Child access prevention law

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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, since they reduce accessibility and thereby risk. 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.[1][2]

Federal laws[edit]

There is no federal CAP law, nor the federal law requires the safe storage of the guns.[3] However, according to Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, it is unlawful for any licensed gun carrier to transfer firearms without safe storage.[3]

State laws[edit]

As of 2019, 27 states in the United States, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (effective July 1, 2019), Wisconsin had enacted a CAP law.[4] 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.[5] In Massachusetts, all firearms are required to be stored using locking device[6], and children unsupervised access to handgun result $5,000 fine and/or 2.5 years in jail.[7]


A 1997 study found that CAP laws were associated with a 23% decrease in accidental shooting deaths among children younger than 15 years old.[8] 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.[9] A 2004 study found that CAP laws were associated with a "modest reduction in suicide rates among youth aged 14 to 17 years."[10] A 2006 study found that states with CAP laws experienced faster declines in accidental child firearm deaths than states without such laws.[11] 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.[12] Another study also points out that prevalence of guns might possibly affect suicide rates in general. [13] Some studies have also found that CAP laws are associated with lower rates of nonfatal gun injuries among children under the age of 18.[14][15]

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.[16]

CAP laws, along with other strict firearm laws, are also associated with lower rates of unsafe gun storage among parents of preschool-age children.[17] These laws are not always applied whenever they could be, and sometimes minors are charged instead.[18] A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that CAP laws were associated with a 19 percent reduction in juvenile firearm-related homicides (while having no association with firearm-related homicides committed by adults or with non-firearm-related homicides committed by juveniles).[19] In contrast, a 2016 study found that these CAP laws were ineffective.[20]

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."[21] 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.[21]


  1. ^ Weisser, Mike (26 January 2015). "Want to Learn About Gun Safety? Just Ask the NRA". Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  2. ^ Granda, Carlos (27 October 2015). "LA City Council passes tougher gun storage laws". ABC7. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Child Access Prevention". Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  4. ^ "Child Access Prevention". Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  5. ^ Peters, Justin (15 October 2013). "California's Strict New Access Prevention Law Won't Do Much to Stop Child Shooting Deaths". Slate. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Child Access Prevention". Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  7. ^ Jacobs, James B.; Potter, Kimberly A. (1995). "Keeping Guns out of the "Wrong" Hands: The Brady Law and the Limits of Regulation". The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-). 86 (1): 93. doi:10.2307/1144001. ISSN 0091-4169.
  8. ^ Cummings, P; Grossman, DC; Rivara, FP; Koepsell, TD (1 October 1997). "State gun safe storage laws and child mortality due to firearms". JAMA. 278 (13): 1084–6. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550130058037. PMID 9315767.
  9. ^ Webster, DW; Starnes, M (December 2000). "Reexamining the association between child access prevention gun laws and unintentional shooting deaths of children". Pediatrics. 106 (6): 1466–9. doi:10.1542/peds.106.6.1466. PMID 11099605.
  10. ^ Webster, Daniel W. (4 August 2004). "Association Between Youth-Focused Firearm Laws and Youth Suicides". JAMA. 292 (5): 594–601. doi:10.1001/jama.292.5.594. PMID 15292085.
  11. ^ Hepburn, Lisa; Azrael, Deborah; Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David (August 2006). "The Effect of Child Access Prevention Laws on Unintentional Child Firearm Fatalities, 1979-2000". The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. 61 (2): 423–428. doi:10.1097/01.ta.0000226396.51850.fc.
  12. ^ Gius, Mark (June 2015). "The impact of minimum age and child access prevention laws on firearm-related youth suicides and unintentional deaths". The Social Science Journal. 52 (2): 168–175. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2015.01.003.
  13. ^ Kleck, Gary; Patterson, E. Britt (09/01/1993). "The Impact of Gun Control and Gun Ownership Levels on Violence Rates". Journal of quantitative criminology. 9: 249–287 – via JSTOR. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ DeSimone, Jeffrey; Markowitz, Sara; Xu, Jing (July 2013). "Child Access Prevention Laws and Nonfatal Gun Injuries". Southern Economic Journal. 80 (1): 5–25. doi:10.4284/0038-4038-2011.333.
  15. ^ Simonetti, Joseph A.; Rowhani-Rahbar, Ali; Mills, Brianna; Young, Bessie; Rivara, Frederick P. (August 2015). "State Firearm Legislation and Nonfatal Firearm Injuries". American Journal of Public Health. 105 (8): 1703–1709. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302617. PMC 4504301. PMID 26066935.
  16. ^ "What works to reduce gun deaths". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  17. ^ Prickett, KC; Martin-Storey, A; Crosnoe, R (June 2014). "State firearm laws, firearm ownership, and safety practices among families of preschool-aged children". American Journal of Public Health. 104 (6): 1080–6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301928. PMC 4061995. PMID 24825210.
  18. ^ Faulkenberry, JG; Schaechter, J (September 2015). "Reporting on pediatric unintentional firearm injury--who's responsible". The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. 79 (3 Suppl 1): S2–8. doi:10.1097/ta.0000000000000676. PMID 26308117.
  19. ^ Mark, Anderson, D.; J, Sabia, Joseph; Erdal, Tekin, (2018-11-01). "Child Access Prevention Laws and Juvenile Firearm-Related Homicides". NBER. doi:10.3386/w25209.
  20. ^ Kalesan, Bindu; Mobily, Matthew E; Keiser, Olivia; Fagan, Jeffrey A; Galea, Sandro (March 2016). "Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study". The Lancet. 387: 1847–1855. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)01026-0. PMID 26972843.
  21. ^ a b Spies, Mike (13 October 2016). "Academic Who Helped Design the NRA's Child Gun Safety Program Says the Group Is Misusing It". The Gunfighters. The Trace. Retrieved 20 February 2018. Lisa Monroe says Eddie Eagle was never intended to be a substitute for safe storage laws.