As reported, A 16 year old male was ordered held Monday on involuntary manslaughter and weapons charges in the unintentional death of his friend, 16 year old Arthur Tyler, who was fatally shot in Chicago’s South Side Englewood neighborhood around 2:30am on Sunday. The teenager who is charged allegedly told police he unintentionally shot Tyler as they were playing with a shotgun he believed was unloaded. My thoughts on this entirely preventable shooting are below:
First, I’ll say that it is sad to read about one teenager losing their life, and another facing felony charges in the death of a friend. These two young men could have gone far in life, now it is certain that one of them won’t, and likely that the other won’t either.
It is all the more disconcerting because this shooting was entirely preventable. Had the parents of these teenagers taught them the basics of gun safety, they would have know to never ever “play” by point a gun at someone. Had the parents better supervised their children, they would not have been “playing” with a loaded shotgun at 2:30am. Had the gun owner stored their gun properly, then these teenagers wouldn’t have gotten access to the firearm in the first place. Had either of these teenagers exercised some common sense, one of them would not be dead right now. Instead, multiple adults and teenagers failed to act responsibly, and now one person is dead and another’s life is ruined.
The calls are already going out for more gun control laws to “protect the children”, despite the fact that multiple gun laws were apparently broken here. First, it is a felony for an unsupervised 16 year old to possess a shotgun in Illinois. It is also a felony for anyone, including a 16 year old, to possess a firearm without a FOID card. Furthermore, it is a felony to point a gun (even one believed to be unloaded) at someone except in self defense. Next, it is a misdemeanor to have an unregistered shotgun in Chicago. It is also a misdemeanor to fire a gun within Chicago’s city limits as was done here (and it could be a felony under some conditions). It is also a crime in IL to store guns in a negligent manner that allows children to gain access to them and commit a crime. Finally, it is a crime to shoot someone except in self defense. In short, there were already multiple felony and misdemeanor laws that were apparently broken here, yet those laws did not stop one teenager from shooting another – and heaping on more laws won’t be any more effective. Nor would it be just.
Others incorrectly suggest that this tragedy means we need to vilify guns and keep children ignorant about them – nothing could be further from the truth. Making guns taboo will only lead to more children being fascinated by them, and then secretly handing them in a dangerous manner. What is needed is gun education, so that children can learn to be safe with guns now, and be able to defend themselves against criminals once they grow up.