Kentucky State Representative Jim Wayne (D-Louisville) has pre-filed a bill for the 2018 legislative session. His first order of business: making it a crime to improperly store your firearm when children are present.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, the bill would require firearm owners to use a gun safe or a gun lock when minors (a.k.a anyone under age 18) are in the home.
Failure to do so, resulting in the minor gaining access to the firearm, would be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. If the minor actually uses the firearm to harm or kill themselves or someone else, then it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
“We’ve had a number of children killed because they were playing with guns that adults left out here in Louisville. It’s just a terrible tragedy,” Wayne said in a statement Thursday. “Guns are everywhere now. We’re flooded with guns. And people are so casual about where they leave them.”
At the beginning of the month, a two-year-old was shot and killed in Louisville after he and his three-year-old brother managed to get their hands on a 9 mm handgun at the top of their parents’ closet.
Sadly, Kentucky isn’t the only state that seems to have this issue. Just today, a six-year-old in Alaska was accidentally shot and killed by a 10-year old playing with an unsecured .22-caliber gun.
Earlier this month, a two-year-old in South Carolina died from a gunshot wound to the chest after the child’s mother’s boyfriend left his 9MM handgun unsecured in the living room.
And those are just a few examples.
Wayne told the Lexington Herald Leader that his bill is already receiving “some strong push-back from people who don’t understand the legislation.”
“They say, ‘It’s government intrusion into the privacy of my home,’” he explained. “They say, ‘My gun is kept in my bedside table, it’s not under lock and key, but that’s nobody’s business but mine.”
However, the State Representative noted that police aren’t just going to come into your home whenever they please to make sure your guns are stored properly. A gun owner is only going to be charged if there’s a child-involved shooting that can be directly linked back to them.
This is Kentucky’s second attempt to pass this type of law. State Senator Gerald Neal (D-Louisville) filed a similar bill last year but no action was taken.
Eighteen states, plus the District of Columbia, already have a “child-access prevention” law in place.