2019 Bills

HB 87: Criminalizing a Minor’s Access to Firearms

This bill died in committee. 

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and should be opposed.

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 87, 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.

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.

While the bill allows minors to possess a firearm when they have “the permission of his parent or guardian to have the weapon,” this would still criminalize the parents for not having securely encased it.

Further, even if they 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.