The Need to Prevent Youth Firearm Tragedies and the Legal Implications You Can Incur As a Result
For all the potential benefits that come with firearms, we all know that they can also have negative consequences as a result of accidents which can happen to anyone. However, some firearm accidents are more dangerous than others. Perhaps the most tragic of these accidents are those that involve the youngest of our loved ones. In addition to the terrible physical consequences that can result, some accidents can also carry criminal charges and penalties.
This means that in addition to dealing with the injury to or loss of a child, the family of a child who is tragically injured in a firearm accident can also face criminal liability under Florida law.
The Miami Herald recently reported that a 7-year-old boy is in intensive care after apparently being accidentally shot by his 3-year-old younger brother the day after Christmas in a firearm tragedy. The young brothers were playing with a loaded handgun at their Pahokee apartment when it went off and injured the older brother. The family of the boys reportedly do not know how they obtained the loaded gun. Although charges have not been filed against any family members at this point, deputies are continuing to investigate which leaves open the possibility of charges being filed in the future.
The silver lining to incidents like this one is that they are totally preventable. Anyone who owns a firearm should know what steps to undertake to help keep the smallest of your loved ones safe – and prevent criminal liability.
What is the Law in Florida?
Under Florida Statute 790.174, there are specific stipulations on how firearms can be stored in a home in which a minor under the age of 16 may access them. In many circumstances, firearms are required to be kept in a locked box when the owner knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to access them. The statute offers some exceptions, including when the adult responsible for the firearm had special permission from the parents of the minor.
The reasoning for this statute is made clear by statistics. One Harvard study reported that of those killed in firearm accidents, the number of unintentional firearm fatalities rose concurrently with unsafe storage practices.
What Safety Measures Should You Undertake to Help Keep Your Young Loved Ones Safe When You Obtain a Firearm?
- Store it in a locked box out of reach in a place they don’t frequent
- Keep the key to the storage box in a place separate from the box itself
- Have honest, age-appropriate discussions about the potential consequences
- Make sure everyone in the household is aware of the firearm and the measures you’ve taken to keep it secured
Are You or Someone You Love Facing Firearm-Related Charges?
If you are facing charges related to your firearm that has caused an injury to a minor, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former prosecutor with extensive criminal experience on both sides of the legal system, Donald C. Barrett, P.A. is the Tampa criminal defense attorney you want on your side. Schedule a consultation today.