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James Crumbley turns to look for family members after it was announced they were present in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews on Wednesday, March, 13, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. Crumbley is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to secure a gun at home and ignoring his son's mental health. Ethan Crumbley killed four students at Oxford High School in 2021. Jury deliberations are set to resume Thursday. // Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool

PI Perspective: Michigan jurors get it right by convicting parents of school shooter

The parents of a Michigan school shooter were both found guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of their son’s victims in a 2021 school shooting. Let’s hope their fates deter other gun-obsessed parents from passing along this potentially fatal condition.


By Carmen Gentile

I never thought this would happen in America: Parents of a deadly school shooter who fostered their son’s obsession with guns, were recently found guilty in connection with their child’s abhorrent crimes.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were each tried by a jury of their peers in Michigan — where affinity for guns runs deep — and both were found guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the victims of their then-teenage son, Ethan.

Now, I’ve caught some grief for supporting and praising these verdicts, mostly in the comments section of Postindustrial’s YouTube channel, where we discuss these cases quite a bit.

“The parents didn’t pull the trigger. This is a truly terrible thing. Not on board with this at all,” wrote one viewer.

“Raising a kid right sometimes doesn’t yield a good kid. The child has free will. Also if they know their parents can go to prison with them they’ll use this to really do some damage,” another noted.

Others, however, favored the jurors’ rulings in a state that has seen an unfair share of gun violence —  like the 2021 mass shooting by then 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, and last year’s killings at Michigan State.

In response to these unnecessary tragedies, Michigan lawmakers made the decision to pass several gun reform lawsthrough the Democratic-controlled legislature, including universal background checks and red-flag laws designed to keep weapons out of the wrong people’s hands.

While nationwide, universal background checks and red-flag laws would better prevent disturbed individuals from getting their hands on guns, it’s good to see some states take up the mantle of responsible gun laws.

Still, a dark shadow looms over the Crumbley verdicts that could put both Jennifer and James away for up to 15 years. And it’s that this is not an isolated incident of parents radicalizing children to share in their gun obsession with deadly consequences.

Kyle Rittenhouse was only 17 when he killed two people and wounded another during the 2020 racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. By some accounts, he was raised to adore guns, the police, and Trump.

There are countless Americans raising their children likewise, some of who even represent us in the U.S. Congress.

As one prominent gun control advocate noted regarding the sad truth of the Crumbley verdicts as it pertains to guns and parenting:

“Prosecuting the parents after a tragedy can only be seen as the byproduct of a culture that values guns over lives,” said Nina Vinik, founder and executive director of Project Unloaded.

“We must do more to spread the message that having guns around makes gun violence more likely, not less. We’ll all be safer when fewer people decide to have guns in the first place.”

I couldn’t agree more with Vinik’s assessment regarding guns and their ridiculous volume in America.  There are more than 120 firearms for every 100 residents in the United States, which means there are about 409 million firearms in American hands, not counting the military and law enforcement.

Just on its surface, does that sound like a reasonable amount of civilian firepower to be floating around the country with little real actionable oversight?

With more guns comes more gun violence, a downward spiral of doom fueled by Gun Obsessed Americans who simply cannot get enough firepower for fear of shadowy Deep State forces that will take away their guns, so they need more to defend what they already have.

It’s a perpetual firearms pyramid scheme of fear-based stupidity that keeps arms manufacturers insanely wealthy and too many Americans spending all their money on guns and related cosplaying, “tactical gear” to make the obviously insecure feel like real warriors.

We’ll keep producing the likes of Ethan Cumbley, Kyle Rittenhouse, and other gun-nut kids who commit mass murder, unless their parents wisen up and realize that all this paramilitary extremism and faux-patriotism they’re preaching while arming their kids is going to land them in prison, just like Ethan’s parents.

Carmen Gentile

Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets, including The New York Times, USA TODAY, CBS News, and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. Reach him at

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