BELLEVUE, WA â€“ Criminal charges filed today in the death of a Tacoma, WA toddler prove that the state does not need a new gun law to hold adults responsible for firearms negligence, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist today charged Eric Vita, 23, and the boyâ€™s mother, Jahnisha McIntosh, 22, with second-degree manslaughter in the March 14 death of Julio Segura-McIntosh. Vita had placed his 9mm pistol under the seat of his car when he stepped out to pump gas shortly after midnight. The youngster got hold of the pistol and shot himself in the head.
â€œThe Citizens Committee has maintained all along that the answer to this sort of tragedy is not to rush out and pass some restrictive new law,â€ said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. â€œInstead, Lindquist has acted with an existing statute, and that should send a message to Olympia that we have ample laws already to hold people accountable for their negligent acts.
â€œThis is not an attempt to break new legal ground in prosecuting negligence,â€ he continued. â€œNaturally, it will be up to a judge and possibly a jury in Tacoma to determine whether the charge Lindquist filed is appropriate to the situation.â€
Gottlieb noted that another, similar case of a firearm-related child death in a car is still under investigation in Snohomish County. He cautioned the public not to make any presumptions about the outcome of that investigation.
â€œWhile the cases are similar,â€ he observed, â€œwe still do not know all the facts surrounding the tragic death of a Marysville police officerâ€™s daughter. What happened today in Pierce County should not be considered a signal about the Snohomish County case one way or the other.
â€œWhat todayâ€™s criminal charges do signal,â€ Gottlieb concluded, â€œis that anti-gun rights state lawmakers should refrain from rushing to exploit a tragedy in order to push their personal political agenda. Let prosecutors do their jobs, and let the existing law work.â€