Thursday, December 27, 2012

Should Parents Whose Children are Killed Playing with Guns be Prosecuted?

MPR News
The case of an accidental shooting death of a 2-year-old boy is in the hands of the Hennepin County Attorney's office.  Authorities are considering what charges, if any, to bring against a Minneapolis father who they say left a loaded handgun within reach of his children. Police say the toddler was killed when his 4-year-old brother was playing with the gun. 

These kinds of cases are tough calls for prosecutors, who say they often struggle to strike a balance between justice and compassion. 

An MPR News analysis of state court data shows prosecuting parents for leaving guns around kids is rare, but not unprecedented in Minnesota.

Since 2001, about 85 people in the state have been convicted of one of two potential charges in this kind of case. Both apply to adults who leave unsecured, loaded firearms within reach of a child. The more serious charge considers this an act of child endangerment or neglect, because it could "substantially harm" or lead to the death of the child. 

About a third of all of these convictions were prosecuted in Hennepin County.
Only one-third seems consistent with what we read in the grizzly reports. But, it seems to me they have the compassion angle backwards. By prosecuting the ones whose children die or are seriously injured and giving a pass to the others they've got it exactly backwards.

The negligent gun owner whose child dies or is crippled for life deserves the compassion not the one whose kid is only slightly injured. So the whole thing doesn't make sense.

What should happen is everyone of these people should be charged and if convicted lose their gun rights. The most serious cases should receive compassion concerning jail time, that's all.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.


  1. We should have compassion for those whose actions lead to the death of a child, but apply harsh penalties to those whose actions cause only minor injuries or no injuries at all? Do you even hear what you say?

  2. We should deny gun rights to people who have either death or injury, or even just a near miss with firearms in the hands of children.

    The reason is that they have demonstrated that they are neither safe nor responsible gun owners / gun handlers.

    What I understand from mikeb is that the price of losing a child is harsher to a caring parent than any other penalty that society could impose.

    I think he is wrong; I think he (or she) should still be prosecuted for manslaughter / negligent homicide and include loss of gun rights forever.

    No one who behaves this way should have a gun ever, period.

    But then Campy, I think you are one of those who doesn't understand how to properly control and secure your weapon. Your judgment sleeping with a loaded gun on your nightstand is hardly intelligent or responsible gun behavior.

    Big deal, so Mikeb is too sympathetic to a grieving parent; there are worse faults.

    1. Maybe I wasn't clear. All of them lose the guns. I would suspend jail sentences for the bereaved.

    2. Dog Gone, there are worse faults, like being so bone-headedly stupid that you can't reason, but still think you're smart. I've asked you to explain how my handgun in my nightstand poses a danger to anyone while I'm asleep. Unless you believe in criminal fairies, that's not so easy to answer.

      Of course, you've yet to apologize for attacking me over the movement to deport Piers Morgan, and I doubt that you'll come around to respond to this message, either. Hit and run isn't a valid method of argument.

    3. The Federal minimum age for the purchase (not possession however) of any modern powder firearm is 18 years, for a long arm and 21 years for handguns, provided that such handguns are sold at a FFL dealer, otherwise the minimum age is only 18. One must be at least 21 to register a NFA item. Similar restrictions apply to all modern powder based ammunition, as such rifle and shotgun shells are restricted to those who are at least 18, while handgun ammunition must be sold to persons over 21. There is no federal prohibition against children (such as the ones described in Mike's post) possessing long arms (the minimum age for handgun possession is 18). As the State of South Dakota does not punish the possession of long arms by kiddies, any police officer who saw them with said weapons could not have done anything.

      The minimum age for possession of any firearms under any circumstances ought to be raised to 21 years. In accordance with such, the age of majority and age of consent should also follow suit, all to be set at 21. Adult children (American rednecks) with guns is bad enough. Allowing their intolerable offspring to be armed is even worse.

      Those who are bereaved due to their own depravity may benefit from the help of a correctional psychiatric program. I wouldn't advocate that they be punished to the full extent of the law, but such idiocy does deserve some form of punishment.