Can you go to jail if your child accidentally shoots someone?

The Second Amendment guarantees people certain rights regarding firearms – but safety concerns have to be balanced out against those rights.

With that in mind, Texas passed a law in 1995 that made parents and other adults criminally liable when a child gains access to a firearm and even more so if someone is injured or dies as a result. Here are the basics you should know.

There are two possible scenarios

If your underage child (even a teenager) gains access to a loaded firearm through your negligence but no serious harm results, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500 – but no jail time.

If someone gets hurt or killed, the charges can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. That’s in addition to the potential civil liabilities you can face if the victim’s family files a lawsuit.

When you have a minor child in the home and you have firearms, it’s best to be prudent:

  • Never leave a gun and ammunition sitting around after use on a target range or while hunting.
  • Unload, clean the weapon and put everything away before the kids get curious.
  • Use a gun safe with a secure locking mechanism. Remember: Kids are clever and physical keys can be found. An electronic keypad that relies on a code or a fingerprint is better.
  • Keep the weapons and the ammunition in different places. That reduces the likelihood that kids will put the two together.

Ultimately, investigative journalists have discovered that parents don’t usually face charges after a child gets hold of their gun – but it is possible. If you’re facing any kind of weapons charges, take immediate legal steps to protect your future.

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