“There is a widespread misconception that if you talk to your child about guns they will know enough about how to act around a gun. The problem is, they are still children and studies show, over and over, they will not act as an adult will around a gun,” says Laura Cutilletta, a senior staff attorney with Legal Community Against Violence, a public interest law center dedicated to preventing gun violence, located in San Francisco.
More problematic is that Lane attended an alternative school for students who are evaluated as a high risk for “substance abuse/chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies,” according to the school's website. All are red flags that should have made the family weapon more difficult to obtain, says Jennie Lintz, acting executive director of The Center to Prevent Youth Violence in New York City.
“If you have a child perceived at risk, then we need to take special precautions. We encourage parents of teenagers to remove things from their house like guns or medication and if that’s not possible than they have to do a very, very good job to make them not accessible,” Ms. Lintz says.
Twenty-eight states have Child Access Prevention laws that make adults liable if it is determined that children were able to access their firearms, although the liability depends on certain factors that vary by state. For example, only six states — Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas — makes adults liable whether or not the child uses the firearm to cause injury, while eight other states punish adults only if the firearm is used. Other states impose liability if the weapon is not stored property.