In the wake of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy,
gun control has again become a national focal point and subject of heated
disputes. Other high-profile incidents, such as the shooting of Sanford
teen Treyvon Martin by a neighborhood watch member, have placed the state
of Florida and its firearm laws under the public microscope.
Firearm safety seems to have a common, direct connection to children’s
safety. Gun violence is an unfortunate component of American society and
law enforcement, but the topic receives special attention and varying
arguments when the controversial topic involves children. There are strong
arguments that are in favor of exposing kids to firearms and promoting
gun safety/awareness at a young age. Some parents argue that teaching
kids about firearms properly reduces firearm accidents because it removes
the curiosity and taboo associated with them. Others argue that guns and
safety training are unnecessary.
Florida and Child Access Prevention Laws
Florida is one of several states with
Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws. It is a misdemeanor offense to allow or to fail to stop a child under
the age of 16 from gaining access to firearms. Firearms in the home are
required to be secured in a locked box, container, or secured by a gun
lock. This also applies to relatives who may have children visiting their
The state of Florida imposes additional criminal liability on the firearm
owner in cases where the firearm is improperly secured and the child is
caught in possession of the firearm in public and/or uses the firearm
in a threatening manner.
Local News and Child Accident Statistics
In early May, a 3-year-old Tampa boy died after he was shot in his uncle’s
apartment. The boy,Jadarrius Sprights, was believed to have removed a loaded 9mm handgun from his uncle’s
backpack in the living room. The boy’s uncle, 29-year-old Jeffrey
Walker, apparently left the loaded weapon unsecured in the backpack. Jadarrius
accidentally shot himself while handling the gun. Walker purchased the
gun legally and holds a CCW permit, but has been arrested and charged
with Culpable Negligence under Florida’s Child Access Prevention
(CAP) law. Under Florida CAP law, Walker was responsible for securing
the handgun with a gunlock or inside a locked container, or otherwise
preventing access to the gun, while it was in the same living space as
his nephew. If convicted, Walker faces potential prison time associated
with a third degree felony.
From December of 2012 to May of 2013, at least 71 shooting deaths have
claimed the lives of children under age 17.
- 40 of those deaths were unintentional/accidents, 31 were alleged homicides
- The average age of the victims was just under six years old
- At least 29 accidental deaths occurred when a child under 17 pulled the trigger
- Florida was the leading state for most child deaths (four accidents, five
Nearly all of the 40 accidental deaths were violations of CAP laws and
may have been prevented by the use of gun locks or locked cases.
Citrus County Sheriff Firearms Guide (pdf) –http://www.sheriffcitrus.org/pdf/FlFirearmsGuide.pdf
Summary of State Child Access Prevention Laws (pdf) –http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/LAW/Documents/SummaryOfStateChild
WFLA (.com) –
Mother Jones Magazine –