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Is It Illegal To Allow Children To Access Firearms In Maryland?

We’ve all see or heard horrific stories of a child getting a hold of a firearm owned by a parent, friend or relative, and injuring themselves - or worse.  Certainly, everyone in these tragic situations looks to see what the owner of the gun did to make sure this would not happen. Was the gun hidden, locked in a safe, or otherwise secured to make sure that a child could not access it? It surprises few to learn that the failure to properly secure a firearm is treated as a criminal offense under Maryland law. What does surprise many is the relatively light maximum sentence.

Maryland law provides that it shall be illegal for a person to store or “leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to the firearm”.

Child is defined as someone less than 16. There are exceptions. If a supervising adult or law enforcement officer is present, or the child has a permit to use a firearm, there is no violation.  The law does not apply to antique firearms. Interestingly, one cannot mention a violation of this section in any civil matter relating to injuries that result from a child accessing the firearm. The penalty for a violation is relatively slight, with a maximum of 1 year, and a fine of $1,000. Now certainly, if death or serious bodily bodily injury results from failure to limit access to the firearm, more serious charges are possible, and I would suggest likely. 

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     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 9/1/20.