Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

After the Kentucky School Shooting, a Look at How Kids Get Guns

On Tuesday morning, Heather Adams was one of the dozens of frantic parents who rushed to Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, after news broke that a shooter had opened fire just minutes before classes began.

As Adams waited for her son to emerge from the school, she noticed a distraught woman who could not find her child. Adams texted her son for information, and then both women learned something terrible: the shooter was the distraught woman’s son. The boy, whose name has not been released by police, is accused of carrying out a rampage that left two 15-year-old students dead and another 18 injured.

“I held her hair while she threw up,” Adams told a reporter.

Adams added that the gun was taken from the closet of the shooter’s parents. While police have not confirmed the origin of the weapon, it would follow a pattern of shootings carried out by minors.

These are the details reported by the Ohio Valley ReSource, a radio journalism collaborative that focuses on economic and social change in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Yesterday, The Trace’s Mike Spies and I assisted ReSource staffers Nicole Erwin and Jeff Young on their story about Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws — legislation intended to deter the negligent storage of firearms around children — and the National Rifle Association’s influence in the Ohio Valley.

According to the Giffords Law Center, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some sort of CAP law, though they vary considerably in strength. Kentucky’s is one of the weakest. Parents or guardians in the state are breaking the law only if they provide a firearm directly to a child when they know there is a good chance that the kid will use the gun to commit a crime.

Numerous studies have found that CAP laws are effective at reducing suicides, unintentional deaths, and injuries among children.

Gerald Neal, a Democratic state senator from Louisville, introduced a bill in 2016 that would strengthen the state’s CAP law. 

In multiple capitals, including Frankfort, legislators who have proposed child access legislation have seen their bills flounder in the face of National Rifle Association opposition.

You can read ReSource’s full story here, or listen to it below: