Kids are home for the summer, keep them safe with appropriate gun storage and safety knowledge.
Summertime is here and that means that your kids and their friends are going to be hanging out at home more often. If you own firearms, you need to be especially careful to keep them safely secured and out of the hands of curious children. It is not enough to stash them in a closet, dresser drawer or under your bed. As a gun owner, it is your responsibility to take steps to appropriately safeguard your family and community from unauthorized access to your firearms.
Florida Law Requires You to Secure Your Firearms
Under Florida’s Title XLVI, Chapter 790 – Weapons and Firearms, Section 174, safe storage of firearms is required to keep your children safe. Florida law requires that:
A person who stores or leaves, on a premise under his or her control, a loaded firearm, as defined in s. 790.001, and who knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parent or the person having charge of the minor, or without the supervision required by law, shall keep the firearm in a securely locked box or container or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure or shall secure it with a trigger lock, except when the person is carrying the firearm on his or her body or within such close proximity thereto that he or she can retrieve and use it as easily and quickly as if he or she carried it on his or her body.
If you fail to comply with this law and a minor gains access to your loaded firearms without supervision, you could be found guilty of a second degree misdemeanor. This could mean up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines at a minimum. And that’s the best case scenario – that a minor is simply caught with your firearm. This statute doesn’t include the financial responsibility and tragic emotional toll should the worst happen.
What is the Best Way to Prevent a Gun Tragedy?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most obvious and effective way to prevent a gun tragedy from happening in your home is to not keep them in your home at all. However, if you must keep firearms in your home–whether for recreational purposes such as hunting or as a way to defend your home and family–you must also accept the responsibility of keeping them out of the reach of children, and anyone else who isn’t the licensed owner.
To safely store your firearms, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Keep your unloaded firearms locked up in a safe, gun vault, cabinet or storage case
- Store your ammunition is a separate locked location
- Use locking devices to make firearms inoperable in addition to putting them in locked storage
- Cable-style gun locks should only be used in addition to safe storage methods and higher-security gun locks
- Make sure all firearms are unloaded whenever they are removed from storage
Set Rules and Stick to Your Guns
Children are naturally curious and, unless you educate them and set boundaries, don’t know the difference between your gun and a toy gun. Take time to lay down the law with your kids about touching firearms in your home and outside your home. Smart rules for children include:
- Do not touch any guns in your home, outside your home, or at any other homes they may be visiting
- Do not touch a gun even if it appears to be a toy
- Do not snoop or allow other kids to go snooping around your home looking for firearms
- Immediately walk away if a gun is found and find an adult
- When everyone works together, we can help prevent a tragedy where children are harmed by unsecured firearms.
Don’t forget to visit the SafeTouch blog for more home safety tips.