When a 6-year-old is shot by a 4-year-old, what do you do? Do you haul the 4-year-old off to jail? Do you just let it slide, write it off as a terrible accident? Or do you try to find some middle ground? That's what cops in New Jersey are trying to do right now. They've arrested the father of the 4-year-old who shot neighbor and buddy Brandon Holt last month.
But no one is charging Anthony Senatore with Brandon's death.
The 33-year-old, who allegedly owned the gun used by his 4-year-old son, instead faces six counts of endangering the welfare of children and a disorderly person's offense for enabling access by minors to a loaded firearm.
Technically that's what was done here. Senatore didn't pull the trigger on the gun that killed little Brandon. But only technically.
Cops say his 4-year-old son -- who hasn't been named because of his age -- was playing with Holt in the yard on April 8. He went inside and came back with a loaded .22-caliber rifle he'd allegedly found in his dad's bedroom. When police arrived, they say they also found four more firearms in the bedroom, all easily accessible to Senatore's three kids.
Brandon Holt died.
And all that we get are some charges for endangering the welfare of children?
What about manslaughter?
What about some justice for this little boy?
The disregard for safety alleged in this case makes a deep-seated fear in my stomach flare up.
I live in the country where guns are a part of life. I've had long discussions with my child about proper use of guns and safety.
But when she goes to another child's house, what happens is out of my control. If another parent is careless with their guns, the risk to my child is great.
My fear isn't of guns but of irresponsible gun owners.
According to the statistics, half of gun-owning households do not lock up their guns. That includes 40 percent of households with kids under age 18.
With statistics like that, it's no wonder guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease, and 15 times more than infection (this according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine in case you're wondering).
Could a dad like Anthony Senatore foresee the tragedy that occurred on April 8? I don't see why he didn't.
As the saying so popular with gun proponents goes, "guns don't kill people, people kill people." It's true. People kill people ... when they have access to a gun that they can use to do so. Put a loaded gun where a child can easily access it, and what do you think will happen? Four-year-olds simply do not have the capacity to recognize the consequences of their actions. That's why we don't leave them alone with a hot pot on the stove ... never mind a loaded .22.
He may not have shot this boy, but when you consider the facts, it certainly sounds like this dad was responsible.
So why isn't he being charged with the child's death?
Do you think the prosecution is going far enough in this case? Could this father have foreseen this tragedy?
Image via AdamSelwood/Flickr