The media calls them “safe storage” laws. I refer to them as mandatory storage laws, because there’s nothing inherently safe about telling people exactly how they have to have their guns secured regardless of their individual circumstances.
Yet many want mandatory storage laws to be enacted throughout the nation, possibly at the federal level itself.
If that happens, all of us will be required to keep our guns locked up at all times. That means they’re less likely to be accessible when we need them.
However, a post at the NRA’s Institute for Legal Affairs brings up an interesting point on such laws.
There is no section of the Code of Virginia titled, “Prohibition on providing young children with gasoline and matches to play with.” Does that mean it’s legal in the Old Dominion to give young children gasoline and matches to amuse themselves?
Of course not.
VA Code Ann. § 18.2-371.1 provides,
A. Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 who by willful act or willful omission or refusal to provide any necessary care for the child’s health causes or permits serious injury to the life or health of such child is guilty of a Class 4 felony. For purposes of this subsection, “serious injury” includes but is not limited to (i) disfigurement, (ii) a fracture, (iii) a severe burn or laceration, (iv) mutilation, (v) maiming, (vi) forced ingestion of dangerous substances, and (vii) life-threatening internal injuries…
B. 1. Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
It’s kind of like how states don’t typically have statutes titled, “Prohibition on beating a person over the head with a shovel.” Rather, it is understood that such conduct is treated as aggravated battery – or in the case of Virginia, “aggravated malicious wounding.”
The point is that not every type of conduct that is illegal is spelled out in individual detail in state criminal statutes. Instead, many statutes are written as to implicate an array of undesirable conduct without trying to predict every idiosyncrasy of human behavior.
This is a valid point, and one mimicked in the laws of numerous other states.
See, when a parent is irresponsible, we don’t need a new law to punish them. We have an existing law in many of these places that can be used to prosecute those who fail to act responsibly.
But the thing is, I’m not sure that’s the point here.
Instead, I think the point here is simply to introduce new, gun-specific requirements. In this case, it’s mandatory storage laws.
With each incremental step, Americans become more tolerant of additional regulations. The Overton Window shifts and what people might have thought radical 30 years ago seems perfectly reasonable today. Take a look at the world around us for a moment and tell me that this kind of thing is implausible.
Mandatory storage laws aren’t needed to punish those who act irresponsibly with guns. If charges are warranted at all, there are statutes that can address the failings in question.
What they’re “needed” for is to condition the American people to accept more restrictions on our Second Amendment rights.