When the story about Tuesday's Crestview shooting was posted online, the majority of those commenting believed the gun owner should face criminal charges.
CRESTVIEW — The owner of a handgun that was stolen by a 15-year-old and used to shoot another juvenile will not be charged with a crime, according to Florida law.
Tuesday, a boy allegedly stole a loaded handgun out of an unlocked car and used it to shoot a 13-year-old at a school bus stop in Crestview, according to police. Florida Statute 790.174 “Safe Storage of a Firearm Required” — the state's only law on firearm security — requires a gun owner to secure their weapon in a locked box, in a “secure” location, or with a trigger lock on the gun if a minor is likely to gain access to the weapon in the gun owner’s home.
“That (statute) basically provides that a person should keep that gun under control so that it cannot be accessed by a minor,” said Okaloosa County Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Bishop. “This statute only deals with a minor being allowed to access that firearm and then if the minor is able to obtain the firearm and then use it in some sort of reckless display of a firearm, then the gun owner can be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing that minor to obtain the firearm."
The statute doesn’t apply, however, to those under the age of 16 who steal an unsecured weapon. And the law also doesn’t apply to adults at all; gun owners who leave their guns unsecured will face no repercussions if an adult takes their weapon and uses it unlawfully or recklessly.
Therefore, according to Florida law, the only time a gun owner can face criminal charges for leaving a weapon unsecured on their property is if a child of theirs – or a juvenile invited into the home – takes the unsecured weapon and uses it, or threatens to use it.
The violation is a misdemeanor, even if the unsecured weapon results in a death.
“Under the statute it is a second-degree misdemeanor, which means that a person can be charged up to 60 days in jail and up to six months of probation for that offense,” Bishop said.
When the story about Tuesday's Crestview shooting was posted online, the majority of those commenting believed the gun owner should face criminal charges. Some thought that the juvenile who allegedly stole the weapon was responsible, not the gun owner.
“The owner of the gun and unlocked vehicle needs to be charged with a crime,” Ben Parker wrote on Facebook. “The owner was negligent in not securing both items. If the owner is a CCW (Concealed Carry Permit) holder, their permit should be revoked. The 13-year-old boy’s parents needs to sue the owner for negligence."