Gun Control Debate Continues After Ohio School Shooting [POLL]
Will the gun owner in the Ohio school shootings be held accountable? According to Ohio law, its unlikely. In New Jersey, however, that would be a different case.
According to the Associated Press, the Ohio shooter, T.J. Lane, stole the .22 caliber pistol from his Uncle. Its not yet certain if the gun was properly stored, locked and had its ammunition removed.
New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Steven Jones says that would have big consequences here.
"If you are a gun owner, you are prohibited from leaving a gun out where any kids can get access to it. They have to be locked up, unloaded and safely stored away from any place where a juvenile can get a hold of a gun."
New Jersey is one of 28 states that have Child Access Prevention laws which would put adults on the hook if its determined that juveniles were able to access their guns, according to New Jersey lawyer Jef Henninger, a gun permit attorney, who has offices in Eatontown, New Brunswick and Toms River.
"They could be held accountable for their actions and even be charged with a crime."
New Jersey is also one of only six states that makes adults liable whether or not the child uses the firearm to cause injury.
"It could even indicate that you were endangering the welfare of a child by allowing them to shoot them or take them to school or use them in any way" said Henninger.
He also said New Jersey has a very tough process to obtain a permit to carry a gun. "If you are the average citizen, its extremely difficult to get a permit these days, even with a clean record. You have to be a retired law enforcement officer or have some other special circumstance, we have some of the strictest laws in the country."
Lt. Jones said in his tenure at the State Police its extremely rare that a young child has gotten a hold of a gun in New Jersey. "There are times when kids that are juveniles like 16 or 17 years old are getting access to guns on the streets from gangs, but that's probably a different level of a problem than when you're talking about a teen getting a firearm through a parent or close relative's home."
Unfortunately, there are no signs that the Ohio shooting will force a reassessment of the nation's gun laws. House Speaker John Boehner said while the fatalities are tragic, there are millions of guns in the U.S. and people should use them responsibly.
"As much as it would be nice to have a universal federal law, I think the problem is that states are so different across the country. There are some areas that are more rural that don't have a lot of crime, then there are states like New Jersey where maybe some of the inner cities have a bigger problem with crime and need strict gun laws" said Henninger.
According to a 2000 study by the U.S. Secret Service, 65% of school shootings up to that point involved a gun obtained from a teen's home or that of a close relative.