OUR POSITION: Two deadly incidents put the spotlight on how easily kids can get their hands on guns and how the results can be tragic.
Hopefully we’re preaching to the choir when we say guns don’t belong in the hands of kids. But, unfortunately, some adults think it’s OK for kids to own guns and also unfortunately kids can too easily get their hands on guns.
We’ll accept the blowback from National Rifle Association advocates and fathers who want to take their sons and daughters hunting or teach them how to shoot a gun. They’ll call it the American way of life. But learning how to shoot a gun with a parent in a safe environment is one thing. Guns are not toys and teens and children should not be allowed to own a gun they can easily access. It’s against the law.
There are two tragic examples of teens with guns and deadly outcomes we can cite in just the last month or two.
In the past two weeks we’ve seen five arrested — four of them juveniles and one as young as 14 — after gunfire from a car in North Port found its target in 18-year-old Micah Dankowitz. Dankowitz later died from his wounds.
Police have arrested Anthony Earl Wicks, 22; Javen M. Paul, 15; Gaven Scott Smith, 17; Navarius Mason 14; and Travon Abdi, 15. All five suspects are charged with second degree murder.
All five are innocent until proven guilty, of course. And if these are the persons in the car that drove by a North Port home and opened fire on Dankowitz, allegedly because of his relationship with a girl, we still have no idea which, or how many of them, had guns and shot.
Witnesses have told police shots came from a red Nissan Cube that was driving slowly on Biscayne Drive near Porto Chico Avenue. All the details are still speculation. Wicks’ mother, Tiffanie Cole, did say her son was driving the car. She told police and the media he has disabilities and that they had moved to North Port to “be safe.”
This senseless tragedy comes just weeks after Autumn Higgs, 16, was shot and killed in the home of her boyfriend’s mother in Englewood.
Hayden Jeffrey Wik, 17, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a minor in Higgs’ death, that was originally called an accidental shooting by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Lori Lynn Wik, his mother, was later arrested for “knowingly and willfully permitting her juvenile son to unlawfully possess a firearm.” Both her and her son’s arrest came after an investigation by the State Attorney’s Office after the CCSO handed the case over.
When police arrived at the Wik home they found two guns — a mini-Draco semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine and an AR-15.
These are not the type of guns parents normally buy to teach kids to hunt with.
We’re sure there are numerous other incidents of kids owning a gun. But it’s not allowed.
In the wild west, it was a necessity. This is not the wild west. Parents must be more responsible.
Two families — the Wiks and the parents and grandparents of Higgs — are decimated. Their lives have been changed forever.
An 18-year-old in North Port will never get married, raise a family or enjoy growing old. And it’s quite likely someone in that red Nissan will see the inside of a prison cell.
It should never come to this.