Police are slowly sifting through the horror of the Sparks Middle School shooting that claimed the lives of hero teacher Michael Landsberry and the 12-year-old shooter. Chilling 911 calls have surfaced featuring the panicked voices of young kids from the Nevada school. And now we may have two people forced to pay for this tragedy: the shooter's parents.
Of course, they're already paying an emotional price. Their son is dead, and what's more, he's responsible for a national tragedy. But criminal charges could be coming to make their nightmare that much more intense.
Police have identified the unidentified shooter's gun as a Ruger 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, and authorities say they believe the 12-year-old got that gun from his parents.
We could talk about responsible gun ownership until we're blue in the face here, and the fact remains that responsible gun owners lock up their guns so their kids can't get a hold of them. Period.
But how long can parents be expected to keep their kids on the straight and narrow? To know everything they might get up to?
This was not a 7-year-old. This was a seventh grader!
We've all known devious 12-year-olds smart enough to find a key and unlock a gun cabinet. If that's what happened, if this kid snuck that gun out of the house, is it fair to hold his parents responsible? Is it realistic to have expected them to check his backpack every morning like you would a kindergartner?
What if he were a bit older? Thirteen instead of 12? How about 16?
As parents, we are often looked at by non-parents and expected to "get control of that kid," but every parent has experienced that flash of fear that their "control" over their kid won't last forever, CAN'T last forever. We can start them on the right path and give gentle nudges back toward it, but in the end, we can only do so much.
A tragedy has happened at Sparks Middle School, and right now we are all looking for someone to blame. But blaming them for what their child did won't undo what has been done.
It would behoove us all to remember that this boy's parents are already suffering. They've already paid the ultimate price.
Should parents be held responsible for their kids' actions? At what age does it end?
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