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Toddlers and Your Guns

No parent wants to think that they may have to attend the funeral of their child. Most of us do not think of a toddler as a possible gun wielding threat. Yet, this is a reality. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, an average of one person a week was killed by a toddler who gained access to a firearm. Sometimes they shot a friend. Sometimes they shot a parent. Sometimes they shot themselves.

This is not a gun-safety blog, but let’s get real. I am a criminal-defense attorney living and practicing law in Texas. If you are reading this, you likely live in Texas. Even in Texas we have gun laws. Even in Texas, most of us cannot imagine the utter horror of hearing a gun go off in the bedroom and walking in to find a three-year old lying on the floor.

Every gun owner needs to be aware that making a readily dischargeable firearm accessible to child is a Class C misdemeanor. A child is anyone under the age of 17. A readily dischargeable firearm is a loaded gun. It is an affirmative defense (in other words the burden of proof is on you as the one who allowed the child to have access to the firearm) that the access (1) was supervised by a person who is over 18 years in age for hunting, sporting events, or other lawful purposes, (2) was while the child acted to defending themselves or their property, (3) was obtained by the child illegally entering the property, or (4) was while the actor engaged in an agricultural enterprise.

In other words, if a person under 17 years old gains access to one of your guns, you can be facing a fine of $500.00. And it is likely that you will be fined for each gun and each child. So you have a few firearms in your home and your son takes a couple of buddies into the closet and pulls them out and one of those weapons is loaded, you could be facing up to $1,500.00 in fines if you knew or should have known that those boys had access to that loaded gun.

The issue becomes much greater if that firearm is discharged and someone, anyone, gets hurt or dies. It is a Class A misdemeanor if the child discharged the weapon and caused a serious bodily injury or death. And it is not the child who is being charged, it is the person who granted access to the firearm, also known as you the gun-owner.

So one of those boys is hit by a bullet in your closet. Let us pray that the injuries are not life threatening. Still you have to look that parent in the eye. You have to live with the reality that a kid was shot in your home. Maybe it was your kid who was shot and another family has a child who is now traumatized because they pulled the trigger. Oh and you are now facing a fine of up to $4,000.00 and up to 1 year in the county jail.

Be sure to secure your firearms. Unload a weapon which is not in use. It is smart gun safety. It is protecting yourself and others from an accident which could put you in jail. If you need a defense attorney in Parker, Tarrant, or surrounding counties, contact me.

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