Alabama parents can be held liable for child’s use of guns

Are parents responsible for what their kids do with guns?
Are parents responsible for what their kids do with guns?
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - WBRC is learning more about what could happen in Alabama if a child committed a crime with their parent’s gun.

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr said it is a case by case basis, but in some, parents can be held liable in court for their child’s actions. Carr said it all starts with how the child got the gun.

“What we are looking at under the law is accountability for the behavior of another person,” Carr said. “It’s important that they keep it in a lock, that they keep it safe and away from their kid, because they do have that responsibility.”

Carr said parents can be legally responsible if your child gets a hold of their gun and commits a crime. He said there is not a strict liability portion of Alabama law for parents, but depends negligence. He said the law contemplates circumstances and the age of the child.

“The law talks about parents as the responsible person, the responsible person for that child, and under having that responsibility, do they have a duty? Yes they do,” Carr said. “It starts with how did that child get the gun and what were the circumstances of which the child obtained that weapon. Did they leave it out on the kitchen table or was it just easily accessible to that child and in those instances, there may be some culpability.”

Carr said its important to lock up firearms no matter how old the kids in your house are, but in Alabama, no one under the age of 14 can be tried as an adult.

“If you’re under seven, there’s a presumption that you are incapable of committing a crime in Alabama,” Carr said. “If you’re between ages seven and 14, then you are presumed capable.”

With gun permits now not required in Alabama, Carr said it’s important to have safe gun storage.

“There are concerns about who has a gun period,” he said. “Be responsible with how you lock that weapon up.”

Carr stresses along with safely locking up your firearms inside to keep them safe from children, you also don’t want to leave them in your car or garage, any place that someone else could access it.

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