Teen’s Death by PA Lawmaker’s Gun Investigated

As the investigation continues into the death of a 14-year-old boy who died from a wound from the gun of a Republican legislator from Pennsylvania, the police have seized a computer and a safe from the senator’s home, reports the Associated Press.

The gun did not have a trigger lock, and Pennsylvania law does not require one.

The police have not yet released the results of ballistics tests that should show whether the boy, a neighbor who had been caring for Sen. Bob Regola’s dogs while he and his wife were away, shot himself on purpose, by accident, or was shot by someone else. The boy who was killed was reportedly close friends with Regola’s 16-year-old son,  who had spent the day at an amusement park and did not return home until 10 pm. The boy who died was last seen alive by his brother at 10:15 pm.

Mark Rush, Regola’s attorney, told the AP that he did not know if Regola’s son had seen the neighbor that night when he got home.

Police told the AP that Rush and Regola’s son’s attorney, Duke George, had cooperated at first but had denied recent requests for interviews with their clients. The lawyers said they had asked the police to submit questions directly to them.

George said he wouldn’t consent to another interview “because it’s gotten so adversarial. It’s gotten to the point now that I don’t know where they’re going with this. They’re looking to make something out of this whole scenario and I have to protect my client.”

Nobody has been charged in the death. The district attorney’s office said that if the lab work shows that the boy shot himself, charges would be filed only if there was an issue that Regola or somebody else was reckless in handling or storing the gun.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) sponsored a successful amendment to a federal spending bill that would defund a requirement that gun dealers provide trigger locks when selling hand guns. The fate of that amendment rests on the final agreement between the House and Senate on the spending bill. The state of Colorado has no trigger lock requirements.

[crossposted at www.muckrakingmom.com]

CLARIFICATION: In this story, I wrote that Sen. Bob Regola’s gun did not have a trigger lock, and that Pennsylvania law does not require one. While this is technically correct, it neglects to say that Pennsylvania law does require that trigger locks be provided when guns are sold. This law is actually quite similar to the federal law that Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) targeted in her amendment earlier this summer as described above. This makes the fact that Sen. Regola’s gun was not secured by a trigger lock even more disturbing. It also shows that the federal law on child safety locks is not as strong as it could be.

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About the Author

Nancy Watzman

is a Denver-based writer.

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