Jackson Councilman pens ordinance to hold parents accountable for their kids’ gun crimes

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 3:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A Jackson City Councilman said parents must be held accountable when their children commit gun crimes and has introduced an ordinance that would call for that.

Tuesday, members of the city council’s Public Safety/Park and Environment Committee are expected to discuss an ordinance introduced by Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks, which would punish parents or guardians whose minor children commit crimes using a handgun.

“I introduced the ordinance in 2019. There was pushback from the ACLU, and so we placed it in the city attorney’s office to get some feedback and never really got anything,” he said. “In lieu of everything going on, I’m pushing to get this done again.”

A notice for the public safety committee was sent out Friday morning, a day after a particularly violent day in the capital city where a 12-year-old was murdered, and three other minors were shot, including a six-year-old riding in a vehicle with her mother. 

The meeting is slated for 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 31, at Greater Bethlehem Temple Church.

Banks said ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, was concerned, in part, because parents affected may be in poverty or might not know that their child has a gun.

Under the ordinance, any parent or guardian of a minor would have to spend 24 hours in county jail and pay a $500 fine the first time their child commits a crime with a gun. The penalties grow harsher after every offense. After the third offense, for example, the parent or guardian would have to spend 72 hours in county jail and pay a $2,500 fine.

“I come from the school where good parents are nosy parents,” Banks said. “I issued a challenge on your station last night to check your children’s rooms on a routine basis.”

Banks was referring to an interview he gave WLBT Thursday following that day’s shootings. Among them, a 12-year-old boy was killed in a drive-by shooting in the 1900 block of Ventura Drive.

The boy, identified as Adrian McDougles, was taken to Merit Health, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The councilman said he’s going to fight for the measure to be passed, regardless of any pushback. “To me, it doesn’t matter... because something has to be done,” he said. “Parents are responsible for their teens. The responsibility lies with them.”

“The ACLU has to understand that we have a crime crisis, and the majority of crimes at this point are being committed by teens with guns,” Banks said. “We are in the summertime. School is out, so we have to do something before there’s an uptick.”

Officials with the ACLU of Mississippi were not immediately available for comment.

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