HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Law enforcement officials are expressing concern about a child’s access to their parents’ firearms after Alabama’s law repealing the need for a concealed carry permit went into effect.
The concerns arise after authorities say a six-year-old in Hampton, Va. shot his elementary school teacher using his parents’ gun. The child’s mother is now facing charges after failing to store the weapon properly.
Legal experts chimed in, saying if a child handles a gun and uses it recklessly — parents or guardians could face serious consequences.
“It’s horrible but you really have to take a look at [this]: can a six-year-old form the intent?” questioned Tim Gann, Madison County’s deputy district attorney. “They can do the action for sure.”
Gann told News 19 that laws differ from Alabama to Virginia, and although parents can be held liable — it all depends on how the child got that weapon in the first place.
“If the parents gave the gun to the child to go to school that day, then that will change things,” Gann explained. “For them not to know that the child [had] the gun, they wouldn’t be held criminally liable, but face civil charges because its negligence.”
“Any time your child gets your gun, you’ve been negligent at some point and maybe even reckless,” he continued. Gann said as tragic as the shooting was in Virginia, a six-year-old can’t be locked up because “they don’t know any better.”
“It’s a horrible situation that would be dealt with in the civil world here in Alabama,” he said. “It would not be criminal.”
Gann says although he supports the new “constitutional carry” law in the state, parents should be more responsible with their firearms.
“It’s like having a car and not knowing how to drive,” he explained. “If you’re going to have a firearm, be responsible with it. Take the time to learn how it works and teach your children about it at an early age so that it kind of takes the mystery away. [Then] they understand what they are dealing with and really stay away from it.”
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Gann stressed that firearms should be locked up safely away from children and others who could access them.