Understanding NJ Child Access Prevention Laws
New Jersey has Specific Laws in Place to Prevent Children from Accessing Firearms. You Need to Know How to Safely Store Your Guns to Prevent Being Charged with a Weapons Offense.
Protecting children from harming themselves or others with firearms is the aim behind child access prevention (CAP) laws. By forcing gun owners to follow specific rules for handling and storing firearms, the New Jersey legislature hopes to reduce injuries and fatalities attributed to guns and youth, including suicide, homicide, and accidents. Lowering gun injuries and fatalities arising from minors accessing guns is the result of CAP laws. Such laws have also made more people aware of the problem of gun deaths and children by punishing gun owners who do not follow gun safety practices prescribed by law.
What New Jersey’s Child Access Prevention Law Says
New Jersey’s CAP law requires all gun owners to securely store firearms in a lock box or locked container in a place one would consider reasonably safe from a child’s access and with the firearm trigger locked. This law applies to anyone who knows or should know that children may find a loaded gun on their premises, not just for parents. However, parents certainly are not immune to liability.
Parents can be Held Responsible for their Child’s Actions with Guns in NJ
Depending on the circumstances, a parent could be responsible for their child’s weapon access. For example, a parent may be legally and financially accountable for negligent supervision. When they fail to supervise a child with a propensity toward violence, they may be liable for damages resulting from their child obtaining an improperly secured firearm from a place where a parent should know the child can access it.
Similarly, a parent may be responsible for anyone injured by their child with a known history of gun violence that they failed to reasonably prevent from committing a gun crime. An example is a minor who takes their parents’ automatic rifle to shoot into a crowd of people. The parents may be liable to the families of the lost and injured when the gun was accessible and their child previously attempted to shoot a person.
Furthermore, failing to lock and secure a gun where a child cannot get to it or failing to lock away a firearm in a secured container or lockbox that a child gets into creates parental liability. Each case of parental liability for a minor committing self-harm or harm to others with a gun is distinct and determined by its facts. The bottom line is that New Jersey’s mandate is that all adults responsibly own and store firearms when children can get at them.
Principles for Safely Storing Firearms in New Jersey
Some common-sense safe storage principles exist for parents and all other gun owners to protect lives. Safe storage guidelines include unloading firearms and keeping them in a locked safe or container until the next use. Two other safe practices are safety locks that prevent the trigger’s accidental discharge and separate ammunition storage away from the gun. Of course, also ensuring children have no access to lock keys or combinations is crucial. Lastly, educating children about gun safety may prevent tragic accidents.
Aside from published guidelines, the state encourages gun safety by requiring gun dealers to give a conspicuous (at least one-fourth of an inch) written warning to gun purchasers of the consequences of leaving a loaded gun accessible to minors: jail time and fines. A similar sign must be at each dealer’s counter, too.
Penalties for a Child Gaining Access to a Loaded Firearm in NJ
New Jersey is serious about punishing the failure to protect children and others from gun violence by not safeguarding weapons. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-15 punishes those who enable a minor under age 16 to access a loaded firearm that is not secured as prescribed (lockbox or locked container out of reach of children and with the gun in safety lock mode). The law does not apply to minors using firearms legally or those who illegally obtain a gun from someone’s property.
A violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-15 is a disorderly persons offense. A conviction could lead to six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine, but a harsh sentence is not all you face. Convictions on your record can haunt you when you return to school to become a professional. You may not get into your chosen university with an offense on your record or obtain a professional license. Other job prospects may not come through after a background check.
Firearms storage safety violations have severe consequences, not only criminally, but civilly as well. When a victim or their family sues you for causing injury or death to their loved one by your negligent supervision and violation of the gun safe storage law, you stand to lose a great deal of money in damages.
Consult a Weapons Defense Attorney in New Jersey
Since New Jersey is hard on safe storage gun law violators, you need a strong advocate to defeat the state’s case against you When you face a possible conviction for such a violation, you are smart to seek out the services of a highly experienced New Jersey gun defense lawyer to protect your rights and possibly obtain a dismissal, probation, or a better sentence than the maximum six months in jail. At The Tormey Law Firm, you can count on over 100 years of experience handling weapons cases in counties across the state, such as Bergen County, Passaic County, Middlesex County, Hudson County, and Ocean County.
Our criminal defense team includes multiple former prosecutors who used to handle investigations as serious as illegal weapons trafficking, not to mention homicide, armed robbery, and more. We tackle every case, from misdemeanors to felonies, like it’s the most important thing that’s happened in your life and you need the best result, period. Contact us at (201)-556-1570 to talk to a seasoned New Jersey weapons charges lawyer about a child gaining access to your firearm anywhere in NJ. We provide free initial consultations, so do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by phone to discuss your case.