Those who have been advocating for stricter laws around the safe storage of guns and ammunition were pleased with the signing of a new law in May of this year that adds a penalty for those convicted of unsafe storage of a loaded weapon.
Unfortunately, that law was spurred by the death of a 16-year-old girl in Great Mills. She was fatally shot in 2018 by another teen who brought his father’s gun to school. The law, named “Jaelynn’s law” after the girl, was one of a multitude of laws passed by the legislature and signed so far this year by Gov. Wes Moore. It takes effect this Oct. 1.
What changes does Jaelynn’s law make?
Under Jaelynn’s law, if someone is convicted two or more times for violating of the current safe gun storage law, they can be prohibited from owning a regulated firearm for five years. If a violation results in “death or serious bodily injury to the minor or another person,” that violation alone can result in the loss of the right to possess a firearm.
The new law also amends the statute on safe gun storage, which we discussed here back in January, by raising the age of a child for purposes of this law from 16 to 17. The teen who killed Jaelynn was 17.
That safe gun storage law deals with leaving a loaded firearm in a location where they knew or should have known that a child could access it. That law is still a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.
As we noted back in January, laws are always subject to change. Certainly, there’s an increasing call for lawmakers to act to keep guns out of the hands of children and teens who can accidentally or intentionally harm themselves or others. If you’re facing charges related to a firearm belonging to you that caused injury or death, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights.