A number of highly publicized tragedies have brought the dangers of allowing children access to firearms to the public’s attention. Yet, many adults continue to fail to take important safety precautions to protect children from firearm injuries. Between 2000 and 2005 alone, approximately three children were killed every day in gun-related accidents or suicides.
Child firearm-injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino is deeply concerned about children’s safety around firearms. If your child has sustained a firearm injury as the result of someone’s negligence, contact attorney Killino at 877-875-2927 for compassionate and expert assistance in obtaining justice from those responsible.
Causes of Firearm Injuries Involving Minors
A large percentage of firearm tragedies involving children result from the negligent or reckless storage of firearms by adults. The American Academy or Pediatrics (AAP) is committed to reducing the incidence of firearm injuries caused and sustained by children, and educating adults about proper gun storage is among the Academy’s most vigorous endeavors.
According to an estimate by the U.S. General Accounting Office, 31% of accidental deaths from firearms might have been prevented by the addition of child-safety locks and loading indicators.
Firearm Injuries and Legal Action
Firearms are regulated to some extent under both federal and state law, though state statutes govern most aspects of firearm regulation.
- Age Requirements
Under federal law, individuals must be at least 18 years old to legally purchase a rifle or rifle ammunition and at least 21 years old to purchase another type of firearm or its ammunition.
- School-zone Restrictions
Federal law also prohibits the carrying or use of firearms within school zones.
- Storage and Access Requirements
Federal law does not include Child Access Prevention Laws. Nor does it require owners to safely store their firearms. If lawful firearm owners choose to utilize secure storage facilities and safety devices, however, federal law relieves those owners of liability under some circumstances for injuries caused by the criminal and unauthorized use of such firearms by a third party.
In addition, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (U.S. Code Chapter 105) prohibits the sale or transfer of handguns by licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers unless the buyer or transferee is provided with a “secure gun storage or safety device.” The Act does not apply to private sellers, however.
Most states have Child Access Prevention (CAP) Laws, which hold adults who give children unsupervised access to guns criminally liable. As of August 2013, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia had enacted CAP laws. Yet, studies reveal that 1 in 3 handguns are kept loaded and within easy access of children, most of whom know the handgun’s location.
CAP laws vary significantly from state to state, so that the jurisdiction in which you live and file a civil claim may affect certain aspects of your case. Some states’ CAP laws hold a gun-owner criminally liable if the owner negligently stores a handgun and a minor gains access to it, while others only impose criminal liability on owners who intentionally provide minors with firearms.
Civil Liability for Injuries Caused by Firearms
If your child has been injured by a firearm due to negligent firearm storage or other negligence, you may be able to bring a civil action against those responsible to recover damages in compensation for your child’s injuries. Many states have specific laws that impose civil liability on adults who fail to properly store firearms.
- CAP Violations as Evidence of Negligence
If a gun-owner has violated a state’s CAP law by negligently storing a gun or intentionally providing it to a minor, a court may consider the owner’s CAP violation evidence of negligence in a civil action for injuries suffered by your child in an incident involving that particular firearm.
- Absence of CAP Law or CAP Violation
Even when a CAP law has not been violated by a gun-owner, such an owner may be held liable in an action for negligence if the gun-owner did not take the steps a reasonably prudent person would have taken under the same or similar circumstances to prevent a minor’s access to a gun that later causes your child harm.
Courts have considered the following to be among actions constituting negligence in such civil actions:
- Selling or giving a firearm to a minor
- Carrying a firearm onto a school campus
- Failing to keep firearms safely locked up
- Failing to exercise proper caution when hunting or target shooting near children
- Strict Liability for Negligent Storage
At least one state holds an adult strictly liable for injuries caused by a minor’s use of a firearm, if the child gained access to the firearm as a result of the adult’s inadequate storage.
If your child has been injured in a firearm incident as a result of someone’s negligence, contact child firearm-injury attorney Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for knowledgeable and compassionate assistance in obtaining the compensation and justice you deserve.