Wait a minute, what? A four-year-old not only gets ahold of a gun but KNOWS HOW to load it, and police are seriously considering him as the criminal here?
Police in Jackson County, Ohio are also considering charges against Nathan Beavers, the 18-year-old who was shot – and who allegedly stepped on the boy’s toes – for child endangerment. Now, would that be for the toe-smashing or for allowing a four-year-old to get hold of a gun? The story, as reported by WSAZ, doesn’t say (only stating that the sheriff “isn’t sure” if he will pursue charges for either).
Beavers, by the way, is recovering at the hospital. The shot, by a twenty-gauge shotgun, went into his arm.
We’ve seen the age of criminals dropping in our country. No one needs to remind me of the sad, sad story of the eight-year-old currently facing charges for the double homicide that included his father and his father’s friend. But there has to be some age limit, even on violent crimes (and I would say this child was violent – an adult in the same situation would likely face a violent felony).
Can a four-year-old truly know right from wrong? Does he have the capacity to understand the ramifications of loading a gun and pulling the trigger?
I’m still shocked by the fact that this child, at four years old, could already load a shell into a shotgun. I am aware that there is a very different culture surrounding gun ownership in rural areas (according to Ohio state statistics, just one percent of the county’s land is devoted to residential/industrial/commercial real estate), and children are often more often to be exposed to guns – and at younger ages. What country kids (myself included) learn about guns comes as much from osmosis as it does actual hands-on instruction. The guns are omnipresent in many rural communities.
So, perhaps, this four-year-old wasn’t taught how to load a shotgun. Maybe he’s a smart little kid who figured it out on his own. That still doesn’t tell me why a gun, and a shell, were accessible by a four-year-old.
As the sheriff says he has’t decided, I’m hoping he’ll come to his senses . . . and make sure he protects this child’s innocence.