Accidental Shooting Puts Spotlight on Seattle Child Visitation Laws

Posted on Apr 05, 2012
On February 22, 2012, a 9-year-old boy brought a loaded gun to an elementary school in Bremerton, Washington. When he put his backpack down on his desk, the firearm discharged, shooting 8-year-old classmate Amina Bowman in the abdomen. The girl is still in serious condition at a local hospital weeks after the incident. 

While the boy’s biological mother, Jamie Lee Passmore and Douglas Bauer, her boyfriend, face charges related to the unlawful possession of firearms, the child was sentenced to probation and counseling. Bowman’s father, however, thinks that Washington child custody laws and child visitation laws are partially to blame. The boy’s biological parents both gave up custody of the child, who was legally raised by his grandmother until her death in 2010. Since then, his uncle has had legal custody. However, his uncle allowed him to see his mother after the state decided she wasn’t a fit mother due to drug abuse issues and her criminal record.

Police found two other loaded, unsecured guns at the mother’s home after the shooting.

Washington’s Health and Human Services department explained that they do not oversee legal guardians – unless there is a report of abuse, only the guardian determines who the child spends time with. After the adoption, they explained, the uncle alone was responsible for making sure the child was in a safe environment.

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