Child access prevention law
A child access prevention law (often abbreviated CAP law; also sometimes called a safe storage law) makes it illegal for an adult to keep a gun in a place and manner so that a child can easily access and fire it. Proponents of these laws, such as the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, argue that they are effective at reducing accidental gun deaths among children. The National Rifle Association has lobbied against such laws, arguing that they are ineffective and infringe on the rights of gun owners to protect their homes.
As of 2013, 27 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, had enacted a CAP law. In 2013, California governor Jerry Brown signed the Firearm Safe and Responsible Access Act, one of the strictest CAP laws in the United States, into law.
A 1997 study found that CAP laws were associated with a 23% decrease in accidental shooting deaths among children younger than 15 years old. A 2000 study found that Florida's CAP law appeared to have "significantly reduced unintentional firearm deaths to children," but that the similar laws that existed in 14 other states did not seem to have such an effect. At the time, only three states in the U.S., including Florida, allowed those who violated their state's CAP law to be prosecuted on felony charges. A 2004 study found that CAP laws were associated with a "modest reduction in suicide rates among youth aged 14 to 17 years." A 2006 study found that states with CAP laws experienced faster declines in accidental child firearm deaths than states without such laws. A 2015 study found that these laws have no significant impact on unintentional gun deaths, but that states with such laws had lower rates of youth suicide. Some studies have also found that CAP laws are associated with lower rates of nonfatal gun injuries among children under the age of 18.
A survey published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated that 54% of gun owners in the United States had unsafe storage of guns. Additionally, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has estimated that some 380,000 guns are stolen annually from gun owners in the United States. In a separate study, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that 18,394 guns were lost of stolen by licensed gun retailers.
CAP laws, along with other strict firearm laws, are also associated with lower rates of unsafe gun storage among parents of preschool-age children. These laws are not always applied whenever they could be, and sometimes minors are charged instead. In contrast, a 2016 study found that these CAP laws were ineffective.
Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist who promoted the stand-your-ground law, created the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program in the late 1980s as a "superior alternative to negligent storage legislation, or laws meant to punish adults when children shoot themselves or someone else with an unsecured gun." By 2016, according to the NRA, who "promotes the program to elementary schools around the country, and pushes state legislatures to pass laws that require schools to adopt the lesson", 28 million children had been gone through the Eddie Eagle program. In 2016, a NRA lobbyist testified against a safe storage bill in Tennessee, saying that the Eddie Eagle program was the best way "to reduce firearm-related accidents" regarding children.
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Lisa Monroe says Eddie Eagle was never intended to be a substitute for safe storage laws.