This past Wednesday, a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez when Lopez allegedly pointed an assault rifle at him. Only it was not an assault rifle. It was a toy designed to look like an assault rifle.
ABC News quotes one angry neighbor, Abrey Martin, as saying, “I’m sure you can tell he’s a 13-year-old boy. He’s not some maniac.”
Indeed, where would a law enforcement official get the idea that a 13-year-old child could be a lunatic on a shooting spree with an honest-to-goodness firearm?
Maybe he heard the story of the 12-year-old boy who shot and killed a beloved teacher and military veteran and wounded two students in his Nevada middle school on Monday, just two days prior.
Maybe he heard the story of the 11-year-old student in Washington who was arrested earlier that Wednesday for bringing a handgun, 400 rounds of ammunition and multiple knives to school.
Martin was not the only community member incredulous that the sheriff actually believed that this child posed a real threat. Other news sources report similar comments from other neighbors.
Ironically, the sheriff in Sonoma County is, by definition, the type of well-trained, well-armed officer that many citizens and lawmakers are trying to place in schools to make campuses safe from students with guns.
Families often file lawsuits after a tragedy like this one. If the Lopez family chooses this path, I would like to ask them to consider foregoing the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department in favor of suing the truly culpable: the parents of the all-too-numerous young murderers, those parents who did not prevent their children from accessing their families’ firearms.
I tend to sidestep Second Amendment arguments. However, I suspect that parents controlling the firearms they own and keeping them out of the hands of their children is a version of gun control we all can support. With it, law enforcement officials can assume that a gun in a child’s hand is a toy. Without it, we have shooting kids and shooting kids.