Scoot Blog: Parent arrested after child shoots self...It's about time!
A 5-year-old girl is dead after her mother left her home alone with a gun in the house. The child apparently climbed up in a closet and got the gun from a top shelf, where it was being kept temporarily for a friend. The mother, Laderida Smith, 28, is in jail facing child cruelty charges, and the NOPD says they will consult with the DA over whether a murder charge may be filed. WWL-TV reports the mother has been arrested 3 times since 2005 on charges that include theft and prostitution.
In recent months I have talked about several national stories about children getting guns and shooting a sibling, a friend or an adult. In my opinion, the parents should be held accountable in those situations. However, these situations are always met with pronounced sympathy and support for the parents, with many saying the parents had “suffered enough already” from the loss and should not be charged with a crime.
If suffering from a tragic loss or a horrific crime replaced criminal accountability and punishment, then many of our prisons would not be overcrowded. If a person is driving drunk and kills another person, does dealing with the grief and sorrow over the tragedy replace criminal prosecution? Do the regret and the loss of a spouse replace criminal charges in the case of a man who kills his wife in a moment of rage? Simply saying “I’m sorry” or even feeling/expressing deep sorrow does not taken the place of criminal prosecution in our society.
Recently, in a small town in Kentucky, a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister on the front porch of their family home. The mother stepped away for a few minutes when the 5-year-old went inside to get his .22 rifle and came out and shot his young sister to death. The rifle was a birthday gift to the son and was left in a corner of the house. Is the mother criminally responsible? I think so, but there were those who argued that the loss of her young daughter was “punishment enough.”
The family in Tennessee is a white family that lives in the country – the New Orleans mother who was arrested is a black female with an arrest record, but are both parents not guilty of the same crime?
It is also important to consider why these children are so quick to grab guns and seem to know what to do with them. I suggest that these children have seen their parents and adults in the household handle guns with casual frequency and that leads to the curiosity of children. Children copy their parent’s behavior.
We know that justice is not blind – but we need to bring that reality to the attention of America when we see cases that are obvious. As individuals, we are quick to harshly judge those who are different and innately support those with whom we share something. Our courts have reflected that and have not always been fair. It is in our best interest as Americans for justice to be blind. We never know when any of us will find ourselves as a minority in our system of justice.
To the New Orleans mother arrested yesterday after her child got a gun that was left at home and shot herself – I say ‘it’s about time!’ But it’s also about time to arrest ALL parents who are guilty of negligent behavior with guns and negligent behavior includes allowing children access to a gun. Judgment should cross racial and socio-economic boundaries – we owe that to our kids!