Maybe A Sticky Question?

Parental responsibilities … to what degree are parents responsible for the actions of their children?

You all remember the mass shooting in the Highland Park suburb north of Chicago on July 4th?  Seven people were killed and 48 more injured by a gunman shooting into the crowd from a rooftop.  The shooter used a high-powered rifle and ultimately fired no less than 83 rounds of ammunition.  The shooter was Robert Eugene Crimo III, age 21 at the time, now 22.  When Crimo was captured several hours after the shooting, police seized three rifles, one shotgun, and one handgun from Crimo. Crimo confessed to the shooting the following day, but has since pled ‘not guilty’. He was initially charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, but the charges were upgraded when a Lake County, Illinois, grand jury indicted Crimo on July 27, 2022. Crimo was indicted on 117 felony counts: 21 counts of first-degree murder, three for each deceased victim; along with 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery for each victim struck by a bullet or shrapnel.

This week, Crimo’s father, Robert Bob Crimo Jr., was arrested and charged with seven counts of reckless conduct in connection with the shooting.  Why, you ask?  Because the father had signed the gun application permit for his son to purchase his guns, despite knowing of at least two previous incidents that would indicate that he had some serious mental health issues.  In one incident, police were called when Crimo attempted suicide, and just a few months later police were again called because he was threatening to kill his entire family with knives.  And yet, his father signed for him to purchase guns, and says that he has no regrets for sponsoring his son for an Illinois FOID card that allowed his son to legally purchase weapons even after the aforementioned incidents that raised red flags with police.

According to prosecutor Eric Rinehart …

“People bear responsibility when they recklessly endanger others.  The government is not typically going to know more than a parent about what’s going on with an 18-, 19- or 20-year-old.”

While I fully agree with the charges against the father, others do not.  Mr. Crimo’s lawyer, George M. Gomez, called the charges “baseless and unprecedented” and he went on to say that the decision “should alarm every single parent in the United States of America” who could be held criminally liable for the actions of their adult children.

In my view, the father is being charged not because he should have been a better parent, not because his son has obvious mental health problems, and not even because his son killed seven people.  He is being charged because he enabled his son to do what he did.  Period.  He essentially put the guns in his son’s hands.  Yes, it was the son who made the decision to go out and kill people for reasons that are as yet not understood, and he should pay for his actions.  But the father was an accessory to the crime and he, too, bears a portion of responsibility and should pay a price.

I suspect this case will bring about a bit of controversy and I won’t be surprised if the father wins his case and the charges are dropped, but I still support charging any parent who gives permission for their child to buy a gun, especially when that child has shown a tendency to violence in the past.  Don’t we, as parents, as the people who know our children better than anyone else, have a responsibility to draw a line when it comes to enabling them to destroy their own lives as well as those of others, even when they are legally considered “adults”?

Your thoughts?

28 thoughts on “Maybe A Sticky Question?

  1. Yes, he bears some responsibility. If the son would not have been able to purchase the guns without his father’s co-signature, then absolutely. In NY, that’s called being an accessory after the fact or aiding & abetting the crime, even if you weren’t actually present during the commission of the crime. Other states have this same legal ideology.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Michael! Our gun laws really must be changed … it’s absolutely crazy to allow a person who has threatened to kill his family with a knife, access to guns! And the father … what kind of father wants his son holding a gun, when his son has tried to kill people before? Sigh. xx

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  2. My knee-jerk response is that the father bears some responsibility. However, it is definitely a sticky issue because even though the kid seemed to have displayed some mental/emotional issues in the past, most parents tend to overlook and/or excuse such things. Whether the father will end up being prosecuted for his role remains to be seen, but IMO, there needs to be SOME sort of penalizing action since it might show other parents that they need to be more conscientious of their kids’ actions.

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    • I think the thing that convinced me the father should bear some legal liability is that even after the shootings, he said he had no regrets for signing the permit for his son to purchase guns. And, thoughout the son’s childhood, the father had been violent and abusive (the mother abandoned the family when the son was 2 years old).

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  3. In New Zealand or Australia and I bet most countries with strict gun laws this person who had mental issues would be refused gun purchase from a background check and in fact if he already had guns at home they would have been confiscated after the first red flag. I believe unless the son was bullying his father, the father should be prosecuted because he knew of his sons mental state. This is like giving the keys for a car to someone who has recently been responsible for two serious car accidents, or allowing a person who self harms access to the knife draw. The father should be prosecuted as the defence lawyer said, to send the alarm to every single parent in the USA who furnish their families with permits and guns.

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    • You are exactly right. The core of the problem in this and every other mass shooting in the U.S. is the fact that our elected representatives refuse to pass any meaningful gun legislation because they are paid millions of dollars by the gun lobby to vote against gun regulations. ALL gun regulations, even things like age requirements, background checks, and licensing requirements. It is tougher to get a license to drive a car than to own an assault weapon here! I fully agree that the father should be charged and convicted. He faces a measly 3-year prison sentence (maximum) if convicted, and in more ways than one he contributed to the deaths of those 7 people.

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  4. Yes, charge the father, both for bringing up his child to hate other people and for enabling his crimes. And while they’re at it they should also charge every politician who has taken the NRA’s blood money, for enabling the crimes too.

