Prosecutors in Franklin County, Indiana say a 17-year old will not face murder charges after he shot and killed his mother’s boyfriend during a domestic assault last fall. Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Huerkamp says after his office investigated the incident, he determined that the teen was acting in defense of his mother and was not the aggressor in the attack.
It was September 7th of last year when several Batesville police officers responded to a domestic violence call received by 911. When police arrived at the home, they found 46-year old Benny Flannery on the ground with a gunshot wound to his chest and the 17-year old and his mother shaken up. The pair told authorities that Flannery had attacked the woman, and her son was forced to come to her defense.
The prosecutor said the young man’s quick thinking and brave actions saved his mother’s life. “At 8 in the morning on a holiday, he was confronted with an almost unimaginable scene, a violent criminal attacking his mother at knifepoint in the kitchen. It’s easy to say what you think you would do in a situation like this, but no one, especially no high school aged kid, would ever want to face this in reality. He is a hero. Period,” noted Huerkamp.
It was noted that Flannery had an extensive criminal history and was just released from prison in December of 2019 after serving sentences for Robbery, Dealing Methamphetamine, Theft, and Possession of Narcotics. He also served time as a result of previous felony convictions in the 2000s.
This young man is absolutely a hero, but it’s also worth pointing out that if gun control activists had their way he wouldn’t have been able to get to a gun to defend his mother from her abusive and violent boyfriend. Child Access Prevention laws are a favorite tool of the anti-gun lobby, who claim that laws subjecting gun owners to criminal liability if a minor accesses their firearm have the power to save lives.
I’m a firm believer in making sure that your firearms are stored in such a way that kids can’t easily get their hands on them, but in my opinion a one-size-fits-all law isn’t the right way to go about encouraging responsible gun storage. Should the mom who was protected by her son actually face charges because he was able to access a gun and use it against her attacker? That doesn’t make any sense to me, but that’s what many gun control activists appear to want based on their support for the most restrictive CAP laws.
In Indiana, the law states that an adult can be charged with “dangerous control of a child” if they “knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly permits the child (defined as a person under age 18) to possess a firearm”:
- While aware of a substantial risk that the child will use the firearm to commit a felony; and
- While failing to make reasonable efforts to prevent the use of a firearm by the child to commit a felony; or
- When the child has been convicted of a crime of violence or has been adjudicated as a juvenile for an offense that would constitute a crime of violence if the child were an adult.
That seems like a really fuzzy definition to me. In this case, for instance, what if an overzealous prosecutor decided that, even though the teen acted to defend his mother, mom should still face charges for allowing her son to access a gun in the home. Sure, the 17-year old fired shots in defense of another, but a prosecutor could still try to argue that the mom was aware there was a “substantial risk” that her son could have committed a felony instead of a justifiable homicide.
I don’t think that’s going to happen in this case, but because of the wording of the state’s Child Access Prevention law there’s nothing to stop an anti-gun prosecutor from moving forward with charges against the mother if they wanted to. As a parent and a gun owner I believe it’s my responsibility to ensure that young kids can’t get to my firearms. I also believe that it’s up to my wife and I to determine when our teenagers, who are sometimes at home by themselves, are responsible enough to have access to a firearm in the case of a break-in or an invasion of our rural and secluded home.
It sounds like the mother in this case has the same general philosophy that I do, and she’s likely alive today because of her point of view and her son’s ability to access a gun in their home. It’s a sad situation, but it could have been much worse if not for the quick thinking and heroism of the 17-year old willing and able to protect his mother as she was being attacked in their home.