Why Gun Owners Should Worry About Mass Shooting 'Accountability'

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There's generally only one person responsible for a mass shooting and that's the jackwagon who carries out mass murder. Sometimes, we can note law enforcement failures as playing a role, as we saw in Lewiston, or potentially making the situation worse like in Parkland and Uvalde, but at the end of the day, the person responsible is the tool pulling the trigger.


But in Michigan, we recently saw two people--parents of the killer--stand trial and be convicted for their role. They didn't plan it. They didn't take part in it. Yet they were still found accountable by a jury.

This leads into this from CNN:

The search for accountability in the unending era of American mass shootings is turning to novel legal tactics against the parents who raise shooters, the gun manufacturers that appeal to them and the social media platforms where they might learn radical behavior.


“We’re living in a new world now, and that new world is a prosecutor saying, ‘If we’re not going to have legislation, if we’re not going to have significant protections, we’re going to take it upon ourselves to use the law in a way that gets accountability to everyone and anyone who could have potentially been involved,’” CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson told CNN’s Erin Burnett last week.

Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor who oversaw the Crumbley parent prosecutions, told CNN’s Jean Casarez she did not know when she brought the charges that the case would be the first of its kind, but she was always intent on finding a way to prosecute the parents.

“I said, we have to find that – but I know it exists, because I know that our set of laws are based on what’s right and wrong. And I know that we have a duty to other children and other people to protect them,” McDonald said.

The facts were particularly bad for the parents in this case, according to Stephen Gutowski, a CNN analyst and founder of The Reload, a website the covers the gun rights and safety debate.

“I think that the success of it by itself is going to encourage more prosecutors to try this,” Gutowski told me by phone. He also pointed me to one argument complicating the prosecutions in this case: that Ethan Crumbley faced charges as an adult, but his parents faced charges as parents. But that distinction may not matter to many people who want justice for the four killed students.


This is troubling to me for a number of reasons.

Yes, the Crumbleys weren't exactly showing themselves to be the most responsible parents in the world, but the concerns I have are less about them--I have plenty of issues with their prosecution as it is--but where this might go from here.

See, this is essentially about not keeping guns away from people who eventually become mass murderers.

Where do we draw the line?

The Crumbleys bought the gun for the kid, did nothing to store it, and ignored his mental state. They were essentially negligent in so many ways, which is what got them prosecuted and convicted for involuntary manslaughter. I don't agree with it, but there was definitely negligence here.

But we also know how a case like this might be used to justify another prosecution down the road where the case for negligence isn't so strong.

What about the guy with a gun safe key on his key ring? He leaves it in the same place every day when he comes home from work--maybe a bowl on a table or a hook by the door--just like so many of us do. Is he negligent when his kid steals the key, gets a gun, and does something awful?

Should they be prosecuted because they didn't keep the key on their person at all times? Would a prosecutor try to make the case that they should have had a combination lock despite knowing they had a crappy memory?

I have legitimate concerns about this hunt for accountability that tries to blame others for the sins of one.

It's no different than suing gun manufacturers for what a mass murderer does despite there being no evidence that the killer even was familiar with their marketing materials.


This search for supposed accountability is really just a distraction, a way to look like you're doing something without having to do the hard work of figuring out what actually leads someone to do something like this. That's difficult and takes time, which prosecutors and politicians don't really have if they wan to look like they're making a stand.

But a lot of good people are going to get screwed over by this kind of thing, and they won't thank these people for messing up their lives without actually doing anything to address the issue of mass killings.

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