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    • You’ve just hit the nail on the head … it is the dearth of gun regulations that enable these mass shootings to continue. Our elected officials care far more about the money they get from the gun lobby than they care about the lives of the people who pay their salaries. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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  5. I firmly believe that parents have a responsibility for the actions their children take.as adults as they have built certain mindset into their children through example.. Children rarely learn to hate unless they’ve seen it in action at home. If parents are aware of mental problems with a child they have a responsibility to seek help for the child and make sure they have no access to weapons.

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    • I fully agree. This family was dysfunctional from the beginning when the mother abandoned the family when the son was only 2 years of age, and the police intervened on at least ten occasions where the father engaged in violence, so it’s no wonder the son grew up with problems. In truth, I think the father shares the burden of blame in more ways than signing for his son to get a gun permit. But, again, it all boils down to the lax gun laws in this country. Until we wake up and take guns out of the hands of civilians, these mass murders will continue to happen … again and again and again. Sigh.

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  6. I would say it depends. To be honest, if someone vouched for the character of another person knowing they had threatened the life of their family, it doesn’t really matter if it was a parent, a teacher, a neighbour or a total stranger. They knowingly lied, and for that they should be held accountable.

    The old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” still holds true today. Parents are only one influence among many that go into forming the values of a child. Their peers, educators, and the values of the community in which they live probably have more influence than the parents. Blame, if it is to be apportioned, should take all these influences into account.

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    • Good points all. I always did like that saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” and perhaps in this day when both parents in most households must work in order to survive, it’s even more true than before. The ‘culprit’ in nearly every similar case, of course, is the lack of gun laws in this country, the ideology of the masses that guns are a “god-given right” and should not be regulated in any way, shape, or form. We are paying a high price for that mentality, and yet our lawmakers are still taking huge sums of money from the gun lobby to keep gun laws from being passed. Sigh.

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  7. You are tight about it not being a simple question, and maybe that is the problem. Parents who teach their children to hate others, whatever the reason for the hatred, should in my mind be held responsible for the children committing hate crimes, whether it be minor like graffitti, or major, such as a mass shooting. If they teach hate, even by modelling it, they need to be held to task.
    This particular mass shooting is probably not a hate crime (though it could be), and we do not know if the parents fostered hatred (though they might have), but we do know the father knew about the problems the son was having. What we do not know was whether the son coerced the father to sign the papers — was the son a bully and the father a victim of that bullying. This is a distinct possibility. Family violence does not just work one way, parent on child. Children can also bully parents.
    Were I the prosecutor on this case, I would need to know more…

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    • This family had been unstable for a long time. The mother abandoned the family when the son was 2 years old, then later was convicted on felony charges (I cannot remember what for), and police had responded to the home at least 10 times due to violence on the part of the father, so the son did not have a stable, loving home life. However, at some point we all grow up and can no longer blame our actions on an unhappy childhood. Yes, there are many circumstances to be considered here, but there is no evidence that the son coerced the father to sign the gun permit request, for even after the shooting, the father said he had ‘no regrets’.

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      • Then it sounds like the father needs to take some responsibilty. He signed the papers knowing there could be trouble. But why was he involved at all? The son was considered an adult. What brought the father into play?
        I’m glad we have laws in our country that are somewhat better than in the USA.

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        • The son was under 21 at the time, and in Illinois, minors must have parental consent to purchase a gun. Yes, I’m glad you do too, though I fear some of our gun culture is finding its way north of the border, as I read today about a mass shooting … 5 people, I believe, in Canada.

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          • Yes, I heard about this after I sent the comment. Apparently a senior who gave up fighting his condo board, and decided to wipe out the board instead. What he was doing with a semi-automatic pistol is anyone’s guess.
            I really don’t know what our world is coming to. The ruling Liberals are trying to ban automatic weapons, and the Consetvatives — like your Republicans — are fighting it. The problem is the Liberals seem to not have done their homework, and tried to ban some Olympic target weapons and some single-shot rifles as well, which gives the Conservatives a leg to stand on. I fear the Libs did this on purpose to make it look like they were doing something good while they were making it impossible to pass the law. Politics! Politicians! They can’t be trusted!
            Meanwhile the gun manufacturers are raking in the profits, along with most big businesses. We are just a game to them, and THEY are making the rules!

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  8. The parent, I believe, should only get charged with providing the gunman with the weapon, and the adult son should take responsibility for his own, going on a rampage, because, he is, over eighteen, and, maybe, the father should not have provided the son with the weapon he used, but, he was still not the one, opening fire, therefore, I believe, that it would not be fair that he gets charged as an accomplice of his own son’s, crimes. And, in regards to the fact, that he may well have, enabled his own son, by buying him the gun used, we can argue, that, in cases like these, it’s the shooters, and not the ones who provided the physical weapons that are, more, responsible, granted that, there should be, a, way TOUGHER, gun control law being set up, but seeing how the NRA, is a, huge contributor to the election funddls of, many of the U.S. Congress, yeah, I don’t see a stricter gun control laws getting passes, anytime, soon…

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