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Legislation changing firearm storage law draws some opposition

Gun rights advocates oppose legislation revising the law on storage requirements for firearms.

State Rep. Sean Lynn is sponsoring legislation overhauling the law that seeks to prevent children from getting access to loaded guns. The bill expands that to include people barred by the state from having a gun. Lynn sponsored a similar bill last year, but it died in the Senate.

Lynn said the idea is to make sure people who shouldn’t have access to a loaded gun don’t get ahold of one.

“It really is to catch within its net irresponsible gun owners who have a loaded firearm and leave it in a place where someone who has a mental health issue, who’s been involuntarily committed, who’s a felon and thereby a person prohibited, or kid can’t get that firearm,” he said.

But Mitch Denham said he has multiple problems with the proposal. He said a thief could break in a storage box and steal a gun. Then an owner would have to prove he had secured it properly to avoid being charged with a crime.

“That’s really the problem is that the burden of proof falls on the homeowner or the gun owner that they did the right thing and the criminal always just going to do the wrong because they’re a criminal,” he said.

Lynn disputes Denham’s reading of his bill, saying gun owners aren’t criminally liable if someone breaks in their house and steals their gun.

Not securing a loaded gun under the measure is a Class B misdemeanor. But it rises a Class A misdemeanor if the prohibited person uses the weapon to commit a crime, including murder. It also bars the transfer of firearms between unauthorized people.

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