The extremely tragic school shooting in Oxford, Michigan has brought the issues of gun safety and gun storage to the forefront once again. As the unfortunate story goes, it is alleged that 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire on his fellow students at Oxford High School on November 30th, 2021. It is alleged that he killed four students and injured seven others including a teacher. Crumbley is being charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder, and 12 counts of possessing a firearm while committing a felony.
The parents of the Oxford shooter are also being charged with crimes
Crumbley’s parents are being charged for alleged crimes arising out of their son’s alleged shooting causing death and injury to others at Oxford High School. Oakland County Prosecutor, Karen McDonald, authorized four counts of involuntary manslaughter against each of Crumbley’s mom and dad. Involuntary manslaughter is a felony under Michigan law, carrying a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. This means that each parent facing four charges of involuntary manslaughter would be looking at up to 60 years in prison if convicted of all four charges.
How are the charges against the parents being supported?
To get a conviction on the involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents, the prosecutor will be trying to prove that the parents knew that shooting would occur or acted in reckless disregard that the shooting was going to happen. The prosecutor will be using a number of allegations to support the involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents. Some of the allegations that will be used to support the involuntary manslaughter charges include
- That the parents knew their son was deeply troubled and depressed
- That the parents, while knowing their son was troubled, bought him a gun and took him to a gun range for practice
- That the parents did not secure the gun away from their troubled son
- That the parents were informed that their son brought a gun and ammunition to school
- That the parents were informed that their son drew a picture of someone being shot
- That the parents, after being informed that their son brought a gun to school and drew pictures of a bloody person being shot, were asked to take their son home from school
- That the parents refused to take their son home from school the day that the shooting occurred
What defenses might the Crumbley’s present in the case?
First and foremost, it’s expected that the defense will argue that the parents did not know and should not have known that their son would shoot anyone, regardless of the events leading up to the shooting. The defense will probably also argue that the parents had no legal duty under Michigan law to prevent the shooting. Also, the defense is likely to point out that the parents had no duty under Michigan law to secure the gun away from their son.
Does Michigan require gun owners to secure their firearms away from others?
The short answer to this question is NO, Michigan law does not require gun owners to secure their firearms. There, of course, are many laws regulating how one possess and uses guns. However, Michigan is one of a majority of states that does not have a law requiring safe storage of a gun. Only two states- Massachusetts and Oregon- have a law requiring guns be locked and safely stored when not being carried.
Although Michigan does not have a safe storage law on the books, it’s obviously prudent to do everything possible safely store your firearm, so as to avoid charges associated with others illegally using your guns. For a roundup on how to safely avoid your child from accessing your guns, visit this website.
For a thorough summary on Michigan gun laws, including the laws applicable to safe gun storage and self-defense laws, consider purchasing our book, Michigan Gun Law: Armed and Educated, on Amazon. And if you happen to be facing any kind of criminal charges involving your guns, the experienced Firearms and Gun Crimes Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm can help.