Kansas and Missouri lawmakers discuss children's access to firearms

Kansas and Missouri lawmakers discuss children's access to firearms
Posted at 5:35 AM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 06:35:29-04

Kansas and Missouri lawmakers are discussing rules regarding children's access to firearms and if parents should be responsible. 

Missouri is one of several states where proposals to punish adults in cases where children gained access to unsecured weapons have stalled in the Legislature.

The issue arises after Missouri has recorded six children ages 3 and under dying in accidental shootings between 2014 and 2016. The Associated Press and the USA TODAY Network examined cases across the country in which children killed themselves or other children with unsecured firearms.

Missouri law makes it a misdemeanor to sell, lease, loan, or give a firearm to a minor without the parent's or guardian's consent.

During the just completed session, several Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation to prevent minors from possessing firearms and setting punishments for people who sell, lease or transport guns to them. None of the proposals got a floor debate.

Although Kansas has recorded four accidental shooting deaths of young children between 2014 and 2016, legislators have shown little interest in laws that would punish adults who allow children access to guns.

Data compiled by The Associated Press and USA Network found at least 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws dealing with negligent storage of firearms. Researchers found the laws are enforced in widely varying ways.

Kansas' law against child endangerment makes it a crime to "knowingly and unreasonably" cause or permit children to be situations in which the child is endangered. But the law doesn't mention firearms.

Public health experts say child access laws could reduce unintentional shootings that kill and injure hundreds of children every year. Critics say the laws violate gun owners' rights.