The national gun-control advocacy group, Brady Campaign has criticized Washington for not having laws that prevent child access to firearms or require trigger locks for guns. Amina Kocer-Bowman's parents have the right to sue the Bremerton School District, but beyond restitution the goal should be preventing child access to firearms

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It should not come as a surprise that parents of the 9-year-old girl accidentally shot by a classmate in a Bremerton school are suing the district for $10 million.

Amina almost died. She was hospitalized for six weeks, enduring five surgeries. Her ongoing recovery will eat up medical dollars the family likely doesn’t have.

But are they right to target the Bremerton School District? The suit alleges school officials failed to grasp the potential danger posed by the troubled boy who bragged to friends about bringing a gun to school.

The Bowman’s attorney talked to Times reporter Christine Clarridge and outlined their case, saying: “Despite a judicial finding that the (boy’s) parents were unfit, they were allowed to raise their children, including the boy with the gun. They were present constantly and they were the example that the child followed. We have brought suit against them because they entrusted firearms to a child and also let this child believe that the .45 caliber handgun is approporiate protection against bullying at the school.”

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The Bowman’s are also suing the boy’s family, including his father, mother, the mother’s boyfriend and an uncle who stepped into to help after the shooting. The boy, who is not being named because he’s a minor, wrote a letter of apology to the girl. His mother and her boyfriend faced criminal charges. That’s accountability, but clearly the Bowmans do not think it is enough.

People have the freedom to sue. Going beyond Amina, what might have prevented this tragedy was safe gun storage. Trigger lock laws, for example. A Times editorial argued in the days after the shooting that guns are already banned at school.

In the latest ratings by the Brady Campaign, a national gun-control-advocacy group, Washington scored no points in the child-safety category because the state does not require trigger locks for guns or have laws preventing child access to firearms.

Regardless of whether Bremerton fights this case or starts writing a check, state lawmakers ought to think about the next Amina and pass a safe gun storage law.

(Photo: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

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