22 stolen guns leads to just 21 days behind bars for teen suspect

(Amber Ross/Yakima Police Department via AP)

Given that one of the components in the deal brokered by several U.S. senators includes using juvenile criminal records when adults under the age of 21 purchase a rifle or shotgun at retail, can we talk about the juvenile justice system itself? Specifically the lack of consequences for young offenders.

Take the recent story that Tom Knighton covered here at Bearing Arms featuring two brothers aged 14 and 11 who were busted with nearly two dozen firearms reported stolen from a Florida gun store. Tom mentioned that the 14-year old was apparently already on probation, but the story is actually much worse than that.

The father of these two kids recently spoke to WINK News in Florida about the trouble that he’s had with them, and what he sees as massive indifference on the part of authorities.

A father said he feels helpless after his two young sons were arrested for stealing guns from a gun store.

The father, who WINK News is not identifying, spoke about his two sons, ages 11 and 14, after they were arrested for stealing 22 guns on Wednesday from the Guns 4 Less in Cape Coral.

The boys, who WINK News is not naming or showing because of their ages, will spend 21 days in juvenile detention.

But that punishment is not enough for their father.

The boys’ dad said his older son is extremely troubled.

“All they keep doing is keep giving him 21 days, 21 days, a slap on the wrist,” the boys’ father said.

His elder son thinks he can get away with it, he said.

“I want them to stick him in boot camp or some sort of place you know where he has to follow rules because I’m trying and it’s not working and I don’t want to hurt the boy but he tries to jump on me and everything,” their father said.

Their father said he believes his sons wanted the guns to rob people. But, he is scared they will wind up dead or killing someone else.

Records show the Cape Coral Police Department was called 13 times in the past year to the home of the two young brothers.

The father said some of those times were him calling the cops on his own sons.

The father confirmed what police said about the 14-year-old, that he’s got a criminal record.

But his younger son is often coerced into bad behavior by his older brother, the father said.

“I don’t know what to do,” the father said.

The father said the police told him his two sons might be linked to dozens of other crimes.

“I’m finding out news that isn’t even on the news,” said their father.

Three weeks in juvenile detention for stealing 22 guns. That’s less than a day per stolen firearm, and it sounds like this the standard sentence for the 14-year old.

The cops are coming out to the home at least once a month, the kid is getting picked up on a regular basis, but after a few weeks vacation in juvenile detention he’s back at home with a father who clearly can’t control him.

When a father is pleading with prosecutors to deliver more serious consequences to his own child in the hopes of helping to turn him away from the dead end road he’s traveling down, only to be ignored by the system, we’ve got a problem here.

I understand that the primary purpose of the juvenile justice is supposed to be rehabilitation, not necessarily incarceration. But not only is this 14-year old not spending much time behind bars for his offenses, he’s clearly not being rehabilitated. That’s why dad wants him sent to a boot camp or some other facility where he won’t just be warehoused for 21-days before he’s released.

Juvenile crime rates are steeply increasing in many parts of the country, and yet we don’t seem to be doing much about it. Stories like this are only going to become more commonplace as troubled teens (and younger) realize that there are few consequences when they commit serious crimes, and yet the focus of far too many politicians continues to be on restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners rather than addressing the rapidly growing problem of prolific young offenders like this 14-year old in Florida.