Kids and Guns: 8-Year-Old Accused of Killing Grandmother

Kids and Guns: 8-Year-Old Accused of Intentionally Killing Grandmother - BabbleJust in case the five stories I covered last week involving kids and guns weren’t enough to convince you that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, here’s another one, also from last week.

An eight-year-old boy, whose identity is not being released, is accused of shooting his 87-year-old grandmother in the back of the head, killing her. Marie Smothers was caring for the boy in her home in Slaughter, Louisiana, when the incident occurred, says CNN.

Local police are saying that it was an accident, and that the boy thought the gun was a toy.

“He thought it was a toy gun, a play gun,” East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla told CNN. “He’s distraught. It’s really taken a toll on him. He looks visibly shaken.”

“It’s not a crime if he’s under 10 years old,” District Attorney D’Aquilla said. “We’re still trying to figure out how to help this juvenile and his parents.”

The boy and his family will be receiving counseling, the D.A. said, and will be entering a state program called Families in Need of Services.

According to a statement from local police, the boy was playing the video game Grand Theft Auto IV just prior to shooting his grandmother.

“Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game, ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,’ a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred,” the statement said, according to NBC News.

In fact, Grand Theft Auto games do not award points for killing people — they give you money for killing people. This minor detail doesn’t change the fact this is an extremely violent game with an ESRB rating of “M for Mature” by ESRB, meaning that the game is “suitable for ages 17 and up.” Grand Theft Auto IV earned the M rating for “Intense Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Partial Nudity, Use of Drugs and Alcohol,” according to ESRB’s website.

But while Grand Theft Auto IV is wildly inappropriate for an 8-year-old, it isn’t to blame for the shooting death of Marie Smothers.

According to District Attorney D’Aquilla, the boy found the .38 caliber handgun in “in a pouch or a purse, where he could obviously pick it up.”

If the weapon had been locked up, Ms. Smothers would not be dead.

Families who own guns and keep them in the home have a massive responsibility to keep that weapon locked up. They also have a responsibility to teach their children not to touch the gun.

In total last week, we had six stories of kids and guns — none of which will be promoted in the National Rifle Association’s “Armed Citizen” series:

  • A shooting in an elementary school (the alleged gunman is 20, but 800 children had to be evacuated)
  • A 3-year-old who shot and killed himself after finding an unlocked gun
  • A 5-year-old who found an unlocked gun and took it to school, where it discharged in his backpack
  • An 8-year-old who shot and killed his grandmother after finding an unlocked gun
  • A 16-year-old girl who had a gun in her purse at school the day after a fight involving 20 students
  • A trio of teens — ages 15, 16, and 17 — who shot and killed a 22-year-old college student because they had nothing else to do

Unlocked guns and unsupervised kids. Where is the parental responsibility in all this? The ones being labeled “accidents” are accidents in the sense that the kids didn’t mean to do this. They’re not accidents in the sense that their parents failed to ensure that the guns in their homes were locked up.

I know there are a lot of gun owners who oppose “gun control,” but obviously there are also a lot of gun owners who are not keeping very good control of their guns.  The 8-year-old boy thought the gun was a toy. He will likely be traumatized for the rest of his life by his actions, and it’s not his fault. No one locked the gun. No one told him, “This is a gun, and it can kill people. You should never, ever, ever touch it.”

In the case of the Michigan 3-year-old who shot and killed himself, charges will be filed against the household member who left the gun unlocked. However, in the case of the Tennessee 5-year-old who brought a gun to school, where it went off in his backpack, no charges are being filed against his mother, who left the gun unlocked in a closet. No one was hurt, but any number of children were put in harm’s way, including the kindergartner who had the gun. How is the mother not being charged with anything?

It’s your Constitutional right to bear arms? Fine. It’s also your goddamn responsibility to secure those arms, and I believe that if you fail to do so, you should be held criminally responsible.

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

Read more from Joslyn on Babble and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow Joslyn on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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