Talking Points Booklet: Storage & Access Regulations
Storage & Access Regulations
Texas law generally criminalizes allowing a child to access a readily dischargeable firearm. Specifically, this penalty would apply if a child – defined as anyone under 17 years old – gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm, and the person failed to secure the firearm (for example, in a safe or with a trigger lock) or left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access. A readily dischargeable firearm is any firearm that is loaded with ammunition, regardless of whether there is a round in the chamber. (See Texas Penal Code 46.13.)
If a child does gain access to a person’s gun, that person could face a Class C misdemeanor; however, if the child actually used the gun to cause serious bodily injury or death to herself or someone else, the gun owner could face a Class A misdemeanor.
There are a few exceptions – for example, if a child is at a shooting range under the supervision of an adult. However, the exceptions are listed as “defenses to prosecution.” So, you could still be charged and go to jail, and it would be your responsibility to show (at trial) that you qualify for one of these defenses. (See Texas Penal Code 46.13).
Currently, Texas law does not mandate firearm storage other than through these child access laws. However, in 2019, the Texas Legislature did pass a budget rider that appropriated one million taxpayer dollars to DPS for a public awareness campaign. DPS has used the money to run ads insinuating that gun owners must always keep their guns locked up, and that any other storage is irresponsible. These ads are being used to change public opinion about guns and to stigmatize gun ownership.
Texans’ lives depend on their ability to have ready access to their firearms. Texans must take responsibility to be well-trained and able to use their firearms safely and accurately if needed. It is up to an individual gun owner to decide how to store firearms, and it is up to parents to decide how and when to allow their children access to firearms. The government has no place in regulating firearm storage or child access to firearms, and any attempt to do so – or to turn public opinion against firearms – could cost lives.
How We Talk About This
Gun storage is an individual responsibility – not a “one-size-fits-all” legislative bill.
- Gun storage is important, but it’s not simply about locking up your guns. The principle is to control access to your gun — make sure you have access when you need it, and make sure unauthorized people never have access.
- It’s the place of parents – not government – to decide when children are ready to learn to use firearms, and there is not a one-size-fits-all-solution.
- Storage laws or regulations beg the question of whether our homes are subject to being searched based on a tip that our firearms are not stored in a safe.
Gun storage laws and regulations are dangerous.
- “Safe storage” laws don’t reduce rates of crime, suicide, or accidental death. The National Research Council found that some gun control policies may reduce suicide by gun, but do not reduce overall suicides. These policies don’t save lives. (edu/read/10881/chapter/9#192)
- John Lott and John Whitley found no support that safe-storage laws reduce juvenile gun deaths or suicides. Instead, they prevent people from defending themselves and increase violent and property crimes against law-abiding citizens. (bit.ly/37vusfb)
- Trigger locks are especially dangerous as they are very difficult to take off quickly if you need ready access to your firearm to save your life. Attackers won’t wait. Attackers don’t show up with locks on their guns, they show up ready to attack.
- Guns are a valuable tool to save your life, and Americans use guns to defend themselves hundreds to thousands of times every single day. (ly/3k4Xc3i, page 40)
- Don’t discourage Texans from having access to a gun they might need to save their lives, and don’t mislead Texans about what will actually keep them safe.
See also “Constitutional Carry” and “Ending ‘Gun-Free’ Zones” sections.
Texans of all ages successfully use guns to save lives.
- In 2020, a 13-year-old boy in Brownwood saved his grandma’s life when he shot an attacker who was actively assaulting her. (ly/3k39N7d)
- Two teenagers near saved their mom’s life because they were able to retrieve a gun and shoot her boyfriend who was choking her. (ly/2M9BWNm)
- But unfortunately, 14-year-old Jessica Carpenter had to watch her two younger siblings get stabbed to death by a madman with a pitchfork. She was well trained in firearms, but she couldn’t access her family’s guns because they were locked up due to California’s “safe storage” laws. (org/op0132/)
WATCHING: HB 693 by Rep. Moody deals with children’s access to firearms (see discussion above on Texas Penal Code 46.13). It raises the penalty to a Third Degree felony if someone allows a child to gain access (as described in Penal Code 46.13) and the child causes serious bodily injury or death to someone who does not live with the child.
- Raises the child access age from 17 to 18. We OPPOSE this.
- Adds an exception to the child access ban if the parent or guardian authorized the firearm use and it was for hunting, sporting, or other lawful purposes. An exception is a much stronger protection than the current defense to prosecution. We SUPPORT this language.
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