Introduction: Firearms in Florida
Any list of pro-gun states in the US will have Florida on it. The Florida state gun-related laws and legislation protect the right of citizens to possess and use firearms as well as carry openly or concealed firearms. Furthermore, Floridians have the right to protect themselves with firearms as part of self-defense, referred to as Stand Your Ground. Regardless, the many protections that gun owners receive do not occlude the presence or enactment of limitations to protected rights.
What the Stats Say
If the stats are anything to go by, then the enactment of these limitations is for good reason. For example, in 2015 alone, at least 265 people received accidental gunshots from kids. Of this number, 83 of the accidental shootings were fatal. Scary and shocking are not the only adjectives that qualify this fact. The stats therefore point to a growing issue of domestic gun safety. The issue is of high importance, especially when current estimates state that 1.7 million children live in households where guns are either stored fully loaded or left unlocked and easily accessible. More chilling is that compared to children in similarly situated countries, children in the US are 16 times more likely to be killed by accidental gunshot. Furthermore, shooters or those involved in these accidental shooting are often toddlers (aged 1-3) or young children who belong to the 3-4 age bracket.
These alarming stats provide the motivation to enact laws and legislation to curb the number of accidental shootings. One of these laws is the parental responsibility legislation. For example, not too long ago, a mother received an accidental gunshot from her son who was 4 years of age. Fortunately, the shooting was not fatal. However, the circumstance surrounding the shooting was appalling. The woman left the gun (fired accidentally) under the front seat of the car. Somehow, it slid past the front seat to the front of the car seat of the boy. The discharge occurred while the boy was playing with the loaded and unlocked gun. This is where the parental responsibility legislation comes with its full weight. For her complicity in allowing access to the firearm by a minor, her charge is second-degree misdemeanor. The penalty for the charge is a maximum of 180 days of incarceration.
The law clearly stipulates that a person who claims ownership to a firearm must store a firearm securely in a container or a location where a minor would not be able to gain access to the gun and keep the gun locked. According to the statute, a minor refers to a person who is 16 years of age or younger. If a scenario occurs resulting from an accidental discharge of a firearm, not duly locked and stored, by a minor (similar to what transpired in the previous section); the subsequent charge of misdemeanor binds on the minor’s parent, guardian, or individual in charge of the child at the time of the incident.
Furthermore, parental responsibility is binding on the parent or guardian of the minor, if in addition to accessing the firearm, the minor possesses, brandishes, or displays the firearm either in a public place or in a way that is angry, careless, threatening, or reckless.
Parental Liability in Florida
Under the parental liability law in Florida, parents or guardians may also be civilly liable, which refers to owing civil damages, and therefore paying restitution, in the event that the minor’s actions cause or inflicts damages, injuries, or losses. In any case, you should not that it is generally against public policy for parents to hold parents or guardians criminally liable for the actions of their children or wards.
Experienced, Top-notch Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Parental liability may not be a criminal charge by itself, but it does entertain the notion that parents may be liable in instances where they permit minors to access and use a dangerous weapon. To understand the tenets of this legislation better, you should endeavor to consult an experienced, top-notch criminal defense attorney. Contact the law firm today for a deeply rewarding free and confidential consultation in Broward County and surrounding areas.