Alabama House committee approves bill requiring safe storage of firearms around children
Parents who violate the law could spend up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine
A man puts a pistol in a gun safe. (Getty)
The House Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved a bill that could subject parents of children who bring firearms to school to jail time.
HB 123, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, would require parents and legal guardians to secure firearms from children. If their child brings a firearm to school, the parent could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
“This is a bill that makes parents responsible,” Drummond said Wednesday. “It is a bill that will require that if a weapon is found on school’s campus, and the authorities trace it back to the household of the parent or the guardian, and the gun belongs to them, then that guardian be held responsible.”
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
The committee approved the bill on a 8-3 vote, with one abstention. The bill goes to the House of Representatives.
On Monday, a Virginia grand jury indicted Deja Taylor, the mother of a six-year-old who brought his gun to his school in Newport News and shot his teacher in January. Taylor was charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor charge of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm near a child. The teacher, who was shot in the chest and hand, is suing the school district for $40 million.
Drummond’s bill originally made the charge a Class C felony. The committee reduced the offense to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine.
The bill says that if a firearm is “reasonably secure,” the parent or guardian is protected from prosecution. Reasonably secure would include trigger locks or lock boxes.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
“That gun is still secured, that student will not be able to use that weapon,” Drummond said.
Some committee members took issue with making parents liable.
“You are aware most grandparents don’t, if they are keeping a child, they don’t always go get legal guardianship,” said Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, the vice chair of the committee. “If they don’t have a legal guardianship, they cannot be charged. I have concerns with this bill.”
Wadsworth, along with Reps. David Standridge, R-Hayden and Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle voted against the bill. Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Selma, abstained.
“What you are doing is not a foreign concept to the law,” Rep. Chris England, D- Tuscaloosa said to hold out votes on the committee. “In juvenile court for example, we charge parents for contributing to the delinquency or dependency of minors all the time. This isn’t controversial.”
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.