Anyone who talks much about firearms will tell you that you should keep your firearms locked up when not in use. This is something that, on the surface, we would seem to have in common with gun control advocates. Where we differ is whether it should be mandatory storage or just a strong suggestion.
However, that point of difference is significant, and for good reason.
In New Mexico, that argument has been renewed following a school shooting.
There’s a renewed push to create a law in New Mexico for people who don’t secure their guns at home. It follows last week’s shooting at Washington Middle School that left a 13-year-old student dead and another facing a murder charge. Some state lawmakers want to hold gun owners responsible if they don’t lock up their guns and keep them away from kids. However, the idea is already facing some pushback.
Friday’s shooting at Albuquerque’s Washington Middle School has rocked the community. Thirteen-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed allegedly by another 8th-grade student, Juan Saucedo, Jr. The criminal complaint said Saucedo, Jr. brought the gun, which belong to his father, from home. The shooting is creating a renewed push from some state lawmakers to punish gun owners who don’t lock up their guns.
“The point of the bill is to make a strong statement from the state that you should secure your firearms,” said Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D- Albuquerque). The Democratic state senator sponsored a bill this past legislative session that would’ve made it a misdemeanor if gun owners didn’t lock up their guns and someone else got a hold of it. “It’s an educational function first and then there’s a consequence if you don’t,” said the Senator.
No, it’s not. It’s penalizing someone for being the victim of a crime.
See, that’s what’s missing from this argument. The teenager stole his father’s gun. It’s not likely Dad gave him permission to take a handgun to school and shoot another student, after all.
More importantly, it turns out that some students knew the teen brought a gun to school, but apparently never shared that information with anyone who could have done something about it.
The criminal complaint just filed in the case says in the hours before the shooting, Juan Saucedo had the gun in his backpack and he showed it to multiple kids at school.
“If anybody, whether it be student, staff or parents know if something that needs to be addressed by school policy, please don’t hesitate to let us know,” said APS Police Chief Steve Gallegos.
The criminal complaint says Saucedo’s father noticed the gun was missing from his home by noon on Friday, the day of the shooting. He went to the school and saw rescue crews on campus. He saw his son in handcuffs.
Multiple kids. And not one of them told a teacher, the principal, or a school resource officer.
The sad thing is that’s not uncommon. In fact, according to a Secret Service report that came out earlier this year, more than 90% of students who planned an attack at school told someone about it beforehand. That’s why the Secret Service says that the biggest key to stopping stuff like this is simply to say something when students see something.
Most of the attackers communicated a prior threat to their target or communicated their intentions to carry out an attack. In many of these cases, someone observed a threatening communication or behavior but did not act, either out of fear, not believing the attacker, misjudging the immediacy or location, or believing they had dissuaded the attacker. These findings continue to highlight the importance of encouraging students, school personnel, and family members to report troubling or concerning behaviors, in order to ensure that those in positions of authority can intervene.
If Lopez really wants to pass legislation with an educational function, then why not start there? Why not push for a media campaign designed to encourage students to speak up when they see that one of their classmates has brought a gun to school, or when they hear about plans for an attack? That would do far more good than pushing a mandatory storage bill.
But that’s not gun control, which is the real reason Lopez is trying to push this legislation. Instead of focusing on the crime and how to stop it, she’s more interested in putting yet another gun control law in place.