We’ve all seen the news. A child takes a firearm to show and tell at school. Worse, a child might shoot themselves or someone else after finding a gun at home. The charge of the Virginia crime of allowing access to firearms by children is the least of your worries in those situations, but the penalties still apply.
Keep your firearms secure
In Virginia, the law requires adults to keep children under the age of 14 from obtaining loaded weapons. Parents cannot give children younger than 12 permission to fire a weapon unless they have adequate supervision, as outlined by Virginia Code § 18.2-56.2.
Failing to abide by these laws is a crime, regardless if any additional crimes occur. There doesn’t have to be a shooting. All the prosecution needs is evidence that a child had illegal access to a firearm on your watch.
Providing children with adequate firearm supervision
Learning to shoot is a time-honored tradition in many Virginia families. Lawmakers understand parents’ desire to pass these skills on to their children. They just expect this to be done in responsible ways.
By law, children under the age of 12 must only shoot firearms under the supervision of one of the following:
- Any person aged 21 or older who has the permission of the parent or guardian
Penalties for allowing access to firearms by children
In Virginia, the crime of allowing access to firearms by children is a Class I misdemeanor. If convicted, you may receive a jail sentence of up to twelve months and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, the children involved may be charged with related crimes, such as possession of a weapon by a minor.
Accidents happen, but when guns are involved, a small mistake can turn deadly. Learning to secure your firearms and providing children with adequate supervision helps prevent tragedy. It can also help you stay out of legal trouble. Be sure you understand all of the responsibilities before you bring guns into your home.