Can You Be “Charged” if Your Children Use Your Guns?

Posted on: July 11th, 2014
One of the questions that comes up from time to time is what happens if there is a “minor” in the house and they use one of your firearms…with our without permission. What if they use a “registered” firearm or an NFA firearm or if they use it and end up shooting someone, intentionally or by accident? These are all great questions and certainly with great consequences.

The answers aren’t always simple or straightforward…definitely consult with a “gun law attorney” to get more clarification in your own city, county, and state. I get asked this question and unfortunately isn’t as black and white as we might think. But it’s an issue that certainly creates anxiety for gun owners. If you have minor children in the home, this is something I would highly recommend you seek out some more information on so you understand your risks and responsibilities.

This was brought to mind again when I saw an article out of the Portland Tribune in Portland, Oregon. The article, “Judge hears challenge to county gun control laws,” and while it is dealing with many very complex legal issues in the area, there was one part of the article that caught my attention, which is why I thought this would be a timely post for you to read.

The part that caught my attention was the following paragraph which I copied from the article…the area of bold is what I wanted to draw your attention to…
“No mention was made during the trial of the June 10 fatal shooting at Reynolds High School, but it's possible that the Multnomah County district attorney could, under the county gun ordinance, charge the family of shooter Jared Padgett, 15, if the investigation reveals the guns were not fully secured. Padgett killed himself after fatally shooting classmate Emilio Hoffman, 14, and wounding teacher Todd Rispler.”

This was a very unfortunate incident and two kids lost their lives. But the loss for the family of the shooter could continue well beyond this incident if they decide to charge the parents or others in the house with a crime because of their negligence. While it has already changed their lives forever, it could continue to wreak havoc on an already injured family.

If this is of concern to you and you have minors in your house, my recommendation is to schedule a time to meet with me to discuss your options and share some ideas on how to limit your risk and liability. I would also recommend you take extra precautions around securing your firearms and in having your minors go through a structured gun safety training course with a professional. And it probably goes without saying, but they should never be allowed to handle a firearm without the owner present and in control of the situation. I know this all might sound like common sense to many of you…and it is…but it usually gets ignored when bad situations happen. I believe many of these can be prevented with proper planning, education, and responsibility.
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