More than a few members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia stash guns around the home (rather than home carry). As a Second Amendment absolutist, I’m not prepared to tell any American what guns they can keep and bear and how they must (as opposed to should) store them. But —

A Woodbridge man is in jail after police found several loaded weapons within reach of two small children in a home, Prince William police spokesperson Officer Nathan Probus said.

Joshua Edward Jeffery, 31, of the 3600 block of Bracknell Drive (above), faces two counts of child endangerment and one count of reckless handling of a firearm.

Yeah I know: “reckless endangerment.” insidenova.com tells the tale:

Officers responded at 10 a.m. Saturday to Bracknell Drive for a report that a man was waving a gun in the air. A witness told police that the man appeared to be intoxicated and was walking outside his home with a rifle.

When officers made contact with Jeffery inside his home, they saw several loaded guns and ammunition accessible to two children, a 2-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, Probus said.

OK, so this isn’t a story about a law-abiding gun owner secreting guns around the house getting arrested for child endangerment. But it does highlight two important points.

1. Don’t let police into your home without a search warrant — no matter what the reason for their visit

Regardless of hidden firearms, you may have firearms-related material or other items around the house (e.g., magazines) that could be used against you. Talk to the police outside your front door.

2. Think again about leaving hidden (but not secured) guns in your home

Of course, you should instruct your children in firearms safety. And yes, some children can then be trusted around unsecured firearms. But friends, service provider or guests may find hidden guns. Worse, they may report you to the police.

Some states have safe storage laws for firearms. For anyone who knows how to read the Second Amendment, for anyone who wants to be prepared for a home invasion, these laws are an abomination. But home carry is still your best bet, no matter where you live or who lives with you.

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51 Responses to Gun Owners! Don’t Get Arrested for This!

  1. I noticed that there was a law that a child under the age of 16 was not allowed to have an (unloaded?) rifle in his room, when my son was 17. Oopsies.

    • When I was 11 about 50 years ago), I went to my grandmother’s funeral outside of Warren, Pa. We stayed at my father’s cousin’s house. IN his son’s room, there were two rifles and a shotgun on the wall by the bed, and a stack of “old” rifles in the corner of his closet. (Backwoods Pa is a very active hunting area.) gun safety was big, but just having guns around was the norm.

  2. He probably would not have been arrested for having the guns laying around if he had not been waving a rifle around, especially if he had been intoxicated. In VA “recklessly leaving firearms within access of children” is a class 3 misdemeanor, which means if that were the sole charge he had been facing he would have been released on a summons and not placed into custodial arrest.

  3. This is why you should always lock up the children, especially if they’re loaded. If it saves one gun . . . .

  4. I do not only Home carry. But also keep at least 2 guns stashed with in easy reach from anywhere in the house I might be. I also have no kids. But am sometimes concerned if a friend drops by with a small child or children. Since I’m not about to move guns while the kids are there. I do have to watch them like a hawk.

  5. Lets forget about the law for a minute.

    Its ethically WRONG to have an unsecured, loaded firearm unattended in a room with a 2 year old and a 5 year old.

    I’m all for hiding guns in homes where there aren’t children. Like I tell people in my NRA Basic Pistol class, a thief has 5 minutes to find your hidden gun. Your children have YEARS!!!

    If you have children who aren’t old enough to know not to touch guns (which pretty well covers 2 and 5 year olds) then they need to be locked up.

    I have a 7 and a 9 year old. They have been pretty much gun proofed through my actions.
    1) I stash a fake gun, that they believe to be real, around the house. If they follow the eddie the eagle rules when they find it (stop, leave the area, don’t touch, tell an adult) then they get rewarded. (going out for ice cream, movie night, etc) I run this drill about once a month.

    2) I beg them to come shooting with me pretty much every week. The kids come about once a month. The 9 year old is now shooting a Ruger 22/45 Lite and a Henry small game rifle. The 7 year old is shooting a Savage Rascal.

    Either way, guns hold no mystery for my kids. If they want to touch a gun, all they have to do is ask or just wait a few days for me to ask them to go shooting.

    Even still, all my firearms are either on my person or in a safe. And yes, I home carry. Always.

    • I have small kids at home, but I was also concerned about the possibility of coming home to a burglary and getting shot by my own firearm. Something to consider.

    • My sister has a 5, 7, and 11 year old. I trust the 5 year old more than the others. I actually trust the 5 year old enough to not secure my guns just because he is there. My other sister has a 2 and 4 year old. The 4 year old is old enough to know not to touch a gun, but not old enough to be trusted not to touch a gun.

