There’ve been gun control bills been introduced by Democrats in Congress this year, but so far none of them have seen any progress. One piece of legislation that’s expected to be a priority for anti-gun lawmakers is H.R. 748 and its Senate companion, S. 190, which would establish a new federal law requiring gun owners to keep their firearms locked up unless they were being used or “under the control” of the gun owner. While the text of the legislation isn’t yet available, the intent of the bill, according to Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, is to require “households with children under the age of 18 to lock all firearms.”
On the surface, the bill may sound reasonable. After all, who wants minors to be able to access a gun in the home? Why shouldn’t it be a crime if a 12-year old grabs a gun and pulls the trigger?
Well, what if the 12-year old is acting to stop home invaders from attacking his family? That’s not a hypothetical, but a real situation that played out recently in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Officials said two masked subjects forced their way into the 73-year-old Linda Ellis’ residence, demanding money. At least one of the suspects, identified as 19-year-old Khalil Herring, was armed – and allegedly shot Ellis.
“A 12-year-old juvenile occupant of the residence shot at the suspects with a firearm in self-defense, causing them to flee the area,” wrote officials in a statement.
Goldsboro police discovered Ellis in her apartment with a gunshot wound. She was taken to Wayne UNC Health Care, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
If gun control activists had their way, they’d add an insult (and criminal charges) to Ellis’ injuries. Under the terms of Blumenthal’s gun storage law, Ellis would be subject to federal prosecution because her grandson got ahold of a gun in her apartment. Either that, or Ellis would be dead because she followed the law and ensured that all of the firearms in her apartment were kept under lock and key.
Ellis’ family rightfully believes that the 12-year old who fired shots to protect his grandmother saved several lives that day.
“They came in the house, I open the door, I open it, and they came in there… One guy had a gun. They just put me down on the ground…” The [73-year-old woman] was in the kitchen, I don’t know why they shot her,” said the son of the woman, Randolph Bunn. He also happens to be the great-uncle of the child who fired the gun.
Goldsboro police said charges against the 12-year-old are not anticipated but the investigation is ongoing.
“[The intruder] just shot his grandma… He would have shot him too, he would’ve shot me too, he would’ve killed us all,” Bunn continued.
Instead, it was the home invader who ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
I’m sure that this was a traumatic event for all involved, especially for a 12-year old who suddenly was faced with the prospect of shooting a man to protect his grandmother, but does anyone honestly believe that the 73-year old woman should face criminal charges because her grandson was able to access a firearm and defend her life from a pair of armed home invaders who had already shot her once?
Maybe Richard Blumenthal believes that. I wouldn’t be surprised if his colleague from Connecticut, Sen. Chris Murphy believes it would be appropriate as well. Since Rep. Rosa DeLauro has introduced the federal gun storage bill that would have turned Ellis into a criminal, I can only guess that she too would be in favor of federal sanctions against the 73-year old woman.
I’m reasonably sure, however, that if you asked a jury of twelve Goldsboro, North Carolina residents whether or not Ellis should be prosecuted for allowing her grandson to access a gun in her home, they’d respond with some variation of “No ****ing way.”
I’m all in favor of responsible gun ownership, and that includes storing your firearms in such a way that only those you want to have access to your guns can easily get to them. I’m not, however, in favor of a one-size-fits-all mandate requiring every gun owner to keep their firearms under lock and key at all times, because that mandate ignores the fact that there are times when a minor might need to access a firearm for self-defense or defense of someone like their grandma.
We need gun owners to make good decisions about how they store their firearms, but the way to do that is through education and training, not criminalizing yet another aspect of legal gun ownership. If a mom, dad, or grandmother believe that a minor in their home is responsible enough to have access to that firearm in case they need to use it in self-defense, that should be their decision to make, not the government’s.
How we store our firearms should be determined by gun owners themselves, not by the heavy hand of Uncle Sam. If politicians like Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are serious about wanting to ensure responsible gun ownership, they should quit hanging around people whose idea of gun safety is “don’t own a gun” and start listening to the voices of gun owners themselves. Maybe they could give Linda Ellis a call and find out what she thinks about the idea of charging her with a crime because her grandson was able to save her life.
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