Keep Deadly Weapons Out of Children’s Hands

Target: Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senate Majority Leader

Goal: Support child access protection and gun storage laws at the national level.

When a six-year-old reportedly shot his elementary school teacher in the middle of class, the community of Newport News, Virginia—and communities across the country—were in shock. Questions and speculation soon emerged about how this child could have accessed a firearm and had the ability to shoot it. While the exact details of the case are still under investigation, this disturbing incident highlights a critical and dangerous gap in the legal system.

The child at the center of this case, who is now receiving medical evaluation, is believed to have gotten the gun apparently used in the shooting from a high shelf in his mother’s closet. While neither parent has of yet been charged, they could face liability if they are found to have been negligent in securing and safely storing the gun. Child access protection (CAP) laws enacted in several states make it a crime for a parent or another adult to fail in taking proper precautions when a firearm and a child are in the same residence. Under such laws, school officials who allegedly had knowledge that the child was in possession of a firearm could face accountability as well.

The problem lies in what form this accountability takes. In Virginia, state laws would only make any reported negligence in the parents’ case a misdemeanor, despite the fact that the teacher had critical injuries. Many states have weak standards that only apply if the parent or adult knowingly gives a child a firearm or that only apply if the weapon is a handgun. Less than 20 states invoke criminal liability in such cases with associated strong penalties, and some states have no child access protection laws at all.

Meanwhile, close to five million children are estimated to live in a household with negligent firearm storage. Sign the petition below to demand a uniform and unified child access protection standard for the entire nation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Schumer,

Over 30 million children live in a residence with a firearm, and millions of these children have easy access to these weapons because of negligent storage. Because states cannot seem to agree on what constitutes negligent storage or what firearms even require safe storage, this dangerous trend will not change. And so we have shocking but not entirely unexpected headlines about a first grader allegedly shooting his teacher.

This country owes its youngest citizens protection and security. What kind of message is sent when a child who has no rationale to even understand his actions easily gets a gun and tragedy ensues, either in the form of suicide or harm against another person? And what kind of message comes from not holding any of the adults who cared for this child legally accountable?

Child access prevention laws and gun storage laws should not be a state issue because every child deserves this measure of safety, regardless of where they live. Study after study bears out that these laws do have a meaningful impact and they do save lives. Introduce and support a federal CAP law, together with stronger storage standards, and make a pledge of protection for all youth.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Soncahi Kongkarmsri


One Comment

  1. Linda Hilty-Tuttle says:

    I doubt Schumer will care, but I signed!

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