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Dealers on trial.

Culpable negligence. These two words mean a great deal in the law, especially in today's world. They can strike fear in the hearts of gun owners and those who sell firearms. Dealers should know their state and local laws on culpable negligence and how they affect their businesses. They should pay particular attention to the statutes concerning safe storage of firearms and ammunition.

It would be wise for dealers to inform their customers of culpable negligence laws and other such statutes like California's Childrens' Firearm Protection Act. This information is important, even if a customer doesn't have children living in their home.

In one case before the courts, a visiting minor wandered into the master bedroom, took a loaded .38 revolver from an unlocked dresser drawer and returned to the living room to show it to other boys. As the revolver was passed around, it fired. The boy holding the gun at the time claimed "... it just went off." The bullet struck one of the boys. He later died.

The owner of the gun is facing criminal negligence charges because he left a loaded firearm unsecured in his home.

In the majority of the states, criminal negligence, as it pertains to storing or leaving a loaded gun within easy reach or access of a minor who uses it to shoot someone, is punishable as a third-degree felony.

However, in some cases gun owners would not face such charges. These would include situations where the firearm is stored or left in a securely locked container, or in a location which a reasonable person would believe it to be secure, or if it is secured with a trigger lock. State or local attorney offices, after evaluating all the evidence in these types of accidental shooting cases, normally have the authority to take whatever action is deemed appropriate.

Unfortunately, some states are a bit vague concerning the phrase "within the reach or easy access." Depending on the age of the children, easy access may be the top of a bedroom dresser. However, for children who can't see the top of the dresser, is that easy access.'? In one case, two young boys moved a heavy credenza to get at a loaded revolver. Following an accidental shooting, no charges were brought against the homeowner, because it was determined that the handgun was not in "easy access."

In another case, a 10-year-old accidentally shot himself in the chest as he was handing a World War II handgun to his father. The court sentenced the father to one year probation for leaving the loaded firearm within easy reach of his son. He could have been sentenced to five years in prison for felony gross negligence.

As discussed by several writers in Shooting Industry, dealers should show their customers several security and storage products. In addition to increasing a dealer's sales, it goes a long way in reducing the chances of accidents, and provides evidence that the dealer took extra steps to increase firearms safety. Dealers should also tell customers where they can get additional information on the various laws concerning the keeping of firearms.
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Title Annotation:firearms industry
Author:Wenner, Joan
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1995
Words:518
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