Every once in a while I come across a story that frustrates me to the point that I have to put down my laptop and walk away for a bit. The senseless killing of MacKeon ‘Mackey’ Schulte by his friend Seth Culver, and the reaction of Culver’s parents, is one of those instances.
In May, Schulte and another friend went to Culver’s house at 2:30 AM and began rapping on his window, presumably attempting to wake Culver so that they could sneak out, as generations of teens have done before them.
What neither Schulte nor the friend expected was how Seth Culver would respond:
Startled by the noises at his window, Culver grabbed a World War II-era, .38-caliber handgun given to him as a present by his father and shot once through the glass, striking MacKeon in the head, according to authorities and Culver’s parents.
The case will soon place the Culver family in an unwanted spotlight: Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito told the AP he will convene a coroner’s jury next month to recommend whether criminal charges are warranted.
In interviews this week, Len and Regina Culver said they now realize they should not have allowed their son to keep the loaded revolver in his bedroom.
Len Culver, 60, said he had instructed his son on how to handle weapons responsibly, enrolling him in a hunter safety course when the boy was 13. Culver said he didn’t know until police told him on the morning of the shooting that it’s generally illegal under federal law for a person under 18 to possess a handgun.
‘I don’t want them to make some BS, liberal deal out of this,’ Len Culver said. ‘He did it. Yes, he did it. But let’s treat it like what it is. It isn’t going to happen again. Mack’s gone.’
Let’s discuss this “BS, liberal deal.”
In this tragedy we have the story of parents who didn’t bother to learn the law who gave a minor a loaded handgun. They allowed him to possess it with little or no guidance on how to properly store or use it. They let him keep it loaded, in a drawer, even after he illegally concealed carried it to a friend’s house weeks before, displaying criminally dangerous immaturity.
Their son then shot and killed the same friend because he was never trained to identify his target or to understand legal self-defense.
I feel pity for Seth Culver. He obviously lacked the maturity or the training to be trusted with a handgun, nor the insight to realize that for himself. He now has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed his best friend. That’s a horrible sentence in and off itself. But that sympathy aside, the fact remains that Schulte is dead.
Seth Culver shot him in the head without anything approaching legal justification under castle doctrine (there was no attempt made to enter the home). Seth Culver should face a charge of negligent homicide for Schulte’s death if justice is to be served.
But that alone wouldn’t really be real justice, would it?
While Seth Culver pulled the trigger, Len and Regina Culver loaded the revolver and gave it to their under-trained minor son, then let him retain the handgun after he acted recklessly with it just weeks before.
Even now, Len Culver’s attitude is both callous and cruel as he dismisses Schulte’s death with a flippant response that Schulte’s death wasn’t a big deal.
If prosecutor Scott Twito wants to hold the responsible parties accountable, Len and Regina must face charges.
As responsible, law-abiding gun owners ourselves, we should add our voices to the chorus demand that Len and Regina Culver be held responsible for facilitating this death.