A gun is either on your hip or in a safe. Period. That said, safes do not make children safe from the possibility of a deadly negligent discharge (ND). Rug rats are clever little bastards (they’re your children after all). They have all the time in the world. If they want to breach your security arrangements, they will. A safe is only one layer of defense. Vigilance is another. Education is last but by no means least. You must teach your children what guns can do. How to handle firearms safely. You must replace curiosity with respect. Is a four-year-old too young to learn about gun safety? In this case, reported by pal-item.com, we’ll never know . . .
Last week, Aiden and twin brother Mason were playing in the basement when they found a loaded, .40-caliber semi-automatic Glock handgun in the “office” area where their father, Deputy Greg Mehlbauer, kept his uniforms and other law enforcement equipment.
The boys were handling the gun when it discharged, striking Aiden in the abdomen, Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze said.
Aiden’s mother, Shavonne, was upstairs helping her 6-year-old daughter with her homework and Greg Mehlbauer was on duty when the shooting occurred. Aiden died about 2 hours later at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
My deepest condolences to the Mehlbauer family. I pray that they can find enough healing to move forward, to find some measure of joy and peace in the rest of their journey through life.
The Mehlbauers must somehow come to terms with the fact that this tragedy was preventable. That the mistakes that led to the horror can’t be undone. But Aiden’s death can have meaning to wider society. It can serve as a warning to other gun owners to make sure they store their guns responsibly.
And that is what Franklin County Prosecutor Mel Wilhelm should have focused on. His primary responsibility is to the people of Franklin County, not any one person. The people were not well-served.
Franklin County Prosecutor Mel Wilhelm announced Tuesday through the Indiana State Police that his office would not seek charges in the Feb. 16 accidental shooting death of Aiden Mehlbauer.
Indiana prosecutors often recuse themselves from cases involving local police officers with whom they work on a regular basis, but Wilhelm told the state police the circumstances surrounding the incident did not meet the elements of a crime under Indiana code.
Wilhelm said he had carefully reviewed the state police reports and spoken at length with investigators concerning their findings in the case.
I’m not exactly sure how Wilhelm reads Indiana firearms law, but the relevant bit seems pretty clear to me:
Dangerous control of a firearm
Sec. 6. An adult who knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly provides a firearm to a child for any purpose other than those described in section 1 of this chapter, with or without remuneration, commits dangerous control of a firearm, a Class C felony. However, the offense is a Class B felony if the adult has a prior conviction under this section.
I know Wilhelm wasn’t the gun owner per se. But Mehlbauer represents the government, which is responsible for putting a gun in his possession. And making sure that the men and women who handle a County-owned weapon do so safely.
I’m NOT saying that Deputy Greg Mehlbauer should serve time or pay a fine for this offense. But he should be charged, as a signal to other gun owners that the state does not tolerate irresponsible gun storage, especially where children are concerned.
Wilhelm’s decision not to press charges also leaves Mehlbauer free to own and carry firearms. Franklin County might remove his gun. But they might not. If a gun owner’s unlawful or reckless behavior leads to the death of an innocent person, they should be stripped of their right to own a gun.