Don’t Blame the Oxford Tragedy on Bad Gun Laws - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Don’t Blame the Oxford Tragedy on Bad Gun Laws

Democrats inevitably demand more gun restrictions whenever a school shooting takes place, and the tragic events at Michigan’s Oxford High School on November 30 are no exception.  

“We need better gun laws,” said Karen McDonald, the Democratic prosecutor for Oakland County, Michigan, in a press conference after the incident.   

McDonald is free to offer her opinion, and no doubt many upstanding Americans share her sentiment. Hopefully, her thoughts on gun control, discussed more below, don’t distract from the incompetence and dereliction displayed by Oxford school officials. 

Let’s review the salient facts leading up to this tragedy, beginning on November 29, when a teacher saw Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore, searching for ammunition on his phone in class.  

Ethan wasn’t sent home. The police weren’t called. The school resource officer, a deputy sheriff, wasn’t notified. And nothing suggests that school officials searched Crumbley’s social media posts on November 29. 

Instead, counselors spoke with Ethan, and tried, unsuccessfully, to reach his parents, but he remained in school, returning on November 30.

Which is when another teacher saw a note on Ethan’s desk containing a drawing of a gun, a bloody figure shot through with bullet wounds, the words “the thoughts won’t stop,” help me,” and other material indicative of a young mind obsessed with homicidal fantasies. The alarmed teacher contacted the administration and took a picture of the note on her phone. 

Many Americans will be surprised to learn that searching for ammunition and writing pathologic notes about killing isn’t a disciplinary issue in schools these days. “No discipline was warranted,” insisted Oxford Superintendent of Schools Tim Throne in a video message to the community. 

And so, just like the previous day, the cops weren’t called, the school resource officer wasn’t notified, and the principal wasn’t alerted.

Instead, a school counselor removed Ethan from class for more conversation, joined at some point by his parents, who had been summoned to school. 

Counselors had the note, partially scribbled over by Ethan prior to being removed from class but sufficiently disturbing to have counselors tell his parents that child services would be called if they didn’t get help for Ethan within 48 hours. 

When Ethan’s parents resisted the idea of taking him home, counselors allowed him to remain at school — despite the note, despite the previous day, despite the litany of ignored signs in previous school shootings, and despite having actual knowledge that Ethan may have had access to a firearm, as he had informed counselors on November 29 that he and his parents frequented a gun range.

Also present at the aforementioned meeting was Ethan’s backpack which, according to McDonald, contained the semiautomatic handgun he would use hours later.  

McDonald has rightly condemned the parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, for not mentioning the gun, which they had given to Ethan as an early Christmas present, and for not checking their son’s backpack. 

Also justified is her decision to bring manslaughter charges against the parents, who were shown Ethan’s note.  

But Oxford School Officials, who never bothered to even search Ethan’s backpack, allowed this tragedy to happen.  

Believe it or not, in a letter to the community, Throne defended his counselors, commending their “professional training and clinical experience.” You can’t make this stuff up. 

Counselors assessed Ethan as a non-threat, Throne’s letter explains, because he seemed calm. Yet if anything, that’s consistent with the demeanor exhibited by many individuals who’ve gone on homicidal rampages.  

Throne, who hasn’t held a news conference, does make an unintended point. Only an “expert” ensconced inside a government bureaucracy could be stupid enough to not see the threat in front of them. (READ MORE: Hard Truths About School Shootings and Gun Violence)

And it takes the “empathy” of a modern-day social worker to keep Ethan at school rather than being “sent home to an empty house” — another reason he cites to justify the counselors’ decisions. And they didn’t simply allow him to remain in school; they sent him back to class!  

Later, horrifically, he entered a restroom with his backpack, emerging with the semiautomatic pistol. He walked up to victims, shooting at close range, and shot into classrooms through barricaded doors. He murdered four students and injured others (six students and a teacher). 

If there was accountability in public schools, resignations would have already been tendered.

It may not seem possible, but it gets worse — at least according to a lawsuit filed last Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of two students, one injured by a bullet and her sister. The allegations are explosive.  

On November 29, the complaint says, the shooter posted this to his publicly available Twitter profile biography: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.” 

The lawsuit describes a community on edge in the weeks leading up to the shooting over other threats to the school on social media. School officials, the lawsuit says, made assurances that there was no reason for concern over “a few social media posts,” even admonishing students to stop spreading information about threats over social media.  

By all appearances, McDonald is a diligent and capable prosecutor, but her gun control prescription misses the target.    

For example, she bemoans “woefully inadequate” Michigan laws that allow minors to visit a gun range if accompanied by an adult. 

Millions of American families enjoy shooting skeet, trap, and sharpening their skills at gun ranges — doing so is anything but irresponsible.   

She states that responsible gun ownership means “locking it” and “keeping the ammunition separate,” which burdens the right to self-defense at least as much as the D.C. trigger lock mandate struck down in Heller.  

It’s also difficult to see how such rules would have stopped Ethan Crumbley. Oxford officials could have — and should have. A train was coming — but they were asleep at the switch.  

McDonald, don’t blame gun laws for the Oxford shootings. Blame Ethan Crumbley. Blame his parents. And last, but definitely not least, blame Oxford school officials.  

Ken Sondik, an attorney in Zionsville, Indiana, can be reached at

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