All Illinois firearm owners should be aware that, under specific circumstances, they could be charged with a crime if they leave a firearm accessible and a child injures someone with that firearm.
One such incident happened in Chicago on March 10, 2018, when a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot his 9-year-old cousin in the arm with a gun he found in a residence. For perspective, it has been estimated that 31% of U.S. households had at least one child and one gun in the home in 2012.
27 states, including Illinois, have laws aimed at preventing child access to firearms, but the specific obligations and liability of gun owners vary widely across states. Such laws are commonly referred to Child Access Prevention laws. Proponents claim these laws are effective in preventing suicides and unintentional deaths and injuries of children by firearms.
Does the Illinois Child Access Prevention Law Apply to Me?
The applicable Illinois law, which took effect in January 2000, can be found in the Illinois Criminal Code, section 24-9. This law applies to firearms owners who reasonably expect minors under the age of 14 to be on their premises. In other words, if you have children living with you, or you ever have children visiting your home, you should definitely pay attention to this law.
What Does The Law Require Me to Do?
The law requires you to secure your firearms using any one of the following means:
- Secured by a trigger lock or other device, other than the firearm safety, that renders the firearm temporarily inoperable.
- Placed in a securely locked container.
- Placed in a location that a reasonable person would believe to be secure from a minor under the age of 14 years.
What Is the Penalty If a Minor Injures Someone with My Unsecured Gun?
If a minor under the age of 14 years “causes death or great bodily harm” with a firearm that you left unsecured, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined not less than $1,000. A second or subsequent offense rises to a Class A misdemeanor.
This penalty does not apply if the minor uses the firearm “in a lawful act of self-defense or defense of another” or if the firearm was obtained as the result of unlawful entry of your premises.
Get the Best Defense with a Will County Weapons Charges Lawyer
If someone is injured or killed with one of your firearms, you will quickly need the advice of an attorney experienced in firearms law. Contact a knowledgeable Joliet gun charges defense lawyer for a free and confidential consultation. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025; calls are responded to 24 hours a day.