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If your child accidentally shoots someone, yes, it's your fault.

Posted by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:18 PM
  • 15 Replies

Another “Accidental” Shooting. Another Child Dead. Another State Claims, Wrongly, That No One Is at Fault.

Given my frequent harping on this subject, it will not surprise you to learn that I disagree with this conclusion. I don’t doubt that the brother was conscientious about gun safety. According to the report, he had even “corrected the father on handling the weapon on occasion.” But what that tells me is that the boy may have cared more about gun safety than his father did. And that’s the problem.

In Virginia you can’t drive until you’re 16, plus three months. You can’t drink until you’re 21. But for some reason you can own a basic shotgun at any age. That blows my mind. Anyone who has ever had or been a child knows that no matter how well-intentioned or cautious they may be, children are impulsive and scatterbrained. And so are some adults, sure, but the difference is that adults are supposed to know better. Kids aren’t. Kids are irresponsible because their brains and bodies haven’t fully developed yet. They lack the judgment, experience, and perspective that comes with age.

According to the Hollifield report, the boy’s father “stated that he trusted his son with the firearm and that his son was knowledgeable about maintenance and care of the firearm.” But no matter how responsible and knowledgeable your kids might seem, they’re still kids. They’re going to make mistakes and forget things because that’s what kids do. If you’re going to let your kid have a gun, then you can’t assume that they won’t do anything stupid with it. You have to assume that they will do something stupid with it, and you have to do everything in your power to make sure they don’t. That means caring more about gun safety than your kid does, not less.

Some readers have emailed me questioning why I’m fixating on accidental child shooting deaths, given how relatively rare they are. And they’re right. The absolute number of children who are killed in accidental shootings is low. But these incidents could almost all have been prevented if the parents or guardians in these cases had been more attentive. The primary purpose of a gun is to shoot small holes in things, and if a boy shoots a small hole in his sister because he forgot there was a shell in his shotgun’s chamber, it is the fault of the parents. They were the ones who allowed him not only to have the gun, but to attempt to fix it, alone and unsupervised, in the freaking living room. An adult who gives a kid a gun needs to bear responsibility for what the kid does with it. Prosecuting the parents of the children in these incidents sends a clear message that society expects those parents to take care of their guns, and their children.

by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:18 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Ruby Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Agree, the parents should be held accountable, they should LOSE permanently their right to own any form of fire-arm -ever.

by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 3:41 PM

If you're going to have firearms in the home and allow your child to be a part of the upkeep and care of these weapons (which IS a smart thing for a parent to do IMO), then you'd better be sure to also put in place the rule of when and where to clean the weapon as well as "fix it" and to ensure no ammunition is left in the weapon at the time they do this.

That said, what if the parent has done all of this and the child still abandons the rules and guidelines that they've instilled in their child?

Are the parent's still responsible?

(Going away from the posted article a little and merely playing devil's advocate with these questions)

by on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:16 PM

13 years old? 

no. it was his fault. accident or not. he was at fault. 

he will need therapy after this. :( 

a small child, yes it absolutely IS the parents fault. 

but how exactly is it the parents fault here? 

by Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I 100 percent believe the parents are at fault. Letting him clean the gun alone with his little sister nearby?? WTF, DUDE.

No child of mine will ever own a gun until they are older. key word here- "child". 

by Gold Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 4:54 PM

I agree that parents should be held accountable with they give their children guns. 

by Bazinga! on Jun. 17, 2013 at 5:06 PM

 I agree

by Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 5:10 PM

I agree

by Platinum Member on Jun. 17, 2013 at 5:15 PM

I'd be on suicide watch if I was this boys mother. My God this is horrible. 

by Obama licker on Jun. 17, 2013 at 5:18 PM

I think your title should say 'If a GUN OWNERS child takes their gun and kills someone it Is THE GUN OWNERS fault and if any child takes their gun in the gun owners home and kills someone it IS the gun owners fault" etc

And yes it is. Fully.

by Whoopie on Jun. 17, 2013 at 5:29 PM

If a minor picks up an easily accessible, loaded weapon and kills anyone or anything, it is absolutely the fault of the gun owner and the adult in charge at the time of the killing-

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