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Child Access Protection Laws

Some states have laws which hold parents liable when children gain access to a firearms. At least nine states hold adults criminally responsible for storing a loaded firearm in such a way as to allow a minor to gain access. Some of these provisions include an enhanced penalty if the minor causes injury or death and create exceptions for parental liability when the minor gains access to a weapon by unlawful entry into the home or place of storage or if the firearm is used in self-defense. In addition, several states have provisions that create criminal liability when a custodial adult or parent is aware that his or her child possesses a firearm unlawfully and does not take it away. A number of jurisdictions have enacted laws making it a crime to leave a loaded firearm where it is accessible by children. Typically, these laws apply, and parents can be charged, only if the minor gains access to the gun. There are usually exceptions if the firearm is stored in a locked box, secured with a trigger lock, or obtained by a minor through unlawful entry. In most states, the penalty for unlawful access is a misdemeanor unless the minor injures someone else, in which case the parent can be charged with a felony.

Inside Child Access Protection Laws