The following is a video transcript.
With the holidays right around the corner, many of us are either planning trips to see family or getting ready to host family at our homes. Whether traveling to see family or having family in your own home, it’s important to be a responsible gun owner. If you’re traveling out of the state, you must be aware of the gun laws in the state that you are visiting. If you are having family in your home, then it’s important to know your responsibilities under Florida law regarding storing your firearm with other family members present.
You are allowed to carry a firearm on your person while around someone under the age of 16; however, if a family member under the age of 16 is visiting, then when you are not carrying your firearm, you must have it secured either in a locked box or a container, or in a location where a reasonable person would believe it would be secure from a person under the age of 16, or secure it with a trigger lock.
If you do not properly store your firearm and your family member under the age of 16 gets access to your firearm without your permission and displays it in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner in public, then you could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. Furthermore, you could face felony charges for culpable negligence if your family member under the age of 16 uses your firearm to cause injury or death to himself or another person as a result of the improper storage of your firearm, and face up to five years in prison.
Besides facing criminal charges, you may also find yourself a defendant in a civil lawsuit for your negligent storage. Even if you are not having anyone under the age of 16 visiting you over the holidays, you still need to properly store your firearms and keep them out of the reach of family members who are either prohibited by law from possessing firearms, such as a convicted felon, or who should not have access to your firearms for various reasons such as mental state or even due to their drug usage or intoxication.
If your visiting family member is a convicted felon and has access to your firearm and possesses it, they could be charged with a crime. However, if that visiting convicted family member uses your firearm to commit a crime, you could find yourself subject to a civil lawsuit and possibly a culpable negligence charge. The same result could occur if you do not prevent access to your firearms by a family member who is not mentally stable or who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Always properly store your firearms and be cautious about who you let access or use your firearms.
If you have any questions regarding storing your firearms during the upcoming holiday season or any other firearm-related question, please give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.