Teen charged with serious firearms offences in Perth
A 15-year-old boy accused of firing three shots at a school north of Perth, has been granted bail. But he won’t be going home.
According to news reports, the boy is alleged to have used two rifles to shoot three rounds at the school from a car park while he was inside a vehicle, forcing the school into lockdown.
The two rifles and ammunition that the boy had allegedly used were licensed to the boy’s father. There was no suggestion that the boy's father had failed to properly store the firearms. Rather the court was told that the boy had taken the firearms after finding the keys to a secure cabinet.
Bail granted bail to reside at youth hostel under strict supervision
News reports say that at the bail hearing the court granted bail after being satisfied that the boy did not pose a risk to the community or to himself. In granting bail, the court highlighted that if the boy remained in custody at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, the continued lockdowns and lack of access to educational programs at the facility were likely to have an impact on his mental health.
While bail was granted the boy was not ordered to be released into the custody of his parents because of concerns they may not be able to control him. Instead, he was ordered to reside at a ‘youth hostel’ where he will be under strict supervision and be unable to leave.
What is a “Youth Hostel”
Youth hostels, in this context, provide appropriate accommodation to juveniles who are granted bail while their matter proceeds through the criminal justice system.
Youth hostels provide a less formal custodial setting than a juvenile detention centre. While the juvenile is held under strict supervision they are also able to maintain close family and community links and also have access to community support services and special programs.
The prosecution of firearms charges
Having regard to the allegations the boy could potentially be charged with an additional offence of doing an act which endangers the life, health or safety of a person under section 304 of the Criminal Code, an offence which carries stiff penalties under the Criminal Code.
The boy’s alleged actions have reignited the debate about violence in schools, the safety of young people within the school setting, as well as the recent increase in violent youth crime across the state. Both are of serious concern to the wider community.
Firearms laws and ownership reform is on the agenda
Gun laws are now again in the spotlight, with the State Government promising to implement reforms later this year. Details of these reforms are not clear, but they’re mooted to be aimed at reducing the number of firearms in Western Australia, and tightening the legitimate reasons for gun ownership.
Australia already has arguably the toughest firearm laws in the world, implemented in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 at Port Arthur, when Martin Bryant, killed 35 people and wounded 23 others.
It is one of the reasons why incidents such as this send shock waves through the community. They’re not something that you would expect to occur in Australia.
By contrast, already this year in the US, there have been about 25 mass shootings resulting in injuries or deaths, and a significant number of these have occurred at schools.
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