This law firm has been representing defendants for almost a quarter century. At many times young children, teenagers and especially adults are charged with gun crimes which have very harsh penalties, jail and prison associated with their use and misuse. When guns are used in the commission of a crime, there is added enhancements, strikes, and other dire consequences which this article is not primarily focused upon.
Here the focus is on responsible gun ownership and teaching children to respect guns and to follow safety precautions.
- Here is a way to talk to children about firearms especially since most children are naturally curious about things that they don’t quite understand or anything that may appear to be “forbidden.” Parents and particularly gun owners are encouraged to talk to their children about gun safety including the following rules:
- STOP! Please advise your children or any other child that you are the caregiver for that when they find or see a firearm they need to STOP what they are doing.
- DON’T TOUCH! Please caution your child or any other child to never touch a firearm that he/she finds or sees—Many gun owners will tell you that you should mind your business and they have the right to teach their children the proper gun protocol and rules and if that’s the case then you have done your job.
- LEAVE THE AREA! Please caution your child or any other child that they should leave the area where they discover or find a gun immediately; even if the child is trying to stop someone else from using the firearm they should leave first and get out of harm’s way.
- TELL OR ALERT A RESPONSIBLE ADULT! The child that you advise should immediately tell a responsible adult about the firearm that he/she has seen or discovered. (There is also another view that the child should tell or alert the authorities but sometimes the authorities are heavy handed and overreaching and the next minute a child can be expelled from school, arrested on the spot, detained or worse for merely finding a gun or weapon and/or touching it! This office is not comfortable advising anybody to contact law enforcement under these circumstances.)
- We advise parents to supervise the use of imitation firearms. In the case of imitation firearms, they should be marked accordingly with an orange band so that law enforcement does not mistakenly believe they are real for obvious reasons, i.e., theAndy Lopez case. Imitation firearms including non-powder and ball-bearing guns should only be used under the direct supervision of a responsible adult and should always be stored and carried in a carrying case or later in a secured safe. Imitation firearms can cause serious bodily injury and even death. Children should be educated about the dangers and consequences of the misuse of these firearms. Modification to imitation firearms, such as the removal of the orange tip from the firearm, are strongly discouraged as such modifications can often make the imitation firearm appear so real that law enforcement may act accordingly and shoot to kill. Again, i.e., Andy Lopez, a real case scenario in Santa Rosa, California.
- Please try to be a good role model for children— Always, actions speak louder than words and children learn most by observing the adults in their lives who they respect. Parents and gun owners need to set an excellent example by practicing what they preach and practicing safe gun handling and storage around their children- the same goes for hunters.
- Please educate yourself. It is recommended that you take the time to educate yourself about guns and gun safety and to assist you in this endeavor there are a few great resources that are available.
-One of the tips for gun owners is: http://oag.ca.gov/firearms/tips.
-Another great source: A Dozen Things Parents Can Do To Stop School Violence. Please go to www.ncpc.org/resources/files/pdf/school-safety/12parents.pdf
-Finally, there is another website, www.ncpc.org involving keeping firearms in your home safe and away from children.
-Please also see: Gun safety tips for parents,http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/gun_safety.html.