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When A Kid Takes A Gun, Who’s Responsible?

Police tape hangs across the street in front a house in Park City, Kansas.
Police tape hangs across the street in front a house in Park City, Kansas.

Last week, a teenager in Michigan was accused of fatally shooting four of his classmates atOxford High School. He’s been charged in the shooting —and so have his parents.

Michigan Prosecutor Karen McDonald said they bought him the gun he used.

“I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable, and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility,” McDonald said when announcing the charges Friday.

It’s extremely rare for gun owners to be held responsible when a child gets a hold of their weapon. 

A Washington Post investigation found that there were 84 schoolshootings from 1999 to 2018 where a minor took the gun from parents or relatives. The gun owners faced punishment in only four of those cases. 

And that’s just school shootings. So far in 2021, there have been at least 322 unintentional shootings by children resulting in 132 deaths. That’s according to data compiled from media reports by advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. 

But more states – including Michigan – areconsidering passing laws to hold gun owners responsible.


Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Amanda Williams