New law imposes strict penalties on gun owners who store guns where children could access them
Last year, California passed a new law to designed to help prevent accidental child shooting deaths that occur when kids get hold of loaded weapons owned by their parents or other adults. The new law, known as the Firearm Safe and Responsible Access Act, places harsh penalties on adults who do not store their weapons properly. Individuals who knowingly store a loaded gun in a location where a child is likely to access it can face misdemeanor charges, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or up to six months in jail. It doesn’t matter whether or not a child actually does manage to access the gun—the mere fact that access is not only possible but likely is enough to trigger a penalty.
Safe Storage for Guns
Gun control advocates urge that weapons be stored unloaded and the bullets kept hidden in a separate location to prevent accidental child shootings. However, gun owners often feel that keeping their guns unloaded defeats the purpose of having a gun for self-defense. Using a gun safe can certainly provide a better way to store weapons so that they will be available to adults in an emergency yet inaccessible to children. Other options include a gun lock box or a trigger lock for the weapon. If these options are chosen, it is important to make sure the lock has a combination rather than a key, and ensure the combination is not something obvious that a minor could guess.
Gun Safe Requirements
You can’t just put your weapons in any old locked container and call it a gun safe. The State of California Department of Justice has strict requirements that a gun safe must meet. The easiest way to ensure your gun safe will meet these requirements is to buy a safe that is listed as an Underwriters Laboratories Residential Security Container. Underwriters Laboratory is a company that also rates safes for fire and theft resistance. As long as your weapon fits entirely in the safe, it should qualify.
If for some reason you are looking at a safe that has not been rated for residential security by Underwriters Laboratories, it will need to meet all of these requirements:
- Fully contains the firearms
- Has a mechanical or electronic combination lock with at least three digits and 10,000 possible combinations
- Has a case-hardened, drill-resistant plate around the lock
- Has at least three half-inch steel locking bolts operated by a separate handle
- Made from a minimum of 12-gauge thick steel for single walled safes
- Features interior door hinges so the door cannot be removed while the safe is shut
Meeting this requirements will not only prevent children from accessing the weapon, but also prevent theft and misuse by criminals. If you’d like help selecting a gun safe or a home safe for general use, stop by Curley’s Keyshop today.