“Emma Redlinger [above], a freshman at Vinton-Shellsburg High School, was shot in the head inside the West Fourth Street home,” Iowa’s thegazette.com reports. “She died four days later, on Feb. 28, 2015, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A statement from Vinton, Iowa police didn’t provide details of how the incident unfolded . . .
[F]ederal documents show that Robyn Merchant, 52, purchased and gave to her son, Dillon Winterroth, 16 at the time, a Walther HK MP5 .22LR semi-automatic rifle the day before Emma was shot.
Was Robyn Merchant irresponsible for buying her 16-year-old son, Dillon Winterroth, a rifle? Ipso facto. Mr. Winterroth handed his firearm to a friend, 17-year-old William Hines, who violated the four gun safety rules, resulting in death. It’s a bit convoluted, but the facts of the matter prove that Ms. Merchant’s decision to arm her son was a fatal mistake.
Especially since Mr. Winterroth was an inveterate pot smoker; he’d been regularly toking-up since the age of 14. According to police reports, Mr. Winterroth and his bud buds were high at the time of the negligent discharge. The cops found seven ounces of herb in his room and related drug paraphernalia
In a police interview, Ms. Merchant admitted knowledge of her son’s marijuana habit. Federal prosecutors have charged Ms. Merchant with a single count of providing a firearm to a prohibited person. The grand jury’s decision is expected any day now.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that tens of millions of teenagers who have access to firearms handle and use them responsibly. Yes, but — until they’re adults, their parents/guardians are, at the very least, morally responsible for their safety and, by extension, the safety of those with whom they interact while armed.
Anyone who allows a minor access to a firearm should carefully judge that minor’s ability to be safe and responsible with a firearm. Have they been trained in the four rules? Have they demonstrated safe gun handling? Do they have any anger issues/mental health problems?
Failure to make this assessment — and continue to monitor their child’s gun safety habits and general mental health — is entirely irresponsible. Whether it’s a crime is another matter. Our condolences to Mr. Redlinger’s family.