Can You Be “Charged” if Your Children Misuse Your Guns?

One question that comes up from time to time is what are the consequences to a family if  a minor living in the house uses one of the family’s firearms…with or without permission and shoot someone, intentionally or by accident? I get asked this question and unfortunately the answer isn’t as black and white as you might think. But it’s an issue that creates anxiety for gun owners.

If you have minor children and firearms in the home, consult with a “gun law attorney” to clarify the city, county, and state laws in your jurisdiction so you can understand your and manage the risks.

An article in the Portland Tribune brought to mind potential issues that can arise with minors and firearms in the home. The article, “Judge hears challenge to county gun control laws,” dealt with many complex legal issues, the part that caught my attention read:

“No mention was made during the trial of the June 10 fatal shooting at Reynolds High School, but it’s possible that the Multnomah County district attorney could, under the county gun ordinance, charge the family of shooter Jared Padgett, 15, if the investigation reveals the guns were not fully secured. Padgett killed himself after fatally shooting classmate Emilio Hoffman, 14, and wounding teacher Todd Rispler.”

This was a tragic incident and two kids lost their lives. But the loss for the Padgett’s family will continue well beyond this incident, especially if the prosecutor charges the parents or others in the house with a crime. While the event has already changed their lives forever, it could wreak havoc on an already injured family well into the future.

If this issue concerns you and you have minors in your home, schedule a time to meet with me to discuss applicable law and a plan to limit your risk and liability. You take extra precautions securing your firearms and in having your minors go through a structured gun safety training course. And your children should never be allowed to handle a firearm without you or a responsible and trained adult present and in control. This might sound like common sense to many of you…and it is…but it usually gets ignored and bad events happen. Many of these can be prevented with proper planning, education, and responsibility.

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