Following the deadly school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, prosecutors are taking the highly unusual step of prosecuting the shooter's parents, noting that they bought the gun, left it where he could use it, and ignored blatant warning signs that he was planning to inflict harm. But on CNN Friday, chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin — himself a former federal prosecutor — warned that the case could be extremely difficult to win for the government.
"I mean, how tough is it to go against the parents?" asked anchor Anderson Cooper.
"It's very rare that we prosecute people for omissions," said Toobin. "You know, this sometimes comes up with bartenders when they serve, like, really drunk people and they go out and have a — you know, kill somebody with a car. Those cases are very hard — hard to make. And, you know, as I was listening — I mean, this story is horrible. What the parents did is terrible. But, you know, the criminal law is about acts. And like, when did they commit a crime? Did they commit a crime by failing to take the gun out of the backpack? Did they commit a crime by saying 'don't do it' to their son? I don't know."
"Well, isn't it a crime — I mean, it's a crime to buy a gun and — and not for yourself, to give it to a 15-year-old, isn't it?" asked Cooper.
"No, it's not," said Toobin. "I don't think it is. You know, Michigan is a state where teenagers hunt with their parents all the time ... and Michigan is a state that's very pro-gun in its laws and so there are not rules about, you know, you have to secure a gun. There are not rules about, you know, who can have access to guns."
"I mean, look. I'm as horrified by this as anyone," added Toobin. "But, you know, the — the legal case against the parents is not a certain one."
Jeffrey Toobin explains why prosecuting Michigan school shooter's parents will be difficult www.youtube.com