COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new bill introduced at the Ohio Statehouse would punish people who failed to properly store guns when minors are present.
According to release, state Senators Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) introduced SB 279, which would establish legal culpability for unsafe storage of a firearm, ranging from a third-degree misdemeanor for criminal negligent storage of a firearm to a third-degree felony if a minor gains access to the firearm and then uses it to injure or kill, except if that is done in self-defense.
“Our children are our responsibility and their health and safety are paramount,” said Tavares. “If adults choose to have a gun in their household or control, they must be held accountable to ensure that it is not accessible to or in the possession of underage children.”
The “Gun Safety Act” will prohibit Ohioans from improperly storing firearms and from leaving firearms unattended if they know or should reasonably expect that a minor could gain access to them.
“It’s always tragic when a child dies. However, the tragedy is compounded when the death could have been easily avoided,” said Sykes. “This legislation will decrease the number of children we prematurely say goodbye to by keeping guns safely locked away.”
Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia already have child access prevention laws, which have been effective in reducing suicide rates, gun-related injuries and unintentional gun deaths of minors.