Madisyn Baldwin, age 17. Justin Shilling, age 17. Tate Myre, age 16. Hana St. Juliana, age 14.
These are the names and ages of the victims in the Oxford High School tragedy. These students should be remembered as individuals, not just as statistics of continued gun violence. They had lives, families and friends, and they will be mourned.
Nov. 30 saw the deadliest U.S. school shooting since 2018. The community of Oxford Township, Michigan is mourning the loss of four students. Six students and a teacher also suffered non-fatal injuries during the shooting and are currently seeking treatment.
The school released a statement posted on their website stating, “[a]s we grapple with the horrific tragedy in our school community, we grieve the students who lost their lives and we ache for all those who have been injured and impacted.”
The trauma from this tragic event has affected students all across the country. After spending a year learning remotely, students did not fear being gunned down in a classroom. This fear has always been persistent in the U.S., as students participate in lockdown drills in anticipation of an active shooter on their campus.
It is a depressing fact that students anticipate for a tragedy to occur in their schools. The classroom is a sacred place for learning and should not be filled with fear.
Time and time again, this fear becomes a reality.
The gunman, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbly, was charged as an adult and pleaded not guilty to the charges of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Crumbly was seen searching for ammunition on his cellphone and drew bloody images in his classes Nov. 29. He was then removed from his classroom and met with a guidance counselor. His parents were called and counseling was recommended for the assailant. The parents had 48 hours to comply or Child Protective Services would be contacted, to which they failed. The next day, he opened fire.
The district superintendent, Tim Throne, wrote in a letter to parents and staff in the Oxford school district to explain events that lead up to the tragedy.
“When the parents were asked to take their son home for the day, they flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work,” Throne wrote.
Crumbly is guilty, and so are his parents.
James and Jennifer Crumbly were taken into custody after a manhunt occurred. The parents of the assailant were also charged with involuntary manslaughter, to which they pleaded not guilty. A judge set their bond for $500,000 each after their plea.
The charge of the parents is unusual in school shooting cases, but this was the necessary move. The gun that was used in the shooting, a 9 mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semi automatic pistol, came from the family home and was purchased four days prior by the suspect’s father. The mother posted on Facebook that the gun was a Christmas present for Ethan.
According to the Associated Press, “[w]ith some very limited exceptions, minors in Michigan aren’t allowed to possess guns. But there is no Michigan law that requires owners to keep guns locked away from kids.”
All 50 states should have secure gun storage laws to prohibit the access of a firearm without parental permission for minors. However, only 15 states have CAP, child access prevention, laws that hold an adult liable for injury if a minor has access.
The Oxford tragedy could have been prevented if Michigan was on the list.
The parent’s attorney, Shannon Smith, said the gun used was locked. However, there was no clear answer on how Crumbly had access to it. Based on further details leading up to the tragedy, it seems that this notion of safety could be a facade.
Not only was a gun accessible for the assailant, but he showed signs of acting out. His parents ignored these signs and are responsible for enabling him. Children should not be able to have open access to firearms without proper adult supervision.
If you are pro-gun, you must be pro-safety.
Safety precaution laws are the answer to the gun violence epidemic. These precautions include storing all firearms unloaded, ammunition stored separate from the gun and locked gun safes in every home with firearms, especially with minors present. Parents should also educate their children on the possible dangers of using a firearm, as well as the appropriate times to use it.
The Oxford High School tragedy could have been avoided if the parents did not ignore the warning signs and enable their son to have his own firearm. Safety and responsibility could have saved the lives of Madisyn, Justin, Tate and Hana. Instead, they became another statistic of gun violence in America.
The parents and gunman have been held accountable for their actions, but now it’s time for state and federal legislators to step up. Thoughts and prayers are not enough.