In our world, where personal security is valuable, owning and knowing how to use a gun has become a priority for many individuals. The debatable question that remains, how safe is our society in the presence of all types of guns (either legal or illegal) including guns for recreational purposes, such as airsoft guns?

Teenagers have become especially vulnerable in this gun loving society. According to University of Utah youths, ages 10 to 19, has a higher rate of gun murders compared to adults, accounting for nearly 3400 firearm killings in 2009-2010. Moreover, the report stated that teenagers who have used guns in committing suicide has increased substantially. It is increases of these kind which begs a call for more gun control.

Dr. Victor Fornari, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. stated that access to firearms is a serious public health problem and the answer to this is limiting the access of guns to help reduce homicide and suicide cases. In effect, gun owners must be responsible enough to keep the guns they own under lock and key and with no possibility of any teenager getting access to it.

Adults as role models should reflect on the following incidents that clearly show how the presence of guns can easily turn a situation into something regrettable or tragic.

  • Colorado teen shot and killed in a prank gone wrong

On September 8, a news article featured a teenager who was shot and killed by a 21-year-old male friend. According to the report, the 18 year old girl entered the house without the knowledge of the family friend and hid in the closet. The noise of the girl getting into the closet allegedly caught the man by surprise. When the girl jumped out of the closet, the man had grabbed his gun and shot the girl without realizing who she was. The girl was rushed to the hospital, but she was pronounced dead about an hour later.

The girl’s father is not pressing any charges against the man who shot his daughter. He believes that it was just an accident. The article indicated that the man was charged by the police with reckless endangerment, child abuse, and providing a gun to a juvenile because the girls’ 15-year-old brother who was also visiting at the time of the accident had access to the gun.

  • One teen killed, another injured in Murray shooting

September 7, a news report featured a story about a double shooting incident that killed one teen while injuring another. Murray police responded to a 911 call about an alleged shooting on Potomac Drive. Police authorities are investigating the incident and had to obtain a search warrant to investigate the house where the shooting happened. A follow up article revealed the age of the teenagers as 13 and 15, respectively.

Recent updates on this case revealed that the other teenager died Sunday, after he was taken off life support. Murray Police has few answers regarding the shooting incident since the dead teens are very good friends and their families did not observe any recent misunderstanding between the two. No suicide note was found and the two boys were found in separate bedrooms and with single gunshot wounds. It appeared that the handgun which was used came from the inside of the house but is not owned by any of the boys.

  • Three teens charged in death of Australian baseball player

A sad incident happened on August 20, 2013 involving three teenagers and an Australian baseball player. The motive for the killing was described as “chilling” as the teenagers told authorities that they were..

“just bored and wanted to have some fun.”

The boys prime reason, for why they shot the Australian baseball player once in the back and left him for dead. The shooting was at random and was considered by one of the teenagers as a joke.

The three teenagers are facing criminal charges and will be tried as adults in the Oklahoma court. The two younger boys were held without bond while a  bond was set at $1 million for the third teenager.

The victim is an Australian who was on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. According to family and friends, the Australian baseball player gave up his pursuit of a football career back home in order to pursue his passion for baseball which is an American pastime.

  • Gun in the car and trip to find a mall helped land Tooele teen in Canadian jail

The news article reported a teen landed in Canadian jail after she and her friend made a wrong turn and failed to tell border agents about the gun in her car.

According to the article, the two friends were going on a trip to Washington State. The boyfriend of the teen’s friend stashed an unloaded gun in the teen’s car for protection. The report stated that the two friends were staying with relatives in Blaine, Washington. The city’s northern boundary is the Canadian border.

Last April, the two teenagers decided to find a mall to do some shopping.  However, the teens didn’t know there wasn’t an exit before the border. They arrived at the Canadian border, near the Port of Douglas, in the city of Surrey in the province of British Columbia. The border agents searched the teen’s car and found the gun. She was charged with smuggling goods into Canada, giving a false statement, as well as an unauthorized possession of a firearm. After this trip, she is banned from entering Canada. She was released on $500 bail, upon which she immediately called her father. The incident cost the teen $1,000 to retrieve her car, $7,500 in attorney fees and $1,500 in fines. The two teens claimed they simply forgot about the gun and they were not aware of the gun laws in Canada.

  • Teens taken into police custody for shooting Airsoft guns

The news report stated that two groups of teenagers of West Jordan were followed by a state trooper. The state trooper saw three shots being fired so he pulled over the two cars. The victim of the airsoft shooting suffered only minor injuries but all the teens were taken to the West Jordan Police Station for questioning while their parents were contacted by the authorities. This incident took place on July 8, 2013.

This article simply demonstrates the fact that teenagers can be unruly in the company of their peers. What is considered by some as a  harmless prank can turn deadly at any moment.

  • Teens in trouble for firing cap guns at cars

Four teenagers were pulled over by Deputies and pulled the teens from the car at gunpoint. This was after a man called 911 to report that a car pulled up beside him at the intersection of 12th Street and Wall Avenue and shot at his car. This incident that happened last September 26, 2012 was described by police to be lucky that the teens did not encounter anyone who would’ve fire back at them.

Utah Gun Law

The State Constitutional Provision says “The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.”

In Utah, rifles and shotguns do not require a permit to purchase, registration, licensing and permit to carry. On the other hand, hand gun requirement is the same with rifles and shotguns except that owners are required permit to carry.

Recent development in the gun law in Utah according to the Digital Universe of BYU includes a bill that will allow legal gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside of their home, property or vehicle, work or hunting. This bill makes obtaining a concealed carry permit unnecessary unless someone wants to carry a weapon outside of Utah or into a school.

Responsibility of Gun Owners

Responsible gun ownership is a personal thing. Ensuring that the gun will be used for protection and will not result in unintentional harm or wrongful death is something that gun owners will have to bear alone. No amount of restriction or state regulation can prevent anyone from using the gun (either his or of another) in a situation where emotion rules and sane thoughts are no longer possible.

History of fatal shooting incidents show that such events were triggered by conflict; misunderstanding and some shooters have some serious psychological issues. Research has found out that guns used in school shooting incidents were taken without the owner’s knowledge or were stolen. Reza et al. (2003) was cited in saying  that 80% of school-associated firearm-related homicides and suicides, the weapons used were obtained from the home or from a friend or relative. Miller, Azrael & Hemenway (2002b) claim that the number of suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm deaths among youth (ages 5-14) is higher in states and regions where guns are more prevalent.

Christensen & Hymas would like to remind everyone that it would be a different matter when someone who is reckless or negligent caused injury to another. Irresponsible use of gun may also result in wrongful death. Offenders may have to face the consequences of their actions and that includes paying the damages to compensate the victim for the costs of hospitalization and the loss of income including potential income.

Call us at (801)506-0800 for any concern regarding personal injury claims. We have expert personal injury lawyers who can help you make sense of your case and file appropriate compensation claims.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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