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Inexcusable Gaps in Ohio Law Lets Adults Leave Unsecured Guns Around Children

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On July 5, 2012, Noah was at the home of his friend, Levi, who lived with his grandparents. The boys were left alone with Levi’s seventeen-year-old sister and were searching around for a lighter to explode some leftover fireworks.

Instead of a lighter, Levi found a .45-caliber handgun in his grandfather’s bedroom.

Levi removed the clip. Not knowing a bullet remained in the chamber, he pointed the gun at his friend and pulled the trigger.

Seconds later, Noah was dead.

On October 29, Jodi Sandoval, Noah’s mother, will testify in favor of House Bill 31, which would require “safe storage” or a trigger lock on guns when the gun owner “knows or reasonably should know a minor is able to gain access to the firearm.”

Inexplicably, Ohio has no “safe storage” law. A magnificent piece in the New York Times documented that accidental shootings result in twice as many child firearm deaths as records show.

In Ohio, records show twenty-one children under age fifteen were killed in accidental gun deaths between 1999 and 2012. Because of irregularities in how child shooting deaths are reported, the Times found the Ohio child death count was actually forty-seven, more than double what the public has been told.

That story gave lie to the National Rifle Association‘s assertion that most child deaths were caused by adult criminals mishandling guns. Instead, a “vast majority” of the deaths were caused by another child or accidentally self-inflicted.

Democratic State Rep. Bill Patmon, the author of H.B. 31, is under no illusion that the Republican-run legislature, a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby, will pass his bill. But he said Noah’s death was “a classic example of how, if the gun had been stored, this wouldn’t have happened.” And the grandfather who left the handgun lying behind a television set would have ended up in jail.

Because Ohio has no safe storage law, convicting the grandfather of a crime related to Noah’s death would have been highly unlikely.

So, lacking a safe storage law, prosecutors charged Levi as a juvenile. He was convicted of reckless homicide and placed on probation for a year.

“I objected to them charging Levi with anything,” said Jodi, “He’s going to have to forever live with the fact he killed his friend. He’s never going to be able to erase the vision of Noah dying. That’s enough punishment. Levi is not a criminal.”

But the law now considers him one.

And any legislator involved in killing this bill might as well be considered one also.

Via Cleveland.com. Many thanks to Brent Larkin for writing his piece about the gaping hole in Ohio gun laws.

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