Current Laws

Courtesy of


There are NO child access prevention laws at the federal level, and federal law does not generally require gun owners to safely store their guns.


Child access prevention (CAP) laws impose criminal liability on adults who give children unsupervised access to firearms.  Researchers have found that millions of children live in homes with easily accessible guns.  Approximately one of three handguns is kept loaded and unlocked and most children know where their parents keep their guns.

The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of both unintentional gun injuries and intentional shootings.  A 1999 study found that more than 75% of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.3  At least two studies have found that the risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.


States Imposing Criminal Liability When a Child “May” or “Is Likely To” Gain Access to the Firearm:

California, Massachusetts, Minnesota

States Imposing Criminal Liability for Allowing a Child to Gain Access to the Firearm, Regardless of Whether the Child Uses the Firearm or Causes Injury:

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas

States Imposing Criminal Liability Only if a Child Uses or Carries the Firearm:

Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, North CarolinaRhode Island

Twenty-seven states and D.C. have enacted some type of child access prevention law:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIllinois,
IndianaIowaKentuckyMarylandMassachusettsMinnesotaMississippi, NevadaNew Hampshire,New JerseyNorth CarolinaOklahomaRhode IslandTennesseeTexasUtahVirginiaWisconsin

Framework for new state policies:

  • Criminal liability is imposed on persons who negligently store firearms under circumstances where minors could gain access to the firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains access to or uses the firearm (California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, District of Columbia)
  • Criminal liability is imposed on persons who negligently store firearms even when the firearm is unloaded (Hawaii, Massachusetts, District of Columbia)
  • Civil liability for damages resulting from the discharge of a firearm is imposed on persons who negligently store firearms when a minor gains access
  • “Minor” is defined as a child under the age of 18 for long guns (Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah), and a person under the age of 21 for handguns, for purposes of the child access prevention law
  • All firearms are required to be stored with a locking device in place(Massachusetts)