A Los Angeles woman is facing four misdemeanor chargers after her 17-year-old son brought one of her firearms to school earlier this year, local media is reporting.
Leah Wilcken’s son brought a .45 caliber pistol along with some ammunition to Will Rogers Continuation School in Van Nuys, California, back in May.
“This was particularly disconcerting because this young man, who allegedly had the gun, had had an altercation with another student just the day before,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
Authorities obtained a search warrant and located five firearms in the residence.
“One was found in the kitchen cabinet right next to the sink. The other ones were found in the dresser drawer, and behind a dresser,” said Deputy City Attorney Greg Dorfman.
Under California’s safe storage laws, one must keep their firearms safely stored if they know that children are present.
Now Wilcken is being charged with allowing a child to carry a firearm off-premises; allowing a child to take a firearm to school; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; and permitting a child to be placed in a situation where their person or health is endangered, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Each count carries up to a year behind bars and a $1,000 fine.
Apparently, this is the first time authorities are prosecuting a parent for failing to safely secure a firearm.
Obviously this incident raises questions about culpability. Who is to blame? Certainly, the teenage son bears responsibility. But what about the mother? Should she be on the hook as well?
According to CriminalDefenseLawyer.com, there are some defenses for criminal storage of a firearm, but none seem to apply in this case:
- the child obtained the firearm as a result of an illegal entry onto the premises, such as if the child is a burglar or trespasser
- the gun is kept in a locked container, such as gun locker, or other secure location, or is carried on the body
- the firearm is locked with a locking device
- the defendant is a police officer or military personnel and the child obtains the firearm during the performance of the defendant’s official duties
- the child obtains the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another person, or
- the defendant had no reasonable expectation that a child would be present on the premises.
(Cal. Pen. Code, § 25105.) For example, if the defendant never had any children in his home and never invited any children into his home, but while he was out of town, the neighbor who was bringing in the mail unexpectedly allowed a child to come into the defendant’s home and the child found a gun, then the defendant may be able to avoid a conviction for criminal storage by showing that he or she had no reasonable expectation that a child would come into the home.
Overall, what are your thoughts about safe storage laws? If your teen brings a firearm to school, should you be held liable?