      In fact, the only one who will come into my room without permission is the 2 year old. The others know it is not allowed and don’t do it. The 2 year old knows better but hasn’t met a form of discipline that doesn’t encourage her to dig in her heels.

      That all being said, I keep my guns locked in my gun safe when my nieces and/or nephews are over.

    • If you do choose to lock up your guns at home (and it is a choice) don’t put the keys where the kids can get at them, and use real locks, not the chintzy generic kind where you can turn the lock with the tip of a screwdriver.

      I remember the day I climbed on a chair to get to the keys on top of Dad’s gun cabinet, opened it up, looked down the barrel of a rifle to see what it looked like unloaded, then I chambered a round and looked down the barrel to see what it looked like loaded. I told Dad about it years later.

      I recommend a quick combination button press lock for fast access. That’s what I have. I can open it in less than two seconds. Of course, you also have to make sure that the kids never see you enter the combination, and if they do, you should change it straightaway.

    • Do you lock up your kitchen knives? What about the chisels, axes, chainsaws in the garage? Do you have safety drills each week about walking down stairs? Are the cans of spray paint, cleaners, thinners, bug poisons in the garage or shed also in a locked cabinet? safety first, right? Do you leave the keys to your vehicles where an irresponsible child might find them? Baseball bat? garden shears?

      • This. The first sentence is too broad.

        On a different note, training without inclusion of #1 is not taking training seriously.

      • There’s a reason you carry a gun instead of a knife. If a kid finds a knife there is a much lower chance of him killing himself or someone else by mistake than if he found a loaded firearm. I don’t think all guns should be locked in a safe but let’s not be stupid here.

    • In 20+ years

      “Dad, you will be missed…
      While we all appreciated your involvement in our lives, the good times we had getting ice cream and going to the movies, we’ll also never forget how clumsy you were, always leaving that Lorcin 25 around the house. We never quite understood why you kept all of your guns in the safe except that Lorcin…”

    • Way. Particularly if there are little boys in the house, ya gotta lock ’em up.
      The guns and/or the boys, depending on the situation.

  6. I’ve had a 12ga pump in my bedroom since I was 12. (yes, the same gun is STILL in my bedroom)

    Making it a crime for a teenager to possess a firearm is just mind-boggling to me.

  7. “Don’t let the police into your home without a search warrant” is excellent advice–it’s just not applicable in this instance.
    Two exceptions to the rules of Search and Seizure applicable to warrantless entry and search are ‘exigency’ and ‘plain view.’
    The first one, ‘exigency,’ removes the requirement for a search or arrest warrant if the immediacy of the danger to the public is such that waiting for a warrant could reasonably result in serious harm to others. ‘Intoxicated man outside waving rifle’, coupled with the knowledge of children in the home, makes for an excellent reason for immediate contact with said intoxicated man and a warrantless entry to verify the well-being of the children and any other residents.
    The second, ‘plain view,’ means that if a police officer is in a position (such as at the front door or a convenient window), where he has the legal right to be, to see the obvious instrumentalities or fruits of a crime, then no warrant is necessary: Whatever the officer can view that appears to be evidence is his to seize, and he can enter to do so. If he enters for a necessary welfare check on other known residents, under the ‘exigency’ exception, he is also entitled to ‘search’ with his eyes wherever he goes, and anything of evidentiary value within his view is subject to legal seizure.
    So, the REAL lesson, here, is not to give the police a really good, fully-legal reason to make a warrantless entry into your home.

    • “Don’t let police into your home without a search warrant — no matter what the reason for their visit”

      As John pointed out, there are circumstances when the police don’t need a warrant or your permission to enter your home. For that reason, I’d change the quoted sentence to “don’t give the police permission to enter your home.”

      Using force to stop a cop from doing something is almost always a very, very bad idea.

      There are times to fully and voluntarily co-operate with law enforcement, so I won’t say never or no matter. I do think interacting with law enforcement should be avoided as much as reasonably possible. Where someone draws the line as to what is reasonable is their business.

    • I think the REAL lesson here is don’t be a douchebag.

      If I were a judge, I would deprive this man of his right to own weapons in a heartbeat.

  8. to me, the idea of hiding guns throughout the house is one of the stupidest things someone could ever do with a gun. because once you do these things ANYONE can access them. that is utter stupidity operating under the self reassuring guise of safety and control.

  9. Yea, but if they were in condition 3, was it really child endangerment?

    Of course, waving your weapons around while intoxicated in the presence of your kids probably is anyway.

