Parents might be held liable for guns in children’s reach

The right to bear arms is considered by many to be a basic American right. The laws for owning and carrying a firearm in Ohio are relatively lenient, compared to other states. This may lead to some confusion as to whether you can hold another parent responsible if your child was injured at a friend’s home when a gun was left unattended. Our team at Mezibov Butler can answer your questions on this important topic.

Almost nothing can be more heartbreaking than losing a child to a preventable accident – yet child injuries and deaths continue to occur across the country when children have access to loaded firearms that are in their reach. Your child’s friend may be showing off a handgun that belongs to his dad and accidentally discharge it; a toddler might play with a gun that she found on her parents’ nightstand, without realizing the danger. Whatever the reason, the consequences are too frightening to consider. However, it may be just as unbearable to imagine that your children’s friends might have unsecured firearms in their homes.

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, parents who leave firearms within the reach of children may be considered negligent in storing their weapons or supervising the children under their care – including your child if your son or daughter is playing at their house. In addition to civil liability, the consequences can range from misdemeanor to felony charges, fines and prison time.

If you own a gun, you may avoid a tragedy, as well as serious charges, by keeping it unloaded and/or locked in a secure container and stored out of the reach of children. It is also a good idea to educate your children on the dangers of handling unattended guns, and to always get to a safe place and tell an adult if their friends are playing with firearms. You may be eligible for compensation if your child is injured on someone else’s property, as our premises liability page explains.

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