Prosecutors urge charge be upheld against Danville’s police chief
SALEM — Prosecutors are defending their decision to level a firearms charge against Danville Police Chief Wade Parsons and have asked a judge to deny the chief’s attempt to have the case dropped.
Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Terri Harrington last week filed an objection to a recent motion by Parsons’ attorney that seeks to have the charge dismissed.
Parsons faces a negligent storage of firearms charge after he was accused of leaving his loaded .40-caliber handgun under clothing in a closet inside his Danville home on March 11, 2013. His girlfriend’s son, 15-year-old Jacob Carver, grabbed the gun while he was home alone and committed suicide.
At issue is whether the law used to bring the violation-level offense applies in this case.
Parsons’ lawyer, Alan Cronheim of Sisti Law Offices, argues the law refers only to a minor under age 16 accessing a firearm and using it in a reckless or negligent manner and doesn’t apply to suicides. He said Parsons can’t be held liable because in this case the gun was “purposefully” used to commit suicide and that it was neither reckless nor negligent.
In her objection filed in the Salem Circuit Court, Harrington said it doesn’t matter what the child’s state of mind was when he obtained an unsecured, loaded firearm.
“It only matters that an improperly secured firearm was fired by someone under the proscribed age,” she wrote.
Harrington added that if the court finds that Jacob discharged the firearm “purposely” in a case of suicide, then he also acted “knowingly” and “recklessly.”
“To assert that this statute is only meant to apply to accidents by relying on the language ‘said firearm was negligently or recklessly discharged’ is to turn common sense on its head. This is a child safety law. New Hampshire seeks to protect children from access to firearms. New Hampshire seeks to protect children from gun accidents, suicides and mass shootings. To state otherwise is to ignore a horrifying and growing reality in this country that children are gaining access to loaded guns. They are not just falling prey to accidents alone, but are able to wreak havoc on themselves and the general public,” Harrington wrote.
Harrington also included testimony from state senators who sponsored the bill that led to the law, RSA 650-C:1, and spoke about how it was designed to keep children safe and make gun owners more responsible.
“Nothing in these comments stands for the proposition that this legislation is intended to protect children from accidental discharges alone,” Harrington wrote.
She also chastised Parsons for his “extremely poor judgment” in leaving the gun unlocked.
“Defendant was aware that J.C. would be home, even if he, defendant, was not. J.C. had a bedroom in the home and was expected home later in the day. Knowing this, he left a loaded and fully operable .40-caliber handgun where it could be found and used. He placed it ‘under clothing’ in his closet, hardly a best practice while a 15-year-old boy is staying in the home. It is not ‘hypothetical or speculative’ that a 15-year-old boy would be curious about a service revolver,” she wrote.
Harrington also pointed out that Parsons is a law enforcement officer who “knows full well the dangerous implications of leaving a service weapon unsecured while he was not inside his residence.”
A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 8:15 a.m. in the Salem Circuit Court.