Firearm accidents involving children occur far too often in the U.S. In New Jersey, dozens of children suffer severe or fatal injuries every year after gaining access to unsecured firearms. Like many other states, New Jersey has imposed child access prevention laws to keep guns out of children’s hands – laws that have come into the public eye as the result of recent tragic events.
What Are Child Access Prevention Laws?
Child access prevention (CAP) laws exist to prevent children from accessing firearms and reduce the number of accidental shootings, homicides, and suicides involving children. These laws require gun owners to take certain measures to store their firearms safely and keep them away from children.
Does NJ Have Child Access Prevention Laws?
Yes. Under New Jersey law, anyone – not just parents – who knows or reasonably should know that a child could access a loaded firearm on their property could face criminal charges if a child does so. However, gun owners can avoid criminal liability if they take one or more of the following steps:
- Storing the firearm in a secure lock box or container
- Storing the firearm in a location that a reasonable person would consider secure
- Securing the firearm with a trigger lock
Are Parents Liable for Child’s Gun Violence?
In some cases, yes, parents could face civil liability for gun violence their children commit. Parental liability in New Jersey varies depending on the facts of the case. For instance, a parent could be liable for the harm their child causes using a firearm if:
- The parent was negligent in supervising their child. For instance, if the parent knew the child tends to be violent but failed to take steps to keep them away from firearms.
- The parent failed to properly contain, secure, or lock their firearm in a place where they knew or reasonably should have known their child could access it.
- The parent knew or reasonably should have known about their child’s acts of gun violence and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.
In addition, parents in New Jersey could face criminal liability under CAP laws if their child accesses a firearm that wasn’t stored in a locked container.
The Effects of Child-Access Prevention Laws
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, CAP laws have led to:
- Fewer accidental gun injuries and deaths involving children
- Increased awareness about gun safety for children and parents
- Criminal penalties for gun owners who are careless with gun safety
- Controversy among gun owners concerned with Second Amendment rights
Safe Storage Guidelines for Firearms
As a firearm owner, you should always follow these safe storage guidelines to prevent unauthorized gun access and subsequent injuries:
- Always keep guns unloaded when not in use.
- Store guns in a locked safe or cabinet when not in use.
- Use trigger locks and other devices to prevent accidental discharge.
- Store ammunition separately from firearms.
- Keep keys and combinations out of children’s reach.
- Teach children about the importance of gun safety.
Talk to a New Jersey Weapons Charges Lawyer
Violating child access prevention laws is a disorderly persons offense that can carry serious repercussions. If you’re facing weapons charges in New Jersey, contact William Proetta Criminal Law immediately. We can answer your questions and explain your rights during a free initial consultation.