Straight Shooting: Kids and Guns
Just like in the aftermath of the Amish school shooting in Lancaster County in 2006, kids and guns have been in the news a lot after the Newtown school massacre and for good reason. In 2011, minors under age 18 made up over one quarter of those arrested for illegal possession of weapons in Pennsylvania.
Subject to some exceptions, minors under age 18 may not possess firearms in the state of PA. An adult who provides a gun to a minor in violation of the law can be charged with a third degree felony that can carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
In Pennsylvania, 92 percent of all weapon-related child deaths that were reviewed in 2011 involved the use of a firearm. These deaths include 147 homicides, 21 suicides and four accidental gun injuries. As parents, you can minimize the chances of your children exposing themselves and others to risk by:
- Teaching your children about solving problems in non-violent ways
- Leading by example — always follow gun safety best practices
- Consider storing your guns outside the home
- Locking up your gun at all times, keeping it unloaded storing bullets in another location
- Reconsidering the purchase of a gun for your teen
- Teaching your children what to do if they find a gun or hear someone threatening to bring a gun to school
- Knowing which of your children’s friends have access to guns
The tragedy of a gun-related death often extends beyond the immediate victims and their families. An offending minor could face criminal weapons charges and in some cases, the minor’s family may be liable as well. If you have kids and keep a gun in your home, please feel free to contact our firm for guidance on Pennsylvania gun laws.