Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Can You Really Go to Jail for Improper Storage of a Firearm in Massachusetts?

One of the first things people learn in gun safety courses is the proper storage of firearms. All responsible gun owners can agree that storing your firearms is incredibly important, especially if you have children in your home. But can you really go to jail for improper storage of a firearm in Massachusetts? The answer may surprise you.


Man Faces Up to 12 Years After Boy Fatally Shot by Improperly Stored Firearm


A man in Boston is now facing a maximum sentence of 12 years after a fatal accident involving improper storage of a firearm. The 22-year-old defendant stored his firearm in a fanny pack in a residence where a 12-year-old child had easy access to it. All reports seem to indicate that the child accidentally shot himself in the chest with the weapon after taking it out of the fanny pack. The gunshot wound proved to be fatal. 


As a result, the defendant has been charged with improper storage of a firearm near a minor, an offense that comes with a maximum prison sentence of 12 years. The minimum sentence is 1.5 years in prison. Alternatively, a jail sentence of between 1 and 2.5 years may be possible, plus a fine of up to $15,000. 


How Should I Store My Firearm in Boston?


Massachusetts has strict guidelines on how guns should be stored. You essentially have two options: Install a locking device directly onto the firearm itself, or lock the firearm in some kind of container. If you choose the second option, you do not need to install a safety lock on the firearm itself. In addition, authorities in Massachusetts "recommend" that you store ammo and guns separately – although this is not explicitly required. 


A safety device installed directly onto the weapon must prevent the firearm from discharging. There are specific firearm locks available, and these may be installed directly onto the trigger guards. With the trigger disabled, the firearm is not operable. A gun lock may also be looped through the firearm in a manner that holds its bolt open, preventing the firing pin from moving forward. Many gun owners use bike locks in this manner. Some might argue that a zip tie is also acceptable, although it is best to use a more secure option. Guns may also be "disabled" by removing certain components and storing them separately. For example, you might remove the bolt on a bolt-action hunting rifle. However, authorities in Massachusetts make it clear that a locking safety device is the only acceptable option. 


One might argue that if the aforementioned defendant had put a simple lock on the zip of his fanny pack, he might have avoided the tragedy. However, it is not clear whether this locked fanny pack would classify as a proper "container" under Massachusetts law. In reality, the wording refers primarily to gun safes or hard-shelled, tough gun cases. 


Where Can I Find an xperienced Defense Attorney in Massachusetts?


If you have been searching for a Boston defense attorney who can help with firearm offenses, look no further than the Law Office of Edward R. Molari. We know that it might seem ridiculous to face charges simply because you forgot to secure your firearms on a single occasion, but legal consequences are a real possibility in this situation. Book your consultation today to discuss potential defense strategies geared toward your unique situation.