The Washington Post editorial board columns have slowed as former President Donald Trump left the White House. But in the wake of the Oxford, Michigan mass shooting, the group announced that it agreed with the decision to prosecute parents of underage mass shooters who they gave illegal access to guns.
Michigan prosecutor Karen McDonald announced criminal charges against the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old who killed four students and injured several others at his high school on Nov. 30.
The Post wants this to be the new standard. Given Kyle Rittenhouse was also underage when he shot four people, killing three of them. He was just 17 and his friend purchased an AR-15 that he was too young to have. He then got the gun from his friend and drove across state lines, carrying the gun without a license to do so and without being the mandated age. While Rittenhouse was found not guilty, those are all charges that prosecutors in the state could charge Rittenhouse's mother and friend.
McDonald detailed that the evidence walks through the ways in which Crumbley was enabled by his parents, including the gun being purchased for him by his father and warning signs from the school that Crumbley wanted to kill other students.
"The morning of the shooting, the suspect’s parents were summoned to the school after a teacher found a disturbing note he had drawn — images of a gun, a laughing emoji and the words 'Blood everywhere' and 'The thoughts won’t stop. Help me," The Post recounted. "The school told the parents the boy needed counseling."
His parents didn't want him removed from school. They also didn't check if he had the gun or even inform the school that they'd just bought him one. The Post also blames the school for allowing Crumbley back into class after the incident and for not searching his possessions.
The board also cited a 2018 report that showed 84 of the 105 gunmen got their weapons from home, relatives or friends. McDonald wants to see the state mandate weapons be secured in a safe location. More than half of the school shootings since 1999 wouldn't have happened because the children wouldn't have had access to a weapon, the analysis said.
Adults are almost never held accountable for the behavior of their children, however. The Post wants to see this change.
"The Supreme Court has deemed the right to own firearms a sacrosanct personal freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. The inevitable result is a society saturated with guns, in which tragedies — suicides, accidents and, yes, rampages — will occur, even when lawful gun owners try to store their weapons safely," the board wrote. "But these horrors do not have to happen as often as they do. It should not be so rare for prosecutors to charge parents like the Crumbleys with crimes such as involuntary manslaughter, and states should tighten their laws to make it clear: When gun owners behave recklessly, there should be no doubt that they will face criminal punishment."