As responsible gun owners, we know that firearms are deadly weapons, capable of causing serious injury and death if they wind up in the wrong hands. We believe that through education on how to store and handle a firearm, gun owners can prevent a tragedy from occurring due to an accidental discharge or other mishandling.
Although some state governments have enacting laws that seek to enforce strict requirements for the storage and handling of firearms, especially around children, Missouri is a state where no such laws have been enacted.
Freedom of Storage
State laws vary considerably in the storing of firearms, especially when there are children in the home. On the extreme end, Massachusetts requires that all firearms be either stored in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant lock or safety device. Failure to do so could result in fine up to $7,500 and/or imprisonment for up to 1.5 years! By comparison, Missouri has no laws requiring this kind of storage. While the general assembly “strongly promotes …parental supervision of minors in the proper use, storage, and ownership of firearm”, (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.320), in fact, Missouri has almost no statutory law governing how firearms must be stored in the home.
While not a storage issue, Missouri Statute § 571.060 does contain the state’s comparatively mild child-access prevention law—one subsection addressing when a minor may be given a gun. Subsection 1(2) prohibits anyone from knowingly selling, leasing, loaning, giving away, or delivering any firearm to a minor under the age of 18 without their parent’s consent, unless the minor is law enforcement or in the military. Basically, this just means that you cannot pass along a firearm to a minor without parental consent, whether you are a licensed firearms dealer, a private seller, or giving it away as a gift. Unlawfully transferring a firearm to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor that brings with it a potential one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
In the grand scheme of things, Missouri gun owners are allowed to shoot with their children and store their firearms in the home as they see fit. There have, however, been efforts in the past to impose criminal penalties for “negligent storage.” In both 2013 and 2014, State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal attempted to institute negligent storage laws through three separate Senate Bills – 124, 469, and 548. All three identical bills would have made it illegal under certain circumstances for a parent to recklessly store or leave a weapon in the home that a child would have access to. All of these bills died in Senate committees.
Despite this lack of strict regulation of gun storage, it is always of the utmost importance that firearms are safely stored in the home. Individual circumstances may vary—you may take your teenager to the range weekly, or they may not have ever held a gun—either way, you know what is best for your particular situation. It may not hurt to have a gun safe, or locking devices for some or all of your firearms. The most important thing is to ensure that you and your family are safe.
If you have any questions about storing your firearm, or what you can do to ensure a safe and happy environment in your home, give us a ring and an Independent Program Attorney will be happy to point you in the right direction.