By Carlos Gamino

A Chicago-area shooting in March 2022 may put a man behind bars, but not the person who pulled the trigger. The father of a 3-year-old boy who accidentally shot his mother is now facing a misdemeanor gun charge, according to Dolton Police Chief Robert Collins, Jr.

The boy allegedly picked up his father’s legally owned weapon while riding in the car with his parents. His father was driving and his mother was sitting in the passenger seat; the toddler was in his car seat in the back and found the gun. The toddler began to play with the firearm, which resulted in an accidental – and fatal – gunshot to his mother’s neck.

A detective who specializes in interviewing children said that the boy was the one who fired the gun. Police do not suspect any foul play on the father’s part. The state is charging the father with illegally transporting a firearm; in Illinois, you must have a concealed carry permit to transport a firearm unlocked in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

But should parents face other types of charges when their children get their hands on guns? Some experts think so – and it’s happening in other states. For example, James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of alleged school shooter Ethan Crumbley, were charged with involuntary manslaughter after a mass murder in an Oxford, Michigan high school.

According to a gun control advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety, unintentional shootings by children under the age of 18 killed 154 people and left 244 people wounded in 2021.

What Do You Think?

Do you think parents should be charged with crimes when their children get ahold of weapons? Do you feel differently if it’s an accident or negligence? I’d love to hear your thoughts on parental responsibility for kids being able to access guns at home, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino