Every responsible gun owner knows they have a responsibility to maintain and properly store their firearms. But what you may not know is you have a legal responsibility to ensure minors and felons cannot get their hands on them. Watch Independent Program Attorney Kassidy Montgomery explain the law and the potential liability you could face if a child or felon gets their hands on a gun.
Kassidy Montgomery: Now that hunting season is coming to a close it’s almost time to put away your shotguns and rifles for a few months. We may all know the basics of gun safety, but what does the law say about storing our firearms in Texas?
There are very few laws dictating how to store firearms. First, children under Texas Penal Code section 46.13 it is a misdemeanor if a child gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm, and with criminal negligence, you fail to secure the firearm or left the firearm somewhere that you knew or should have known that the child would gain access. There are a lot of pieces to this statute so let’s break it down.
First, under this statute, a child is any person under 17 years of age, so it only applies if your children are 16 years old or younger. Next, readily dischargeable means a firearm that is loaded with the ammunition whether or not a round is in the chamber. So, keeping your firearms unloaded is a great first step to not violating the statute. Finally, the statute requires that you secure the firearm. This simply means you must take steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent a child from accessing the firearm.
So, what are those reasonable steps? You could secure it in a locking gun case or safe. You could enable a trigger lock or if your children are young enough you could simply secure it in a case at the top of your closet. Unless your child discharges the firearm and causes death or serious bodily injury making your firearm accessible to a child is a Class C misdemeanor. Moving on to the next group of people, individuals convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor of family violence. While it’s not a crime on your part if you fail to make your firearm inaccessible to someone convicted of one of these crimes. It is an offense for one of these individuals to possess a firearm.
Texas Penal Code section 40 6.04 draws a big exception to this rule. Under this statute, a person who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime of family violence may be in possession of a firearm in his or her own home once it has been five years from his or her release from confinement or community supervision. Keep in mind this is Texas law. Under federal law, a person convicted of a felony or a crime of family violence is never allowed to own or possess firearms or ammunition.
So practically speaking what does all of this mean? However, you choose to store your firearms be sure that only adults who can legally possess guns have access. Use your common sense when storing your firearms to ensure the safety of you and your family.