Ohioans who fail to lock up their guns around children could face punishment

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An Ohio lawmaker wants the state to join 27 other states that have adopted Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws which allow prosecutors to punish irresponsible gun owners who don't lock up their guns and allow children to shoot them.

Under Senate Bill 279, it would make it a felony of the third degree if a child injures or kills someone using a gun that was not properly stored.

State Senator Charleta Tavares (D) Columbus, says while the bill has failed in the past, she is optimistic the bill can garner bipartisan support in the wake of the school shooting in Florida.

"I don't know why anyone would be push back this is common sense gun legislation," she said.

Under her bill, no person shall store or leave a firearm where the person knows or reasonably should know that a minor is able to gain access to the firearm.

It also requires licensed firearm dealers to inform a gun purchaser at the time of sale, that it is in violation of state law to improperly store a firearm in a location accessible to a minor.

Mike Falk is a Columbus gun dealer who sees no issue with the proposed law.

"That's not asking too much that's pretty common sense," he said.

Critics of the bill say self-storage laws are ineffective and won't change the behavior of those who don't follow the laws.

They also question, if the bill would put a legal gun owner's safety at risk if they can't access their gun immediately if an intruder breaks in.

Prosecutors already have the authority to charge someone with reckless homicide or negligent homicide in cases where someone is shot, but the burden to prove recklessness is often difficult, and many cases are never prosecuted.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says if the law states, "all guns in the house shall be secured, then that can make a much clearer case."

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