Snowman wrote:I'm agreeing with you. I do NOT want to make it law, that you must lock up your guns, knives, etc. But I do think that we do have limited responsiblity for what happens when we allow a irresponsible/criminal person access to them, and something terrible happens.
If you and your household is safe with firearms, that are not secured, great! My house will be like that someday. One way or another. But if you are incorrect, and a child/teenager/criminal/incompetant person obtains a firearm that you believed they were safe with/ or thought it wouldn't happen with them. And something happens... There should be SOME resposibilty there. The same holds true if a parent allows/ isn't careful, and a 5 year old takes the family car for a spin, and runs someone over.
I am seeing your reason, that we should not be responsible in all cases. But there are many cases where it is ones responsiblity to secure their firearms. Not all. I understand, and see cases where it would not be. But I do believe that it is, in my case, criminally neglegent to allow my 2 year old access. And if I were to leave a loaded handgun out where he could reach it, and my wife/soomebody was killed, I feel that I would be criminally reasposible. Where if my crazy nephew, who is 24 did it, I would be stupid, but not criminal... I am finding it hard to draw a line, and am rambling. So... I see that viewpoint is quite valid. But I can't bring myself to say that it is under all circumstances.
I can appreciate the sentiment. It just "feels" like some liability should attach. Bad stuff must be somebody's fault. The question is, at what level of culpability however.
One day as a pre-teen I started rolling a tire up and down the driveway playing with it. It got away from me and I could not stop it. It rolled down the hill and hit a neighbor's front door. Darn near took it off the hinges. Thank heaven nobody was hurt. My folks were liable to fix the door/jam. But it was simple liability. It isn't like there was any consideration of punitive damages, nor even getting the law involved. I wasn't being malicious, just stupid. I had no idea a tire could be dangerous until about the time it got away from me. I'd never played with a tire before. My parents did nothing wrong in not having that spare tire locked up. Their liability was just to fix what was broken.
Ever seen what happens if a large wrench drops across the posts of a typical lead acid car battery? Imagine anything flammable being near by.
Having grown up in a bit of a rural area, garages were full of stuff potentially as or more dangerous than most firearms. The high school shop class would build working black powder cannons for the final project.
Not requiring secure storage is the first step to protecting RKBA in this area.
But if we allow excessive liability to attach after the fact we've effectively required a safe anyway.
Leaving a loaded gun where a toddler can access it is negligent.
Having an unloaded gun stored in a closet in the parents' room, with ammo in a different location should not be considered negligent unless there are unusual circumstances that would indicate the need to lock up dangerous items.
But here is where I draw the line: if the circumstances are such that a reasonable person would feel compelled to secure large knives, matches, medicines, household chemicals, and/or car keys, then it is reasonable to expect that firearms would also be secured. It is not reasonable, IMO, to consider it negligent to fail to secure firearms unless other common household items that are potentially dangerous also need to be secured. I set the standard thusly because I truly believe that firearms are as common a household item as a lot of other potentially dangerous items including car batteries, spare tires, modest amounts of gasoline, household and yard/garden chemicals (including rat poison, insecticides, etc), knives, car keys, 5 gallon buckets and toilets, electrical outlets, etc, etc, etc.
We also have to consider the ages of the offender. What a 2 to 5 year old can access may carry different liability than a 5 to 10 year old or a 10 to 15 year old and so on.
We might also consider this. If a young person is charged as an adult, does it still make sense for his parents to be liable for his conduct? Some minors obviously need to bear the full brunt of their criminal conduct. They acted with full knowledge. But in those cases, should their parents still be liable simply because they have deeper pockets than does the kid?
Now all of this is dealing with legal responsibilities. Certainly moral and ethical responsibilities go well beyond mere legal responsibilities.