HB 136: Criminalizing a Minor’s Access to Firearms
This bill failed in the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 3-7.
There are many instances in which minors have used a firearm in self-defense. Unfortunately, these examples would be subject to criminal prosecution in the future under new legislation that has been introduced.
House Bill 136, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Weight, would make it a class B misdemeanor to store a loaded firearm in a place accessible by a minor unless the firearm is securely encased, rendered inoperable through a safety lock, or readily accessible for immediate use by the firearm owner. A similar bill was killed in committee last year.
The responsible use of firearms, and their storage in the home, is an important consideration for anybody wishing to acquire this dangerous weapon. But there are a number of other dangerous weapons which minors might access, and firearms need not be singled out; it is unreasonable to criminalize firearm accessibility, for example, while leaving knife accessibility unregulated.
Further, even if parents locked up the weapon, the bill would possibly allow prosecution of parents if they tell their children how to access a gun safe — because if the children can access it, it’s not really “secure.” And if the bill does permit such situations, it would render the entire bill useless if minors know how to circumvent the secure encasement of the firearm whenever they want.
Responsible education is key, as is public policy that treats dangerous weapons consistently as opposed to singling out a single type, in this case firearms.