While sentencing a father whose son stole his revolver, brought it to school, and fired it at a fence to allegedly impress a few classmates, an Australian judge alluded to the recent elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT, as a way of emphasizing the man’s parental negligence.
“I do not want to make more of your offending than it deserves, but recent events in America illustrate what happens when guns and ammunition are placed in young hands,” said South Australia District Court Judge Paul Rice during the hearing.
The 42-year-old father, whose identity has not been publicized, pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered firearm, possessing a firearm without a license and failing to store ammunition separately, ABC News AU reported.
Judge Rice suspended the man’s 18-month prison term, but said that the father, who is an enthusiastic hunter and outdoorsman, would serve two years probation, would be prohibited from possessing a firearms license for eight years and would have to pay a $500 fine.
In short, the man’s privilege to keep and bear arms was revoked for almost a decade.
In what appeared to be a stern lecture on responsible parenting and proper gun storage (according to Australian standards), Judge Rice openly criticized the father in court.
“You hid the key to [your gun] safe in your underwear drawer in the main bedroom. That was an unimaginative hiding place,” said the judge.
“I’ve been asked not to make you a scapegoat for your son’s actions. That I will not do but I cannot divorce your offending from his.”
The incident actually happened last May, and the man’s 13-year-old son pleaded guilty in youth court to firearms charges, though he was not officially convicted. It’s not clear as to whether the teen has mental issues or not.
“(Your son) was first and foremost a danger to himself, his siblings and his parents, but as chance would have it, nobody was injured or killed,” said Judge Rice.
“Your conduct enabled him to do what he did.”
Again, to clarify, the teen went into his father’s room, sifted through his father’s underwear drawer, found the key to the gun safe, opened the gun safe, grabbed the unregistered revolver, brought it to school, and fired a bullet into a fence in what’s been describe as an “isolated” area near school grounds.
With respect to the gun-related charges, the father received the revolver as part of an inheritance and did not have the proper ‘class H’ firearm license.
“You inherited the revolver from your grandmother’s estate,” said the judge. “You intended to apply for a class H firearm license. You have a class A and B license and you had guns appropriate to those licenses.”
The father claimed that he did not have the funds to pay for a class H license, but was going to apply for one as soon as he had the money to do so.
Judge rice did not seem very sympathetic to the man’s excuse and said that his punishment should serve as a message to all gun-owning parents.
“Your breach of gun laws was quite flagrant and irresponsible,” said Judge Rice. “I do not think you need to be deterred from offending again. Others need to be deterred.”