Unfortunately gun injuries do happen. When responsible gun owners are injured by malfunctioning firearms, or innocent children gain access to irresponsible gun owners’ weapons, it is a harmful situation that requires expert attention.
Gun control and liability can involve various areas of personal injury law. Examples can include but are not limited to:
- Gun injuries to minors and children
- Injuries and fatalities caused by accidental or negligent discharge of a gun
- Injury and fatality caused by the negligent distribution of guns
Gun Laws don’t always prevent the horrific reality of a gun accident. Estimates as recent as late 2016 state that gun accidents kill at least one child every other day in the U.S.
Gun accidents happen when owners fail to properly store them away from children, but other factors could be at play as well. Some say gun manufacturers and industry should find ways to make safer products. Others say the government should create policy so guns don’t get into the wrong hands at the wrong time, with the wrong design.
Personal Injury and Gun Law
Multiple factors can lead to a tragic gun accident. Read on to see who is most likely to be injured accidentally by a firearm, and why guns may not always be safe for consumers.
Children around the age of three are most likely to die in a accidental shooting accident. A vast majority of early childhood shooting deaths are self inflicted. These accidents most often happen at the child’s home,
with handguns owned by adults for the use of self-protection.
Children and Gun Injury
According to a joint study from Associated Press and USA Today, minors around the ages of 3-4 and later in life at 15-17 are most commonly involved in firearm injury.
There is a large spike in deaths to children between the ages of 3 and 4. The report showed that children of this age were able to access their parents’ unsecured loaded guns. Reports show that they were more likely to point the gun back at their own faces, resulting in a fatal shot.
A spike among minors between the ages of 15 through 17 were most commonly among groups of teenagers who obtained a gun, and it accidentally goes off killing a sibling or a friend.
National Policy and Gun Laws
The right to bear arms has been a part of being American. But back in when 1788 when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the vast majority of firearms were long, single-shot rifles. The modern technology used in high-powered weapons wasn’t necessarily a consideration in the late 19th century.
A gang-related massacre of seven men who possessed sub-machine guns in 1929 flipped the dialogue on gun ownership. Several years later, Congress passed the National Firearms Act in 1934. That began regulation of arms with the registry and taxation of guns used primarily in criminal settings to deter dangerous criminal activity.
Much later in the 1960s, a string of high profile assisinations (including President John Kennedy, Malcom X, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King) prompted the Gun Control Act of 1968. This act, passed by Congress under President Lyndon Johnson, banned the sale of firearms to many groups found inside the U.S. including:
- Felons, Fugitives, and Drug addicts
- Mentally ill people, either involuntarily committed to a mental health institution or ruled by a court unfit to live alone
- People dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military
- People who have renounced their U.S. citizenship
- Undocumented immigrants
- People subject to restraining orders against “an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner”
- People who have been convicted of domestic violence
The Gun Control Act of 1968 comes without strength to limit firearm sales to people deemed dangerous because it relies on an honor system to disclose information.
In 1986 Congress updated the law under President Ronald Reagan and the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act. This ended the manufacture of machine guns for civilian gun owners, but allowed those already in circulation to remain. It also began the now long tradition of gun dealers to operate away from their place of business, such as at a gun show. It narrowed the definition of a licensed gun dealer, and left it open for small scale sellers to keep up shop without a federal license.
A protection for sellers, that they could only be held liable for knowingly selling to ineligible buyers, made the law difficult to enforce.
In response, President Bill Clinton passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1992 which required licensed gun sellers to do a background check on gun buyers. All small scale sellers aren’t licensed gun dealers.
A second landmark decision on gun rights came from the Supreme Court in 2008 which reversed the court’s 1939 interpretation of the Second Amendment stating that the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to possess a firearm.
In Texas there are no additional restrictions to Federal regulations of owning a gun. Most of Texas’ gun law relates to carrying the firearms openly or discreetly in public. We can’t provide legal advice here on these matters, but we do want to give you the tools and information you may need about Texas’ gun laws.
Carry Laws in Texas
Up until 2015, handguns that were carried in public were required to be out of sight and safely concealed. Then the Texas Legislature made it possible for licensed handgun owners to openly carry their weapons Before the 2015 Texas legislative session handguns were not permitted on college campuses.
