Mike Stuckey reports on a Washington State hunting accident that killed 54-year-old Pamela Almli when an unsupervised youth hunter for msnbc.com mistook her for a bear. The horrific accident “highlighted issues about hunting on public land in Washington that were news to some state residents. First, hunting in close proximity to hikers was perfectly legal. Second, there was no requirement for trailhead signs to warn hikers like Almli that there were hunters in the area,” and third, while the youth hunter “was not old enough to have driven himself to the traihead, in Washington state there is no minimum age for hunting without adult supervision as [the 14-year-old hunter] was doing that day with his 16-year-old brother.”
Washington State is not alone in its lack of age requirements as a total of 21 states allow children to hunt alone at age 12 or younger, even though federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing a rifle or shotgun. Proponents of the current regulations argue that the age at which children can hunt alone should be up to their parents.
As a personal injury lawyer I advocate for minimum age requirements for hunting without adult supervision. Gun control laws are in place for a reason, and allowing a minor to hunt without adult supervision seems to contradict those laws. Furthermore, it is well known that children are developing judgment skills well into their teenage years and usually into adulthood. Allowing a child who lacks fully developed judgment skills to hunt unsupervised is asking for an accident just like the one that unfortunately occurred in Washington State.