It's your Second Amendment right to purchase a gun (so long as you aren't disqualified) but that doesn't prohibit laws on safe gun storage.
While not all states require guns to be locked up at home, the majority of them do. Some states also punish adults when children get their hands on improperly secured firearms and cause harm.
These laws don't just apply to parents. If people under 16 ever come into your home - friends, family, or neighbors - they apply to you too.
27 states currently have some laws mandating gun storage, according to The News Tribune. In general, there are three kinds of gun storage laws, any of all of which may exist in your state.
The first is laws mandating gun storage. These laws require adults who own guns to secure them if there is any chance a minor could get their hands on the gun without parental permission.
'Minor' generally means people who are under age 16 or 18, depending on state law.
If a minor could get your gun without permission, even if they never have or haven't caused any damage, you can still be liable under this kind of statute.
The way most people get caught is law enforcement sees the guns outside a safe or locked cabinet. But if they do, it can be a problem.
The second kind of law is one that makes it a crime for an adult to leave their gun unsecured if a minor gets hold of the gun and injures or kills herself or someone else.
These laws only punish people who leave their guns unsecured. It doesn't apply to situations where the storage lock is forced or otherwise tampered with.
These laws often have an exception for situations where a gun is stolen as part of a burglary. If the gun is stolen during a break-in and then ends up in the hands of a minor who uses it poorly, it does not matter whether the gun was secure; the owner is not at fault.
The third type of law allows a gun owner to be civilly liable for injuries caused by a minor who obtained an unsecured gun and used it to cause injury. The victim of that injury could sue the gun owner for damages because they failed to secure the gun appropriately.
These gun storage laws don't apply in every state but they might affect you. Check your local laws because breaking gun laws may jeopardize your Second Amendment rights.
- Second Amendment (FindLaw)
- Massachusetts High Court Upholds Law Requiring Gun Locks (FindLaw's Decided)
- Guns in Bars: Arizona Opens the Door (FindLaw's Blotter)