Debate Magazine

Should Parents Whose Children Are Killed Playing with Guns Be Prosecuted?

Posted on the 27 December 2012 by Mikeb302000
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.

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