Saturday, November 22nd, the Cleveland, Ohio police dispatcher received a call from a citizen in an outdoor recreational park saying a juvenile was waving around what appeared to be a handgun. Two police officers were dispatched to the scene. Within seconds of their arrival, a 12-year-old boy was shot by one of the officers because the boy was holding a handgun and failed to obey a command from one of the officers to raise his hands. The boy died from the gunshot wounds the following day.
So, who’s at fault here? A lot of people are saying the officer who fired the shots is responsible. I think not. The officer used the training he had been given on how to respond to the presence of a deadly threat.
So, for the purpose of discussion, let’s assume you agree with me. Who then is responsible? The 12-year-old boy? No, not in any manner. He was 12 years old, for cryin’ out loud! What do you expect from a child that age? Children fantasize and act out those fantasies by playing.
Seems we’ve eliminated all the parties in this scenario. No, we have not. The parents of that young man are responsible for his death. Do what? That’s exactly right, the parents. The parents didn’t shoot him, but they might as well have.
Police are trained to “Stop the threat”. That’s a phrase that is hammered into the heads of people who go through self-defense training. I’ve heard it countless times myself. The definition of “Stop the threat” means to shoot to center mass with the intent to kill. I won’t apologize for being verbally graphic or blunt. It is what it is.
Parents, it is your responsibility to teach safe gun handling to your children, be it a plastic Air Soft pistol, a cap gun or a BB gun. Your children should be told they should NEVER point a firearm (or what appears to be) at anyone. Your children should also be brought to understand they should ALWAYS do as a policeman tells them, whether they agree with the command or not. These are basic fundamentals of being a good and law-abiding citizen.
There are exceptions to every rule. Some children go awry, regardless of how hard their parents try to teach them. However, if you DON’T teach your child right from wrong and your child is killed by a policeman or law-abiding citizen responding within the right to use deadly force in self-defense, I have no pity for your loss. YOU failed in your duty and your child’s death is on you, no one else.
So, you think I’m being blunt, callous and hard? That is exactly my intent. There are situations where diplomacy is applicable. I have no intention of being diplomatic when I tell you your child’s safety is your responsibility.
If you don’t know what to teach your child about safe gun handling, contact me. I’ll be happy to help. I’d like to see your child become a law-abiding and upstanding citizen. But, if your child is shot and killed because you failed to do your job as a responsible parent, you have no one to blame but yourself.