Tag: jennifer crumbley
Parents Who Arm Troubled Kids Finally Face Justice

Parents Who Arm Troubled Kids Finally Face Justice

Her blank face in court spoke volumes. Jennifer Crumbley saw no problem handing her severely depressed 15-year-old a semiautomatic handgun as a Christmas present. Ethan soon after turned the gun on the student body of Oxford High, killing four.

What makes this case both chilling and sickening is that Ethan had telegraphed his rapid unravelling, and his mother ignored it. He told her there was a demon in the house. He sent her desperate text messages that she did not address: Jennifer was reportedly off tending to her horses and a secretive six-month affair.

The school called in both parents to discuss a violent drawing Ethan had made in math class. It showed a bleeding person and a gun and the words "blood everywhere" and "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me" on a math sheet.

The parents failed to tell the school he had a gun. And they refused to take him home. They had jobs, you know.

When the school told the parents that Ethan was found searching online for ammunition, Jennifer sent her boy a supportive text. It read: "LOL (laughing out loud), I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

Jennifer failed to impress the jury with praise of her parenting skills and her sweet descriptions of family Thanksgiving dinners. She blamed Ethan's father for not properly storing the weapon, but that also didn't get her off the hook.

Jennifer was convicted on four counts of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison. Her husband will soon be tried.

What is going on? Americans have always owned guns for hunting, sport or self-defense. But today's politicized gun mania has turned deadly firearms into toys for children or fashion accessories.

There was that famous case of the 6-year-old who shot his elementary school teacher in Newport News, Virginia. His mother was sentenced to two years in prison for child neglect. How on earth did a first grader get access to a loaded gun? It was lying around the house.

The gun obsession played a part in the horrific 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 innocents dead. The killer's divorced mother, Nancy Lanza, would go to bars at night bragging to the guys about her guns. Despite son Adam's history of serious mental illness, she left the firearms strewn around their house. Today a jury probably would have locked her up and thrown away the key — had Adam not murdered her first.

Other lonely women have been known to seek company by making common cause with the male-dominated gun fixation. In Oregon, Laurel Harper participated in gun forums, alternating her topics between descriptions of her son's mental illness and her gun collection.

She probably expected pats on the head when she told the fellas, "I keep two full mags in my Glock case. And the ARs and AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." Wildly clueless, she criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.

Her son Christopher Harper-Mercer had been involuntarily hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. He brought six guns to Umpqua Community College in Roseburg and slaughtered 10 people. After the massacre, Laurel told detectives that Christopher was "mad at the world."

Are parents who keep unsecured loaded weapons in homes shared with disturbed or very young children themselves mentally off? The argument can be made. But if police removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun lobby would go crazy.

Legal experts see the Crumbley case as the first to directly hold parents culpable for giving a child who turns guns on others access to weapons. But where did these parents come from?

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Targeting The Socially Deviant Parents Of School Shooters

Targeting The Socially Deviant Parents Of School Shooters

After the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, then-Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, evaded calls for banning weapons of war. But he had other ideas. The "more realistic discussion," Rogers said, is "how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"

Tightening the gun laws would seem a lot easier and less intrusive than psychoanalyzing everyone with access to a weapon. But to address Rogers' point following the recent mass murder at a suburban Detroit high school, the question might be, "How do we with target the adults who hand powerful firearms to children with mental illness?"

The parents of Ethan Crumbley presented their clearly troubled 15-year-old with a high-powered weapon. He is charged with using the semiautomatic handgun to murder four students at Oxford High School.

This is hardly the first case of parents enabling a sick child to act on his violent fantasies. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the 20-year-old who killed 27 innocents at the Connecticut elementary school, left an unsecured Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle at her tidy house. Nancy was Adam Lanza's first victim.

Laurel Harper had previously placed her son Christopher in a psychiatric hospital, but that did not deter her from keeping unsecured guns at their home. Christopher brought six of them to his 2015 rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine students died.

Both Nancy Lanza and Laurel Harper were divorced women left to single-handedly deal with children tortured by inner demons. But rather than steer their sons away from the gun culture, they both dove into it.

Nancy would go to bars at night and brag about all the guns she kept at home. Laurel, a nurse, spent long hours on forums, her subjects alternating between her son's mental illness and her gun collection.

"I keep two full mags in my Glock case," Laurel swaggered online. "And the ARs & AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." She criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.

Concerning disregard for the lives of others, no one would beat James and Jennifer Crumbley. The school called them in after Ethan was found having drawn pictures of a gun, a bullet and bloody figure with the words "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me."

They came in but refused to take Ethan home. They wanted to get back to their jobs.

The day before, the school informed the parents that their son was found searching online for ammunition. Jennifer responded by sending an insanely supportive text to Ethan: "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

When these details emerged, the parents took off to hide from getting caught. They now face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

The central focus of the Michigan horror has rightly moved from a mentally ill high schooler to his socially deviant parents. Which leads to these two questions:

Aren't parents who keep loaded weapons in a home shared by a disturbed child with violent obsessions themselves mentally twisted? And what could be done about them?

A woman had reportedly told investigators in Connecticut that she overheard Adam Lanza say he planned to kill his mother and children at the elementary school. She even called the local police. But since Nancy Lanza, not Adam, owned the weapons, the police couldn't take them away.

If police had removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun rights fanatics would have exploded with outrage. How dare you go after these noble defenders of the Second Amendment?

Besides, it's easy to identify mentally ill people who use firearms, right? It's certainly easy once the massacre is over.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.