Child's Access to Firearms

Child's Access To FirearmsIt is well documented that Maryland has some of most restrictive gun laws in the country.  Not only has it become de facto impossible for an everyday law abiding citizen to obtain a concealed carry permit, but the state has also taken drastic measures to outlaw numerous popular types of firearms.  The environment surrounding firearms in our state has become so unwelcoming that Beretta, a major gun manufacturer, recently moved their Southern Maryland factory and hundreds of jobs to Tennessee.  This move was in direct response to state legislators banning a so-called high capacity magazine that is essential to one of Beretta’s most popular handgun models.  High capacity magazines are now defined as containing 10 or rounds, an arbitrary number that has caused much discontent among gun owners and dealers.

These restrictive state laws have not only harmed businesses, cost the state jobs, and angered gun owners.  They have also increased the amount of attention that the criminal justice system places on the prosecution of firearms crimes.   Prosecutors and even judges in many jurisdictions have become caught up in the state’s developing anti gun attitude, and defendants now face increased prosecutions and harsher sentences upon convictions.  State’s Attorney’s Offices are choosing to file charges for weapons cases that many people do not even realize are criminal offenses.  One of these offenses is located in criminal law section 4-104, entitled child’s access to firearms.  This law prohibits a person from storing or leaving a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to it.  A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, meaning that this law itself does not carry the possibility of jail time.  But often the charge of reckless endangerment accompanies a child access to firearms case, and reckless endangerment does carry jail time.

The wording of the child’s access to firearms statute is extremely vague and general, which means that police and prosecutors have an unfairly wide margin of error when deciding to pursue theses cases.  On the other hand it also gives a skilled and experienced defense attorney the opportunity to destroy the prosecutions case.  The law requires the state to prove that the defendant knew or should have known a child could access the firearm.  There are no specific requirements under state law about how to store a gun, and there is no checklist for gun owners to follow.  In the absence of strict guidelines there is simply no way that the state should be able to hold a person responsible for the actions of a child that has taken something without permission.  If you or a loved one is charged with child’s access to firearm the stakes are simply to high not to fight back.  A conviction could result in a permanent criminal record and even jail time if reckless endangerment charges are filed.  In addition, a person charged with this offense faces enormous civil liability regardless of the fact that a conviction for this offense is inadmissible in civil court.  Fight back, and contact an experienced firearms lawyer today at 410-207-2598. 
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