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SB91 AIMS AT ASSURING SAFE STORAGE OF FIREARMS

SHARE SB91 AIMS AT ASSURING SAFE STORAGE OF FIREARMS

Every year, thousands of children across America are killed or severely injured while playing with loaded guns.

Now, Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell, D-Salt Lake, wants to make Utah gun owners criminally liable for improperly storing loaded firearms that are then used by children to kill or injure.Under provisions of SB91, filed Monday, criminal storage of a firearm would be a third-degree felony punishable by 0-to-5 years in prison. Under certain circumstances, it would be a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

The law specifically states that a parent or legal guardian of a child who is injured or dies in a shooting incident cannot be arrested until seven days after the shooting occurred.

It also encourages law enforcement officers not to arrest parents while their child remains on life-support systems or is in critical condition.

According to the bill, "It is the Legislature's intent that a parent or guardian of a child who is injured or who dies as the result of an accidental shooting shall be prosecuted only in those instances in which the parent or guardian behaved in a grossly negligent manner."

The law would not apply if the children illegally broke into the house to get at the weapon or if the weapon was in a locked container or location the owner believed to be secure. It also makes an exception for a child acting in self-defense.

California lawmakers enacted similar legislation, Howell said.