There is a recent uptick on the part of Los Angeles City Attorney’s office in prosecuting parents who do not secure their firearms away from children under 18. Recently, two parents were charged when police found firearms not secured in a locked gun case, but rather in a bag on a high shelf in a closet. Another case involved a firearm in a bag wedged behind a heavy dresser. The police found these firearms after the parents’ children allegedly made threats at their school and the police searched the family home.
Make no mistake, the penalties for this are severe. If a child finds an unsecured gun and causes death or injury, then the parents can be charged with a felony. Punishments get less severe from there, scaling all the way down to a misdemeanor. It’s important that parents understand their rights as responsible firearms owners.
Is It Against the Law to Not Lock up Your Firearms at Home?
Here’s the thing. No California law requires people to lock up their firearms in their own home. While locking up firearms will prevent this charge from being filed against parents, it’s not what the laws say. Keep in mind, it is certainly common sense, and I advise everyone to do so. The issue is whether a minor has access to a firearm and reasonable steps have been taken to prevent the access.
To further complicate things, generally speaking, minors in California are allowed to possess firearms for a lawful purpose as long as there is parental permission. Laws are even looser once a minor is 16 or older. These are complex fact-based questions. These are not bright-line legal issues.
What we do know is that the Los Angeles City Attorney, never shy about grabbing headlines in an effort to remain politically relevant, will gleefully file these cases. These are otherwise weak misdemeanor cases that are being taken on in order to generate headlines and make a point. Defense lawyers should analyze these cases carefully and fight them appropriately.
Where Does This Leave Us With Firearms Charges?
Whatever the outcome, both gun control activists and gun control opponents will dig in their heels with their own spin of “I told you so,” and we’ll end up getting nowhere. I am all for sensible gun control. But, this is not how to do gun control. This is not effective deterrence. There are other less invasive ways to remove firearms from this situation without publicly flailing a family in crisis and inflaming both sides of the issue.
Reach Out to Our Offices for Assistance With Weapons Related Charges
If you or a loved one are facing firearms charges in California or any other criminal offense, contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or via this secure contact form for a confidential consultation.