Should Child Who Brought Gun To School Have Been Arrested?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

On Friday, I wrote about the reported increase in gun incidents at schools. It’s a troubling thing, made all the worse by the fact that all of the laws meant to prevent this kind of thing clearly aren’t working.

Along those lines, we’ve got a story out of Florida of a 10-year-old doing just that.

Parents of children who attend Walker Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale have many questions after a 10-year-old student was found with a gun in his backpack Wednesday morning.

“How did the 10-year-old get into the school with a gun?” parent Monique Higgins asked.

The gun scare sent the school into temporary lockdown but the student wasn’t arrested.

In response to the incident, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said it wouldn’t criminalize the child, rather making sure his family gets the help they need.

Attorney Michael Gottlieb is not involved in the case but explained to Local 10 News a possible reason why the young boy was not charged.

“When you arrest a 10-year-old, you create a significant amount of trauma,” said Gottlieb, a criminal defense attorney and state representative. “And if they looked at this as a 10-year-old who is already suffering from some type of mental disease mental defect or some kind of family trauma, they made a decision that this is a child that society would benefit best if this child gets services rather than get arrested.”

Now, the question is whether this is the right call or not.

Frankly, I think it is.

I have a daughter who is just about the same age as this kid. While she’s been taught to leave firearms alone and she doesn’t have unsupervised access to guns, I can almost see her doing something like this as well. Not because she’s ignorant but because kids at that age are notorious for not thinking things through.

See, children are learning. The reason we don’t allow elementary school kids to vote, drive cars, and buy guns is that their brain is still developing. In a lot of ways, they’re little sociopaths walking around in cute, adorable little packages. They do things all the time they don’t realize is really that big of a deal.

Lord knows, I screwed up plenty when I was in that age category.

Now, the child broke the rules and needs to be punished. That’s how they learn what not to do in the first place, so no one is disputing that fact.

Yet arresting the child and treating him like a criminal when he likely didn’t even process what he was doing was wrong wouldn’t accomplish anything. Plus, really, the kid could well be damaged into believing he’s a bad kid and there’s no point in trying to behave. I’ve seen it happen, so it’s definitely a thing.

Deciding to deal with it without the courts makes perfect sense, especially since despite the fear that clearly had to be felt by all involved, no one was actually injured.

Admittedly, that would likely have changed my opinion on this to some degree. As it stands, though, it was scary, but the kid can learn from this. The important thing is to make sure he learned that he made a mistake, not that he’s a criminal for doing something he probably didn’t even think about being that big of a deal.