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Minor in Possession of a Gun Laws

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Can a Minor Possess a Gun?

Whether or not a minor may legally possess a handgun or other firearm depends on the law of the specific state: 

  • California Law: 
    • Minors under 18 may not possess handguns without parental permission or authorized supervision.  However, there are no laws regulating a minor's possession of rifles or shotguns.
    • You cannot sell or give handguns to minors under 21, and other firearms to minors under 18, unless for supervised loans of firearms or for limited lawful activities, such as hunting.
  • Florida Law: 
    • Minors under 18 may not possess any firearm without parental permission or authorized supervision.
    • No selling or giving firearms to minors under 18, unless for supervised loans of firearms or for limited lawful activities, such as hunting.
  • Illinois Law: 
    • Minors under 18 may not possess handguns without parental permission or authorized supervision, but they may possess other firearms if they have a state issued license.
    • It is legal to sell or give firearms other than handguns to minors holding a state license card, or for limited lawful activities, such as hunting.
  • New York Law: 
    • Minors under 21 may not possess handguns, and minors under 16 may not possess any other firearms without parental permission or authorized supervision.
    • No selling or giving firearms to minors under 19, unless for supervised loans of firearms or for limited lawful activities, such as hunting.
  • Texas Law: 
    • There are no state laws prohibiting a minor from possessing firearms, including handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons.  Minors do not even need parental permission to be in possession of a firearm.
    • No selling or giving firearms to minors under 18, unless for supervised loans of firearms or for limited lawful activities, such as hunting.

Can a Parent Be Held Criminally Liable for a Minor's Possession of a Gun?

Some states will hold a gun owner criminally liable for a minor's possession of a gun, and the penalties for the offense vary depending on state law: 

  • California
    • It is an offense to store or leave a loaded firearm within easy access of a minor (under the age of 18), where the minor obtains unauthorized access to the firearm and the minor threatens someone, injures someone, or carries the firearm off the premises.  The law does not apply if the firearm was stored in a locked or secure container or had a child-safety lock.
    • Penalty - misdemeanor or felony, depending on circumstances
  • Florida
    • It is a crime to store or leave a loaded firearm within the easy access of a minor (under 16) if the minor gains access to the gun.  The law doesn't apply if the firearm is kept in a locked box, secured with a child-safety lock
    • Penalty - misdemeanor or felony if the minor injures someone
  • Illinois
    • It is an offense to store or leave a loaded firearm in a way that allows a minor child (under 14) to gain unauthorized access to the firearm and use it to injure or kill.  The law does not apply if the firearm is secured by a child- safety lock and is placed in a locked box or some other location that a reasonable person would believe to be secured from a minor.
    • Penalty - misdemeanor
  • New York
    • Gun owners are not accountable for leaving a loaded firearm within easy access of a minor, even if the firearm is then used to injure or kill.
  • Texas
    • It is an offense to fail to secure a readily dischargeable firearm or to leave the firearm in a place which one knew or should have known that a minor would gain access and a minor (under 17) gains access to the firearm.
    • Penalty - misdemeanor

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Possession of a Gun Problem?

If you are accused of a criminal offense, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-09-2016 02:20 PM PDT

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