An unusual Second Amendment case wrapped up in Washington state this month and it’s on track to land one legal gun owner in jail over a controversial set of circumstances. 64 year old Jeanne Tinker-Smith was convicted of supplying a gun to a person with a known criminal record who wound up being killed during a standoff and shootout with the police. That’s a very serious charge, obviously, but this one has something of a twist. The criminal in question was her son and it’s not at all obvious that she “provided” him with the weapon. (Fox News)

The jury in a criminal case has rejected a retired civil servant’s claim that she was a law-abiding gun owner who shouldn’t be held responsible for her son’s shootout with cops that left him dead.

The jury in Seattle Federal Court found Jeanne Tinker-Smith, 64, guilty Friday of helping her son possess firearms despite a felony conviction, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Cecil Chancy Tinker-Smith was killed after a four-hour standoff with sheriff’s deputies in 2014 in his mother’s home in Deming, Washington, near the Canadian border. The jury heard evidence that he exchanged gunfire with the deputies with a shotgun purchased by his mother. One deputy was injured when he was hit by shrapnel.

There doesn’t seem to be any argument that Cecil Chancy Tinker-Smith was the bad guy in this situation. He was seen firing a shotgun and frightening the neighbors and he definitely was disqualified from gun ownership due to his previous convictions on drug offenses. But the gun belonged to his mother. So did she “supply” him with a weapon or simply fail to properly secure it in a way which would prevent him from getting hold of it?

The details provided in the local news following the initial, lethal event in 2014 don’t give us a lot to work with. (Bellingham Herald)

An armed man was shot and killed by police, and a SWAT team member was wounded, in a long standoff that turned into a shootout Sunday, Nov. 16, at a house northeast of Deming.

A neighbor had contacted a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy on Sunday to report Cecil Chaney Tinker-Smith, 37, of 5765 Mosquito Lake Road, had been shooting off rounds “in a dangerous manner, and doing it in a way meant to intimidate” the neighbor, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo…

Law enforcement reached the home northeast of Deming around 2 p.m. Sunday to arrest Tinker-Smith for the warrants and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Once they rolled up to the house, however, they saw him running into a building and heard what sounded like a single gunshot, Elfo said. It remained unclear Monday if a shot had been fired into the air or aimed at deputies.

The younger Tinker-Smith was definitely in possession of a weapon and he had an established criminal record, thought not for violence or gun charges. It’s also alleged by the cops that Mrs. Tinker-Smith was not cooperative with the police and probably lied to them while giving statements as the standoff played out. That might indicated complicity with the son or simply a mother’s defensive reaction to protect her kid. All of that certainly looks bad, but it doesn’t get to the central issue here. How did Cecil wind up in possession of the shotgun which his mother had legally purchased? (The original local reporting misidentified it as a rifle.)

The mother followed all the rules for a legal weapons purchase and had fair reasons to want to own a shotgun. (Her attorney cites wildlife problems as well as recent crimes in the area.) If Cecil had shown up in some other part of town with the shotgun then we might infer that either she had given it to him or he had stolen it from her and she’d failed to report it. But all of this took place at the family home. With young children in the house, extra security precautions are definitely called for, but Cecil was an adult. If he knew his mother had a gun and was determined to get it, how much precautionary work is required of the mother before we reach the point of saying she “supplied” the gun to him? By this standard, anyone with a relative who has a criminal record could be essentially barred from gun ownership unless they forbid their family members from visiting them.

This is a dubious court result and deserves a closer look. Unless it can be proven that she freely offered the gun to her son, this represents a conviction of a lawful gun owner on an extremely serious charge for what could at most be described as negligence in locking down her weapon.

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