I've been overwhelmed this week with the volume of angry phone calls and e-mails I've received about my story on the tragic pellet gun killing of 13-year-old Cody Shuya.
My story - which ran in Tuesday's Free Press - focused largely on an exclusive interview with the parents of the 17-year-old now charged with criminal negligence causing death. (Click HERE
to read)To recap, the two teens are accused of breaking into an inner-city garage and stealing a pellet gun they found laying around.
Moments later, the gun accidentally went off and Shuya was shot in the eye, the pellet going straight into his brain. The older teen made sure 911 had been called, then took off.He lived with the secret of what had happened for several days, only coming forward with the truth after attending his friend's funeral.The case, while tragic, is not what has people upset.It's the suggestion from the accused's parents that the owner of the stolen pellet gun should, at the very least, share in the blame for what happened and possibly face criminal charges. (Read story HERE
)They say the owner should know better then to leave a potentially lethal weapon laying around in a garage in a high-crime area. They say break-ins are frequent, and as such property owners must take extra care - presumably from people like their own son.This has the collective blood pressure of many readers rising. People are stunned that the parents of this accused criminal would actually suggest the victim of a break-in should be held accountable.Let's make one thing perfectly clear. My story should not be confused with my own personal opinion. It was a news story, not an editorial. Many people have accused me of suggesting the gun owner should be charged. I certainly haven't, nor would I.A few weeks ago, I wrote a story on a western Manitoba man who is charged with careless storage of a firearm. The facts are quite tragic. He legally owned several long guns but apparently didn't have trigger locks on at least one of them. (Click HERE
to read)His 24-year-old son, following a fight with his ex-girlfriend, comes into the house one night when dad is away. The young man grabs the gun, points it as his head and pulls the trigger. He somehow survives the suicide bid. Police are called, begin an investigation and ultimately charged the father with the gun offence.I didn't get a single e-mail on that story from anyone suggesting the police were out of line to charge the father. That actually surprised me, given that I figured many people would see it as a case of kicking a man when he's down.But I wonder - if justice officials are going to charge the grieving father in that case, should the pellet gun owner face similar consequences?One major difference, of course, is the lack of regulations surrounding pellet guns.Perhaps a better comparison is auto theft.There have been suggestions in the past that people who fail to take proper care in protecting their cars from thieves should face charges if the vehicle is stolen and later used in a crime.So where do you stand? Should we all be held accountable if our action - or inaction - indirectly leads to a crime. Or is this just an absurd example of trying to deflect blame away from criminals who are already getting the kid glove treatment by the courts.Post your thoughts below. You can also visit my website at www.mikeoncrime.com
to vote on our latest Jury Poll question.