In an effort to promote firearm safety and protect children and schools from gun-related incidents, a coalition of Ventura County law enforcement agencies and educational leaders have launched a new public service announcement (PSA). The PSA, titled “Gun Safe Storage: It’s The Law,” aims to raise awareness about the importance of secure gun storage and responsible firearms ownership as children return to school. It is also in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month.
“Secure gun storage is a critical step toward preventing tragedies and promoting responsible firearms ownership,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “Informing parents and guardians about criminal liability arising from improper firearm storage is a simple and effective way to save lives.”
According to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), firearms are the number one cause of death among children and teens in the United States. Accidents involving children and unauthorized access to firearms are among the reasons why. To address this pressing issue, the Ventura County Office of Education will be sharing a video produced by the District Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments. By emphasizing the importance of securing firearms, the initiative aims to reduce the risk of accidents, suicides, and unauthorized access to guns, ultimately protecting the lives of Ventura County’s youngest residents.
Gun owners are encouraged to invest in safe and secure gun storage solutions, such as gun safes, lockboxes, trigger locks, or gun cables to prevent unauthorized access and accidental discharge. As part of the PSA, all Ventura County police departments and the Sheriff’s Office will provide gun cables free of charge, while supplies last.
The “Gun Safe Storage: It’s The Law” video is being shared through Ventura County law enforcement websites, social media accounts, and the Ventura County Office of Education outreach channels. Informational material on responsible gun ownership and safe storage practices is also available at vcdistrictattorney.com.
“It’s a sad reality that children who get their hands on improperly stored firearms are injured or killed virtually every day,” said Dr. César Morales the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. “And when students use guns to commit violence at school, the weapons usually come from the home. Safely storing firearms is one of the simplest things we can do to prevent these needless tragedies.”
To help parents and legal guardians understand their legal responsibilities, the bullet points below spell out California law regarding the storage of firearms:
• With very limited exceptions, California law makes a person criminally liable for keeping any firearm, loaded or unloaded, within any premises that are under their custody and control where that person knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child’s parent or legal guardian, and the child obtains access to the firearm and there by (1) causes death or injury to the child or any other person; (2) carries the firearm off the premises or to a public place, including to any preschool or school grades kindergarten through twelfth grade, or to any school-sponsored event, activity, or performance; or (3) unlawfully brandishes the firearm to others.
o Note: The criminal penalty may be significantly greater if someone dies or suffers great bodily injury as a result of the child gaining access to the firearm.
• With very limited exceptions, California also makes it a crime for a person to negligently store or leave any firearm, loaded or unloaded, on their premises in a location where the person knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to it without the permission of the child’s parent or legal guardian, unless reasonable action is taken to secure the firearm against access by the child, even when a minor never actually accesses the firearm.
• In addition to potential fines and terms of imprisonment, as of January 1, 2020, a gun owner found criminally liable under these California laws faces prohibitions from possessing, controlling, owning, receiving, or purchasing a firearm for 10 years.
• Finally, a parent or guardian may also be civilly liable for damages resulting from the discharge of a firearm by that person’s child or ward.
Parents and guardians are urged to have open conversations with their children about gun safety and to teach them the importance of never touching firearms without adult supervision. Students are also encouraged to report any suspicious behavior or concerns related to firearms to school administrators or local law enforcement authorities.
To view the PSA, please visit the District Attorney’s Office YouTube Channel: Gun Safe Storage | It’s The Law – YouTube.