The Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement applauding the Maine State House of Representatives for passing a bill to keep children safe from loaded guns in their own homes. The bill, LD 759, would hold negligent gun owners accountable for endangering children by making it a crime to leave a loaded gun in a place the person knows, or should know, a child is likely to access it if a child accesses, uses, or discharges the weapon.
“Gun owners in Maine know that securely storing firearms is a critical component of responsible firearm ownership,” said Maura Pillsbury, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action. “From teen sucide to unintentional shooting deaths and injuries, unsecured guns pose an extreme risk to the safety of Maine’s children that requires action. We thank the Maine House for taking action and passing this crucial piece of legislation that will save young lives and promote the secure storage of firearms in our state, and are calling on the Senate and Governor Mills to support this important bill.”
About the Bill:
- LD 759 would make it a crime for the owner of a firearm to leave the loaded weapon in a place the person knows, or should know, a child is likely to access it if a child actually accesses and uses or discharges the weapon.
- The bill contains a number of exemptions including:
- If the firearm is securely stored in a locked safe or with a trigger lock;
- If the firearm is being carried by its owner;
- If the weapon is stolen or accessed by an illegal act (i.e. if a minor gains access to a firearm by trespassing in the owner’s home or gains access to a gun that was previously stolen from it’s lawful owner);
- If the weapon is used by a child to defend themselves or someone else from an imminent threat.
Firearms are the second leading cause of death for children under 18 in the U.S. An estimated 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded gun. Every year, nearly 350 children under 18 gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else and another 700 die by gun suicide—most often with a gun that belongs to a family member. During the COVID-19 pandemic, unintentional shooting deaths by children increased over 30 percent in March to December 2020, compared to the same months in 2019. Research has shown that laws that hold gun owners accountable for child access lowered the risk of unintentional firearm deaths among children under the age of 15 by 23 percent. And states with these laws saw an 11 percent decrease in firearm suicide rates among teens aged 14 to 17.