perhaps receiving the psychological help they need.
Instead we've got this mess. There's your gun culture.
On the other hand, maybe he didn't even do it, as S suggests.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.