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Old December 22, 2012, 11:33 AM   #90
Spats McGee
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 6,913
Originally Posted by colbad
To the question of how I define "fail to secure".

I would define this as being "any firearm that was not under the immediate control of the owner that would permit unauthorized use". . . .
I have to nitpick just a little. What you have defined is what you would require to be secured, but it does not define "fail to secure."

Originally Posted by colbad
. . . .Certainly the ideal situation is to put the firearm in some type of lockable container that denies unauthorized access as well as theft. Yes, I know that given enough time and resources any container can eventually be defeated, but that is not the point. The point is reasonable care to keep it from being stolen or used without authorization. Keeping it from being stolen is admittedly harder to prevent than unauthorized use w/o having a safe, but most any lockable box.....even a suitcase is better than the dresser drawer. However, I would rather have it stolen with a trigger lock than in a ready to use mode.
MLeake already pointed this out, using cars as an example. As a broader proposition, though, why should the owner of private property be held liable for the criminal use of his property, when that property was: (a) stolen from him; and (b) used by some (criminal) third party to commit a crime?

For example, just over three years ago, I got a 1911, a Springfield Arms GI model. I'd wanted a 1911 for about 25 years, but had never gotten around, or gotten the funds together, to get one. I took it out to shoot once, and it shot just like I'd always hoped one would -- beautifully. About 2 or 3 weeks later, I cleaned it, carved a spot in the foam inside the hard case for an extra magazine, and loaded up a couple of magazines with hollow-points. I put a padlock on the case, and tucked it away under my side of the bed. About two days later, on October 30, 2009, the morning before Halloween, as I was just about to leave for work, I remember two things: (a) that it was 7:40 a.m.; and (b) that the edge of the case stuck out from under the edge of the bed just a little. My family and I had lived in that house for ~10 years, with no sign of real trouble in the neighborhood. (There were a few unruly kids, and maybe one or two break-ins within that ~10-year span, but that was about it.)

About three hours later, I got a call from my wife, who said that she thought someone had been inside our house. She had gone in (yes, I know), and couldn't find the gun. I went home and checked out the house (yes, I know). Sure enough, my gun had been stolen, hard case, padlock and all. (Interestingly, that was the only thing the thief (or thieves) took, in spite of several targets of opportunity being in plain sight.) I called the police and reported it immediately. It still has not turned up.

I do not have a clue if it has been used in a crime, but it wouldn't surprise me if it had. (Halloween is a prime night for committing crimes, and I remember thinking, "Whoa, someone's about to totally [insert inappropriate language] up someone else's Halloween.") Why should I be held responsible for whatever crimes have been committed with it? Regardless of whether the steps that I took (locking the case, locking the house, etc.) would be considered "reasonable" by a court, I took no part in the planning, or commission of said crimes, nor did I give permission, or in any way acquiesce in their commission. All I did was own a gun that I left in the house while I was away. I was the victim of a crime.

Originally Posted by colbad
. . . . However, when you leave in the morning take it with you, put it in a safe/lock box or put a trigger lock on it. . . . .
I did. Even if I hadn't, though, see above.

Originally Posted by colbad
. . . .Just as there are penalties such as "reckless endangerment" for improper discharge of a firearm and other activities that endanger the public, the same can be extended to incidents where firearms are left unsecured. Not real hard to craft some legislative language here. . . . .
As you note, there are already penalties for "reckless endangerment." How is owning a gun, or keeping it in your house, unlocked and outside a safe, when one is not present, "reckless?" Is it really reckless not to predict that one will be the victim of a crime?

Originally Posted by colbad
. . . I think unless the shooting public voluntarily recognizes that owning a gun also requires a means of preventing theft, law makers will make the decisions for us. . . .
Why is a gun any different that any other item of personal property in this regard? If I own a chain saw, should I be required to keep it locked so as to avoid having some lunatic steal it and go on a rampage? Or even just an otherwise ordinary guy who decides to kill his ex-wife's new husband? How about lawn mowers, hedge clippers, kitchen knives, gasoline, automobiles, . . . ?

What you are suggesting is called "appeasement." It doesn't work. The pro-gun crowd has been subjected to restriction after restriction. No number of laws will affect the criminal element. They will always be out there, and they will always commit crimes. More appeasement only serves to ensure that their victims are defenseless, and that the anti-gun crowd will continue to cry for more and more restrictions.

Originally Posted by colbad
. . . .I personally feel that a safe is mandatory and have bought a few less guns in order to buy the safe. I really can't think of a situation why one would not use a trigger lock it the firearm was not in their immediate possession and did not have a lockable container.
Don't misunderstand me. Gun safes are a good idea. Trigger locks are a good idea. Mandating them and criminal penalties for those who do not use them are not.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
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