Concealed Carry Texas Law: On Jan. 1 of 2016 Texas switched over from issuing permits called “Concealed Handgun License” (CHL) to issuing a “License To Carry” (LTC). With an LTC a gun owner can Concealed carry of handguns is permitted on the use of public college campuses.
Open Carry is now permitted across the state in businesses and public places that do not prohibit the practice. With some exceptions, open carry is permitted where gun owners are permitted concealed carry.
What does government already do to regulate guns in Texas?
One thing is certain: there’s no consensus on gun control in the United States. The nation is divided among those who seek further restrictions on ownership and those who want existing laws to be loosened so more law-abiding citizens can possess a firearm.
There’s no end in sight in this debate, so as the landscape of gun control changes across the nation, it’s our duty as Texans to understand the laws here at home.
There’s one thing that all states have in common about gun laws – they’re all over the place. To understand gun laws as they are in 2017, let’s first go through some basic history of how Texas got its’ hands-off approach to firearm policy.
Gun Permit Texas
What’s next for Texas? It’s now legal to open carry a sword.
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Gun Manufacturer Faces $7M Personal Injury Lawsuit
- A pistol manufacturer has been named in a lawsuit claiming $7 Million in damages.
- Dallas Police Force is one of the groups raising concerns over the safety of the P320.
- The company, Sig Sauer, has issued a voluntary recall. Attorneys in the lawsuit are pointing to the move saying it is evidence of the product’s defective design.
Sig Sauer, a Swiss-German firearms manufacturer has been named in a $7M dollar personal injury lawsuit because of issues arising around a defective safety mechanism. The lawsuit follows other’s speculation of the gun’s design from other firearm enthusiasts.
The plaintiff in the case is a Connecticut police officer who was injured when his holstered P320 discharged when it hit the ground. 34-year-old Vincent Sheperis, a police officer in Stamford Connecticut, claims that flaws in the P320 design caused his injuries.
The lawsuit says that “at no time before, during or after the incident did Officer Sheperis place his finger on the P320’s trigger or touch the holstered firearm in any manner.” The details of the incident filed in the lawsuit echo the police report about the same injury. Since then, the Special Response Team has halted use of the pistol.
Dallas Police Department Halts Use of Gun Over Safety Concerns
Texas police officers in Dallas have also halted their use of the Sig P320. Similarly, they cited concerns about the device’s drop safety. Sig Sauer responded to the Dallas Police Department decision saying that there had been “zero reported drop-related P320 incidents in the U.S. commercial market.”
No injuries are known among Dallas Police Officers, and the makers of the gun have announced they will offer voluntary upgrades.
Reportedly, the firearms community buzzed about the decision, and questioned the effectiveness of the gun’s safety mechanism. In response, a firearms blogger independently investigated the issue.
Andrew Tuohy, a popular gun writer, explained that the angle at which the issue occurs is not included in industry standard tests.
He published test results in a compelling video blog post in an attempt to answer questions about the rumored dangers of the P320. In the published video, the gun can be seen firing when dropped. According to the video, the pistol can fire accidentally when dropped at a certain angle.
Gun Manufacturer Issues Voluntary Recall
Amid the safety concerns of gun owners online, Sig Sauer has now announced that free upgrades will be available to all of it’s customers. Those who want upgrades can go to sigsauer.com for more information on how to ensure their pistol is free from accidentally firing off.
Some critics of the gun industry say that it is under regulated. The Federal division that regulates guns, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, only gained leadership 3 years after a 7 year period without a director. The agency is charged with task of regulating the illegal use and sale of firearms and explosives.
The agency is permitted to inspect each federally licensed gun dealer once per year, but data shows that due to a lack of funding only 42 percent of dealers are inspected in a five-year time frame.
ATF hasn’t been able to properly regulate illegal guns, and it doesn’t hold the power to issue recalls on poorly made guns.
Unlike other products, when a defect in products causes injuries or deaths a federal government agency can step in to issue a recall and protect consumers from the danger. But there’s a regulatory gap that allows for defective guns to remain on shelves, and to cause greater potential injury to it’s users.