Proper Gun Storage: Keeping Your Family Away From Harm
On behalf of Fausone Bohn, LLP on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.
Mark Mandell, Esq.
If you are a concealed pistol license (CPL) holder, do not take the responsibility lightly. There are countless scenarios in which you will find yourself knee-deep in legal trouble if you are not aware of the location of your pistol at all times. Since the majority of CPL holders do not carry on a daily basis and instead stash their pistol in their home, it’s easy to lose track or forget about the weapon entirely. This is why proper storage in a gun safe is of paramount importance. Limiting the access to only yourself is the first step to proper storage, but your responsibilities do not end there.
Even if the gun is locked away in a safe, you should routinely make sure the pistol was not removed. In the event that the firearm is missing, do not assume that you misplaced it and that it will turn up at some point. Instead, you should report the theft within 5 days or else be responsible for a civil violation and fined up to $500.00.
Properly storing your weapon will also prevent your children from accessing it and potentially facing serious legal consequences for you and the child. For the sake of argument, let’s say your child stumbled upon your pistol while he/she was snooping around in your closet. Wanting to show off their mom or dad’s awesome gun, they decide to bring it to school. According to the Firearms Laws of Michigan:
“If a pupil possesses in a weapon free school zone a weapon that constitutes a dangerous weapon… the school board shall expel the pupil from the school district permanently.”
You will then be fighting an uphill battle to get your child reinstated, needing to prove in a clear and convincing matter that it was not possessed for use as a weapon or was intended for delivery to another person for use as a weapon; or the student didn’t know he had it.
Expulsion may be the tip of the iceberg if prosecutors want to “throw the book” at you. Section 750.227 of the Firearms Laws of Michigan states:
“A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on or about his or her person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business or on other land possessed by the person, without a license to carry the pistol as provided by law. A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2500.00.”
It’s possible for a child as young as 14 years old to face these felony charges if the judge is trying to make an example out of him/her:
“If a juvenile 14 years of age or older is accused of an act that if committed by an adult would be a felony, the judge of the family division of circuit court… may waive jurisdiction… after the waiver, the juvenile may be tried in the court having general criminal jurisdiction of the offense.”
The penalties will only increase in severity if the child used the weapon with or without intent to harm others, and could even be facing federal charges.
Finally, you as the parent could be facing criminal charges if the following circumstances exist: (1) you have custody of the minor; (2) the minor possessed the weapon in a weapon free school zone; (3) you were aware of the child’s intent/actions or you acted to further the violation. Given the high frequency of mass shootings, this may be happening more than we would like to think.
All of this can be easily avoided if you develop a safe method of storage for your weapon and always know its whereabouts. You can find gun safes as cheap as $50.00, so there is really no excuse to leave your weapon vulnerable to theft or possession by a child. If you find yourself facing legal consequences for a pistol-related offense, you should immediately contact the attorneys at Fausone Bohn, LLP and ask for Mark Mandell.
As a former prosecuting attorney, Attorney Mark Mandell has extensive criminal trial experience. While some attorneys avoid trials, Mark is always prepared to take his clients’ case to trial if needed. Mark taught trial advocacy skills as an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He uses his experience as a prosecutor and professor to fight for his clients, whether that be at trial or for the best possible plea agreement to minimize jail, prison, or probation. Experience and credibility is the name of the game when appearing before a judge and Attorney Mark Mandell has it!