A new video posted online by a California-based anti-gun group has prompted criticism from both gun control advocates and gun rights proponents for encouraging criminal activity by a minor.
The public service announcement produced by San Francisco-based Sleeper 13 shows a school-aged boy taking a handgun from his mother’s bedroom drawer, putting it in his book bag, taking it to school and turning it over to a teacher at the end of class, explaining “Can you take this away? I do not feel safe with a gun in my house.”
“The series of crimes depicted in this video is simply astonishing,” said Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb, according to Guns.com. “We’re talking about felony theft of a firearm, illegal possession of a handgun by a minor, having a gun in a school, illegal concealed carry by a minor, brandishing and maybe one or two other crimes, depending upon the jurisdiction.”
The PSA has gun control advocates worried that director Rejina Sincic could be encouraging several felonies and might be liable for crimes committed in the video’s name. But Washington Post legal analyst Eugene Volokh says the law is on Sincic’s side.
There isn’t “likely to be any claim on a theory that this ad negligently promoted ‘copycat’ activity, even if someone emulates the protagonist’s behavior and someone is injured as a result,” Volokh wrote. “There have been several lawsuits over the past few decades claiming that some TV program or movie led some viewers — including child viewers — to copy what was being done, and those lawsuits have all been thrown out (whether on First Amendment grounds or on tort law grounds).”
But well-known gun writer Bob Owens told Sincic on her Twitter page that the PSA could lead to serious injury or death.
@QueenSincic You're encouraging a minimum of four felonies, and the significant risk of a negligent discharge hurting or killing someone.
— Bob Owens (@bob_owens) December 21, 2014