Prison time for Crumbleys completely appropriate

Although appeals are coming, a criminal case with wide-ranging implications wrapped up downstate last week when a judge sentenced the parents of a school shooter to at least 10 years in prison for failing to take steps that could have prevented a “runaway train” — the killing of four students in 2021.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents convicted in a U.S. mass school shooting. They were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors presented evidence of an unsecured gun at home and indifference toward the teen’s mental health.

The Associated Press reported their son, Ethan Crumbley, drew dark images of a gun, a bullet and a wounded man on a math assignment, accompanied by despondent phrases.

Staff at Oxford High School did not demand that he go home during a brief meeting early on Nov. 30, the day of the shooting, but were surprised when the Crumbleys didn’t volunteer it.

Later that day, the 15-year-old pulled the handgun from his backpack and began killing. Ethan, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and other crimes.

A lot of very bright legal types have taken to the airwaves and editorial pages nationwide, opposing this case from the start.

The parents were not directly involved in the shooting and therefore should not have been charged, many said.

What kind of precedent will this set, they asked?

While is is true on its face that Jennifer and James Crumbley didn’t pull the trigger in the killings, also true is the fact that they bought a kid who was slowly melting down in front of everyone’s eyes a firearm and then failed to secure it in the family’s home.

This was a complicated case that predictably included much finger pointing after the gun smoke cleared. We followed it via AP’s usual good coverage and believe the verdicts reached and sentences handed down were completely appropriate.

This was much more than just poor parenting. It was an outsight dereliction of duty as a thinking member of society. The price that was paid was horrendous: four killed and seven wounded.

This case should sound a clarion call to the people who have guns lying around their homes unsecured — and that may be more people than anyone knows: If that firearm gets used in some sort of a shooting and if it can be proven it wasn’t secured consistent with law, someone might end up cooling their heels in the state penitentiary.

We believe that, too, would be appropriate.


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