Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) that seeks to keep loaded firearms out of the hands of unsupervised minors was approved by the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee.
“We’ve seen too many instances where children with access to a parent’s firearms engage in planned attacks harming others, and too many tragedies where children living in or visiting a home with unlocked and loaded firearms end up accidentally harming themselves,” said Holzapfel, a member of the committee. “This legislation balances the rights of responsible gun owners with the public interest of reducing preventable deaths from planned and accidental shootings.”
Senator Holzapfel’s legislation, S-516, increases penalties for knowingly allowing a minor to gain access to loaded, unlocked firearms at a legal gun owner’s premises. It also covers those who reasonably should know a minor can access their loaded, unlocked weapon.
If such an offense leads to bodily injury, the penalty increases from a disorderly person’s offense to a fourth-degree crime; if it results in serious bodily injury or death, the penalty increases to a third-degree crime.
“Hopefully, the potential for increased jail time and fines is enough to make parents and guardians attentive and accountable for their firearms at all times,” Holzapfel added.
The committee approved the legislation in a 5-0 vote.