Today, Ethan Crumbley’s parents have each been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The charges stem from the fact that his father, James, purchased the 9mm with Ethan present. Ethan posted on social media that the gun was his. His mother, Jennifer, posted that he “was testing his new Christmas present.” When his teacher reported Ethan searching online for ammunition at school, Jennifer sent her son a text reading “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” The morning of the shooting, Ethan’s teacher saw him writing a note so alarming to her she immediately informed the school and took a picture. Complete with victims, blood, and statements like “the thoughts won’t stop” and “blood everywhere” and “the world is dead,” the note so disturbed school administrators that the parents were instructed to get their child to therapy within 48 hours or he would not be allowed back in school. The parents refused to take Ethan out of school so he was allowed to remain. The murder weapon, which James had stored unlocked in a drawer along with its ammunition, was already in Ethan’s backpack. The parents did not question Ethan or check at home to make sure the gun was still there. When the news of an active shooter became public, Jennifer texted “Ethan, don’t do it” to her son. It was, of course, much too late for her to take her parental responsibilities seriously.
Ethan’s father bought him a “toy” for Christmas that he used almost immediately to kill. It just so happens that toy was capable of murdering four people and wounding another 7 in minutes. Nikolas Cruz bought several similar toys before killing 17 people. Nancy Lanza owned similar toys that her son Adam used to murder 26 people, including 20 children aged 7 and under. What my family treated as dangerous tools are purchased by people with no more care for their lethality than they’d show a new television.
Ethan Crumbley had no valid use for a 9mm pistol, kept unsecured in his father’s sock drawer. He couldn’t hunt with it. He had no reason to fear for his safety. He wasn’t in law enforcement or private security. He is a 15-year-old kid with clear emotional problems whose parents bought him a lethal weapon with the same level of concern I might show my son’s new bicycle. Even when presented with evidence of his state of mind, James and Jennifer Crumbley deliberately chose to do everything wrong. They refused to engage with the school. They refused to rein in their little monster. Jennifer literally laughed off her son’s search for the ammunition he used to kill his schoolmates. James left his son’s gun unlocked, with ammunition, and never bothered to so much as check their son’s backpack before they left him at school despite the administration’s clear misgivings. They left him to kill, and only when he began killing did they even bother to try covering their tracks. Jennifer texted him “don’t do it” after she knew he had. James contacted 911 to say “my son’s gun is missing” after leaving him in school with it. Those are not the actions of parents concerned for their child’s mental state or actions; those are the actions of two people desperate to cover their tracks.
I hope Ethan dies in prison. I hope James and Jennifer do every moment of time allowed and are sued into irreparable poverty by the parents of every child at that school who was killed, injured, or simply terrified. Even now we are losing the argument on sane gun control. Americans love their toys whether it’s dangerous vehicles, fireworks, or firearms. Americans would rather burn down entire forests than simply tell people the sex of their unborn child. The casual disregard of James and Jennifer for the safety of their child and everyone around him is not unusual. If it were, children wouldn’t unintentionally shoot hundreds of people a year. If it were, over 300 people in the US wouldn’t be injured by firearms every single day. If it were, more than 14,000 Americans wouldn’t die from gun violence every year. Gun enthusiasts will tell you these numbers are negligible when compared to the number of firearms in the US. Anyone with a lick of empathy will tell you even 4 dead schoolchildren are 4 too many.
I would love for shooting to be fun again. I would love to teach my kids to enjoy it the same way I did, innocent of any thoughts about what those guns might do in the wrong hands. But reality took that illusion from me years ago, and it won’t come back no matter how hard I wish. This is our reality, so long as people like Ethan Crumbley, and enablers like his parents and GOP legislators continue to put their “toys” before people.
Update: In a further refusal of their responsibilities, the Crumbleys have yet to turn themselves in for arraignment, and are considered fugitives.
Header Image Source: Twitter