After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Gun Tests magazine tried to steer the after-action conversation toward a concept everyone can agree on. People who love guns and who love to shoot must be the first line of defense when it comes to denying firearms access to the wrong kinds of people. The latest school-shooting incident in Oxford, Michigan, on November 30, 2021, is an example of that concept failing.
Three students were killed at Oxford High School, and eight other people were injured. On December 1, a fourth student died in the hospital as a result of injuries sustained during the shooting. Within two to three minutes of the arrival of first responders, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley was arrested unharmed by a deputy assigned as a school resource officer and a second deputy who had responded to the scene. A 9mm SIG Sauer SP 2022 semi-automatic handgun and at least two 15-round magazines were recovered from Crumbley, while a third magazine was found at the school.
The 15-year-old sophomore has been charged as an adult, with one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony in connection with the school shooting.
On December 3, 2021, the shooter’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, were charged with involuntary manslaughter for failing to secure the handgun used in the shooting.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the father James Crumbley had purchased the gun under his name from a local shop on Black Friday, four days prior to the shooting. Prosecuting attorney for Oakland County, Karen McDonald, later said that Ethan Crumbley was with his father at the time of the purchase, and that he posted about it on social media later that day. Prosecutor McDonald also said that Jennifer Crumbley referred to the gun as Ethan’s “new Christmas present” in a social media post.
At present, all of these efforts are simply charges, and the boy and his parents have the right of being innocent until proven guilty.
For our part as gun owners, we must stick to a scrupulous dedication to keep firearms out of the hands of the criminal, and the crazy, and the careless. We must understand that people we know, including our relatives of all ages, might not be right in the head, and responsible gun owners must deny them access to firearms.
We the people who own and enjoy firearms need to pay serious attention to security — and our focus must never waver. We can’t forget that the Sandy Hook shooter shot his own mother with her own semi-automatic rifle. It’s too easy and flip to say “ban this” and “ban that” without getting to this crucial element of firearms security.
We also posited that it’s up to us to be sufficiently aware of our environment and the people around us — to be on the alert for people who might commit these horrible acts of violence against innocents. Following the Parkland massacre, there have been many discussions about how, and even if, we can spot those sufficiently deranged who might be capable of committing mass murder. But we have to try. The first step is gun safes, action locks, trigger locks—and simple awareness.
In the Oxford incident, the “see something, say something” concept went wrong. Law-enforcement officials have said they haven’t ruled out charges against school officials who might not have acted to stop the shooting in advance.
Gun Tests readers are just as horrified as anyone else by what happened in Michigan. Our condolences go out to the families and to the larger Oxford community who have to bear the consequences of this horrible act. Further, Gun Tests readers, like other responsible gun owners, want something done to stop school shootings.
As knowledgeable gun owners, Gun Tests readers know that paying lip service to restrictions and limitations isn’t the answer. Guns aren’t going to magically disappear. But gun owners, in particular, do have a responsibility to report erratic and potentially dangerous behavior in their communities. Likewise, we need to make absolutely certain we don’t lose custody of our firearms.
Because we have access to guns, it’s up to gun owners to be the front line of responsible gun ownership and report when we see dangerous behavior. We can’t stand on the sidelines and say “It’s not my business” and move on. The trouble is, will we get law enforcement and schools to follow up effectively? That clearly did not happen in the Oxford event.
Legitimate gun owners want law enforcement to have the tools to stop such people before they commit mass murder. We believe gun owners are willing to police our own ranks and report dangerous gun use and threats to people or places. But we have to have some confidence that if we “say something,” then law enforcement will “do something” to stop the violence before it occurs.