A 10-year-old California boy reportedly took a gun out of his father’s car Saturday and shot and killed another 10-year-old.
The 10-year-old alleged perpetrator was arrested on suspicion of murder, CNN reported.
Authorities charged the boy’s father, 53-year-old Arkete Davis, with firearm-based felonies, plus child endangerment and with being an accessory after the fact, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.
Embedded below in this commentary is a polling question: Do you agree with the decision to charge the father?
I’ll let you make that decision. But I want us to look together at some complexities related to this case and constantly changing concepts of parental responsibility.
First, any household with children and guns (or knives or poisons or tall trees or televisions showing hazardous wrestling moves) requires serious parental responsibility.
That’s Job One for parents: to take responsibility for all hazards.
The level of that responsibility can be debatable, as I continually see in online discussions about how some of us grew up as what are called “free-range kids,” and did things like wandering the streets in ways some today consider child neglect.
But there are some things that require direct parental responsibility. These are why there are laws regarding ages for driving, alcohol consumption, entering contracts and voting.
And there needs to be sober supervision on when we may introduce young people to power tools, farm tractors and firearms.
Parents need to decide, based on the maturity and perhaps the physical strength and coordination of the child.
In that vein, some advocate protecting children by keeping all firearms continually locked up, meaning they’ll always be away from children; others note that is ineffective in a self-defense situation such as a home invasion.
Either way, parents are responsible for 1) making sure firearms are locked up or 2) making sure they are hidden from very young children, and that children as they grow older are taught iron-clad principles of gun safety and handling.
Depends on the household; it depends on the maturity of the kids. To one degree or another, there need to be security precautions with firearms.
Ultimately, the parents are responsible.
Then there’s this — At what point do parents become responsible for mischief or serious crimes their children commit?
Some communities have enacted ordinances making parents responsible for their children’s vandalism. I would concur that’s appropriate, from a financial standpoint; I’d balk at criminal charges against such parents.
But with the egregious facts of the California shooting case, the father seems liable for some degree of negligent homicide.
And authorities may be correct in throwing the book at him, especially since, according to the CNN report, Davis was not legally allowed to possess a firearm.
The gun his son allegedly used had been reported stolen in 2017, sheriff’s deputies said.
So Davis’ alleged illegal possession of the gun and allowing his son to have access to it does seem to reflect irresponsibility on the part of Davis and can justify criminal charges.
What’s more, Davis’ son bragged about his dad’s gun before shooting the victim, deputies said.
And there’s another side to the equation.
Keith Frierson was the 10-year-old victim in this incident. How can his loss be addressed to his mother, Brittani Frierson?
“He said – ‘Can I go ride my bike?’ recalled a tearful Frierson in a report by KXTV-TV. “That’s the last time I see my baby! Next time I see my baby he was gone on this ground!”
Asked if the shooter was a friend, she replied: “He considered him a friend of the neighborhood kids. We’ve been here a little over six years.”
No criminal charges, no legal settlements, nothing can undo the injustice against Brittani Frierson and her son, Keith.
So answer the question in the poll, if you like.
And ignore the part of the CNN story about this case, which made sure to get its message across by including no fewer than three links regarding children’s deaths by gunfire, plus a link to an opinion piece entitled: “America Once Valued Life More than Guns. When Did That Change?”
No, CNN, this was not a story about guns. It was about kids able to do really stupid, evil things.
And why they need responsible adults to stop them.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.