Story by News Editor Ellie Youngs
Over the past several months, there have been multiple instances in which adults have been charged for allowing their firearms to be accessible to their young children. A man in North Carolina and a woman in Pennsylvania have both been charged after a six-year-old in both cases brought a gun to school. In January, a six year-old boy got ahold of a gun and brought it to school and proceeded to shoot his teacher in Newport Virginia.
In an unfortunate, yet more familiar case for Michigan, the 15-year-old sophomore who shot and killed four students at Oxford High School also obtained his weapon as a result of his parents’ failure to lock their gun away after a trip to the shooting range, and instead, they left it unlocked in their bedroom drawer. The parents of this shooter have also been arrested and charged, and they both face a maximum of 15 years on each count of involuntary manslaughter.
The occurrences in which minors have been able to obtain a firearm have increased, and it has sparked a growing concern from citizens throughout the country. Many feel that there are not enough laws in place that enforce safe gun keeping practices once a gun is purchased; and since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a significant increase in firearm purchases.
There are some initiatives put in place to curb this issue, such as the Child Access Prevention (CAP) Laws, however, they are only enforced in 29 states, and the liability that one may face due to these laws varies from state to state. In states such as Colorado, California and Massachusetts, a gun owner can face liability for having a weapon out where a child has any kind of access to it; in states such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, a firearm owner can face criminal charges in cases of “reckless provision” of a firearm to a child. In most states, however, violating CAP laws is a misdemeanor.
In the United States, an estimated five million minors reside in homes with an unlocked and unloaded firearm, according to data compiled in a study conducted by Harvard researchers. The instances in which minors have been able to obtain a firearm have increased, especially over the past three years, and citizens across the country are demanding that gun owners be held accountable for how they store their firearms.