    • Most police will call child endangerment whenever a gun is visible, even one with a cable lock. The photos of a Condition 3 weapon showing magazine inserted will be proof enough in most courts – no one will ask if the weapon was actually made ready.
      If you have kids under 21 in the house, get a safe and put your guns in the safe to be safe.

      • Yea, I was kind of being facetious. These days you don’t dare let your neighbors see your kid ride his tricycle around the yard without a helmet for fear of getting slapped with a child endangerment charge. However, in condition 3, those charges would be bogus. (Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t stick though.)

        • “These days you don’t dare let your neighbors see your kid ride his tricycle around the yard without a helmet for fear of getting slapped with a child endangerment charge.”

          Jesus, really?

      • GWsurf, you are 100% wrong. there is a mountain of case law showing if a calve lock is on that it is not accessible.
        In DC you can keep a cable locked glock on the kitchen table around kids adn it is perfectly legal. for that matter you can get on the metro with a cable lock on your hadngun in a zip up unlocked backpack and no carry licence if you ar eon your way to carry in Virginia
        So stick to what you know, you obviously don’t know firearms law.

        And in fact in LOTS of states you can keep a loaded shogun wiht no lock at the door with kids in the house

  10. Weigh the probabilities, folks. What are the odds of someone suddenly bursting through your door with evil intent versus those of having a small child (or even a bigger one) discovering that loaded gun you have “hidden” so well that a child couldn’t find it but you can access it instantly? I have a three year-old grandson and I am in awe his ability to get hold of things I think he can’t reach – and how quickly he forgets being told, “Don’t touch that!”

    However, the above paradigm is reversed if you sell/use drugs, as your chances of being the victim of a home invasion rises exponentially and you most likely don’t give a damn about your kids, anyway.

  11. An idiot doing idiot things.

    Incidentally, if you’re doing something as stupid as him, there’s a good chance denying the police entry isn’t going to help. First, they may have seen firearms in plain view anyway. Second, as someone pointed out above, a court would probably find that this would meet exigency.

    None of which would have happened if not for his dumb behavior. But then again if you think it’s safe to leave guns around your young kids like this you probably should be arrested.

  12. Is it “child endangerment” to leave the keys in a vehicle that a child could potentially have access to? Because that’s the best parallel I can think of here.

    Growing up on the farm, we never took the keys out of anything. Cars, trucks, tractors, combines, and lawn mowers were all easily within my grasp.

    • And I remember growing up in the 50s, out in the country, where no one had a key to their doors at all. Break-ins were unheard of.
      Today, we live in a far different world. Even out in the country, break-ins are far more common, and the criminals are much more likely to be vicious.
      But to answer your question, yes, it probably is considered child endangerment to leave the keys in a vehicle that a child could potentially have access to. I see, usually about monthly, cases of children getting caught driving. You’ve probably seen them, too.

  13. I have no sympathy for this guy. I the “waving his drunk” line did it. Yeah-dont be that guy…

  14. This has more to do with situational awareness.
    Know thy neighbors. In my neck of the woods, when I get intoxicated and wave a gun in the air (whatever the fuck that is) my neighbor would wave back.

  15. I think the takeaway from this is; don’t walk around your front yard drunk and waving a rifle. While it is left to each individual to decide how to properly store their property, at the risk of their toddlers finding them, or not, this is more negligent gun owner of the day than police casually searching a house without a warrant. Although it is both.

  16. In this day and age, unless you live far out in the country, also don’t discuss or show your gun ownership with your neighbors unless you have known them for a long time, and know that they are also responsible gun owners. Too many urban and suburbanites are hoplophobic, busy-bodies and paranoid, and would call the police in a self-induced panic over nothing, like seeing you cleaning a weapon with an open garage door and thinking you were “brandishing” it as they walked by. And as the Governor said in a previous post, there are neighbors who would turn a parent in for letting a kid ride a tricycle without a helmet. I occasionally see articles like this in the local newspaper.

  17. That Rule #1 is about as bogus as “never talk to the cops.”

    For instance, if YOU called them to investigate a crime at your house, well do you expect them to show up with a search warrant?

    Think, people. Think.

  18. My wife grew up in a house with at least rifle or shotgun leaning in every corner of every room, and at least one pistol in every drawer (that includes the bathroom). The gun cabinet was really only used for ammo storage. My wife and her brothers new not to touch any of them without their dad’s permission or presence. The inability to sit comfortably for quite some time would result if they did touch them.

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