There’s been another shooting in Albuquerque. It’s a common thing to hear in this town, except this time the shooter and the victim were just 13 years old.
On August 13, 2021, Juan Saucedo took the life of Bennie Hargrove. Both were students at Washington Middle School. Police said the victim was trying to protect another boy who was being bullied.
Never letting a tragedy go to waste, it took three days before state Democrats began calling for more gun laws.
City Councilor Pat Davis said that “every couple of years, we’ve tried new legislation to try and make Albuquerque more responsible when it comes to owning guns.” Davis is referring to child access prevention laws, which require gun owners to secure their firearms with a gun lock or inside of a safe. Failure to do so is a crime. It sounds like a simple enough concept, but it comes with all kinds of problems, primarily the government reaching further into private citizens’ homes.
As of 2019, 27 states and Washington, DC, had passed Child Access Prevention laws in some form or another. New Mexico does not have one of these laws on the books, but several of our neighbors do. Texas and Colorado have both passed laws aimed at making gun owners responsible for their firearms falling into the hands of minor children or unauthorized users.
In Texas, failing to prevent access to a readily dischargeable firearm by a child under 17 is a violation of the law. “Readily dischargeable” means the gun has a loaded magazine stored with it. To comply, the firearm must be locked with a gun lock (also known as a slide lock) or stored in a secured container such as a gun safe.
The law in Colorado is a little more detailed and covers additional circumstances. A violation occurs when someone intentionally, knowingly or recklessly provides a handgun to any person under age 18 or fails to take reasonable action to prevent a minor rom committing a crime. While Colorado does not have a safe storage law, it’s in the works. On March 2, 2021, HB-1106 passed its first committee, along party lines. This law would make it a crime if someone stole your weapon.
Texas and Colorado include exceptions in their access prevention laws. A minor child accessing a firearm for the purpose of self-defense is not a violation of the law. So, in one breath, the government wants to force the locking or disabling of firearms, and in the next breath state that a minor may legally access, unlock, piece back together, break into a safe and utilize a firearm if some “methed” out loser breaks into the home.
Americans have the right to defend themselves and they also are guaranteed the right to bear arms. On June 26, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme court found that a law requiring guns in the home to be kept inoperable “makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.” It has yet to be seen how this ruling may be applied to these access prevention laws.
None of this is to say that owning gun locks or investing in a quality firearm safe is a bad idea. All gun owners should be responsible, knowing that a firearm is a tool that can be used to take life. The problem is that government should not need to create laws to force citizens to use common sense.
There are other methods besides gun locks and safes to keep firearms in the home.
One is to teach your children about firearm safety. Teach them what a firearm is, what it does, and how to use it. Firearm education is severely lacking in 2021. Until a child sees the destruction that a firearm can cause at the range, they are not going to understand why they must never “play” with one.
Let’s also not forget that social issues are affecting our kids. Take a look back at
, 13-year-old Juan Saucedo Jr. Where did the influence come from to make this kid think bringing a gun to school was okay? What influence made him think that he could take another human’s life?
Look no further than Saucdeo Sr., who shot another parent in the leg and hand outside of a high school in 2018. According to KOB, “Saucedo Sr. and other family members were also involved in an incident at an elementary school in 2015” where they repeatedly kicked a woman during a Thanksgiving lunch, “leaving her with a broken back.”
Read the stories for yourself and determine whether this family’s constant involvement in violence has had an impact on their child.
The social issues do not stop with the family. The criminal complaint just filed in the case says in the hours before the shooting, Juan Saucedo had the gun in his backpack and he showed it to multiple kids at the school.
Multiple kids saw the gun and they did nothing.
Perhaps they were afraid, or maybe they thought it was cool. We don’t know their rationale. But as responsible gun owners with children, we know what our children would do–because we’ve told them. This is the failure of parents to educate their children. Kids who have seen the destructive power of firearms would know exactly what to do in a situation like this: run, call your parents or the police. No child should have to live with the terror of knowing that they could have saved someone’s life.
We must do better raising our children, but the state should recognize that one parent’s failure isn’t a reason to punish law-abiding gun owners.
Another tragedy in the city of Albuquerque has led to the death of a young man and more calls for government overreach into the private homes of American citizens. Firearm access prevention laws are just another Band Aid to apply to the real problem facing our city, state and nation: a lack of responsible parents raising their kids.