6/3/2013 12:47:00 PM Editorial
Prison for gun accident makes no sense
A father in Minneapolis was found guilty this past week of manslaughter for the death of his two-year-old son, who was killed by a bullet from a gun fired by his four-year-old son. He now faces the possibility of up to ten years in prison. It seems like a waste of both a life and of state resources.
Kao Xiong and his wife were reportedly in the kitchen fixing a meal while their sons were playing in an upstairs bedroom. The boys found a handgun hidden in a bed, and the four-year-old fired it, striking his two-year-old brother in the abdomen and killing him. The father was found guilty of manslaughter for causing the death by not properly securing his firearms.
The father claims to be an avid hunter. In addition to the gun that killed the boy, seven other firearms were found in the home, including three more handguns and four rifles. It is not clear whether any of the weapons were secured from children.
The handguns were reportedly placed at locations in the house to allow them to be used for self defense.
As is too often the case, these guns ended up being more of a danger than a defense for the family who owned them.
I am a strong believer in the need for effective laws to prevent needless firearm deaths, although writing such laws requires more information than we currently have available due to excessive pandering to the gun lobbyists by our elected representatives, but I do not see that laws supporting prosecutions such as is happening with Kao Xiong are effective.
I also do not see that such laws make any sense.
Kao Xiong demonstrated abject stupidity in the way he stored firearms, enough stupidity that he should be denied the right to own or use firearms in the future. Laws that strip anyone who demonstrates such total incompetence in exercising their Second Amendment right of that Second Amendment right could be effective in preventing firearm deaths.
As a convicted felon, Kao Xiong will lose his right to bear arms, but the law responsible for that loss of rights also promises to send him to prison, probably for less than ten years but to prison nonetheless.
There was no criminal intent in this tragic situation.
Placing Kao Xionag in prison will not be nearly the disincentive to careless storage of firearms that striping him of his right to own or use firearms will have. Those who own firearms are more afraid of losing their right to own them than they are of other punishments.
Placing Kao Xiong in prison will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for his care and for additional care for his family. Kao Xiong is not a danger to society. As a productive, employed father, he would be an asset to society by taking care of the family he has left.
Kao Xiong is now a felon. We can as a society take his guns and his right to own or use guns, and we should do that.
Then we should send him home to take care of his family. It may make sense to place him under some form of court supervision for a period of time. It may make sense to give him a community service sentence compelling him to talk to gun owners about his experience.