Storage of firearms in the home - WA


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ohbythebay
July 7, 2014, 05:57 PM
Are you required to have proof of safe storage of firearms in the home in WA State ? The reason I ask is a co-worker was telling me that if your guns are stolen and a crime committed with them, you could be liable if you cannot show they were adequately locked/stored, etc. - even if you had immediately reported them stolen

I don't believe that to be true but would like to hear from someone who KNOWS ...Thanks

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RustyShackelford
July 7, 2014, 07:00 PM
I'd check these sources; www.nra.org www.handgunlaw.us www.gunlawguide.com www.floridafirearmslaw.com .
You might ask your local LE agency or DA's office. Some sheriff's offices(like mine) offer free gun locks/cases to gun owners to prevent mishaps-NDs.
Many gun firms will mail you a free security lock or device too.
I requested a lock & cleaning rod for my Glock 21 law enforcement trade-in. I got the items last week. ;)

I added the Florida gun book guide because the author(who is a lawyer/2A expert) might have connections or sources in WA.
The only WA area(Seattle) legal expert I'm aware of is David Wong. He has a site too but I'm not aware of how to contact him. Try Facebook or maybe Linkedin.com .
Wong wrote a few articles on the LEOSA issue & gun/knife laws.

2bfree
July 7, 2014, 07:08 PM
No, does not mean they might try something anyway :( They did try to get a bill passed last year that included having to let a police officer in your home once a year to make sure. Did not go anywhere. Also does not mean you can leave a loaded weapon out for a kid to get and do harm. They have tried some for this.

Frank Ettin
July 7, 2014, 08:22 PM
Even in the absence of a specific law, and depending on the exact circumstances, I could conceive of liability being based on basic, Common Law, negligence. In appropriate circumstances, I could imagine a civil jury concluding that a gun owner didn't exercise the care of a reasonable and prudent person to prevent unauthorized access to his gun.

Of course without a statute it's hard to be definitive. As I said, it really all depends. So, for example --

If your gun is stolen out of your locked safe by someone who used significant force to break into your safe, you'll probably be okay.


If you left your gun on top of the coffee table, and it was lifted by a delivery person, you might have a problem.


If you left your gun on your work bench, unattended, in your garage open to and readily accessible from a busy sidewalk, and it was stolen from there, you're probably toast.

BSA1
July 7, 2014, 08:33 PM
How many locks does a gun have to have for the owner to avoid legal trouble?

Fenced yard and gates locked?
Garage locked and power to door opener shut off?
Entry doors to home locked?
Windows locked?
Interior doors locked?
Gun safe locked?
Gun safe bolted in place?
Gun inside safe disassembled and locked?

Frank Ettin
July 7, 2014, 08:46 PM
How many locks does a gun have to have for the owner to avoid legal trouble?Enough that a jury is likely to be convinced that he exercised reasonable care. Not exercising the degree of care which would be exercised by a reasonable and prudent person in light of the foreseeable risk of harm is the foundation of liability based on negligence; and it's impossible to be any more definite.

suemarkp
July 8, 2014, 12:58 AM
There was a State Initiative a few years back (I-695) that dealt with "safe storage". It was soundly defeated. So you have no legal requirement to lock up your guns. But as others pointed out, that doesn't always absolve you of all liability.

WA has state preemption over guns laws except for when/where you can discharge them. So if they make a safe storage law, it will be state wide and everyone should know.

joeschmoe
July 8, 2014, 03:38 AM
In a word... no. Your coworker is wrong. There is no requirement to "show proof of safe storage" in WA. Ask him where that law is written down.

AlexanderA
July 8, 2014, 11:48 AM
These "safe storage" requirements worry me -- a lot. This is going to be a big item to be pushed by the gun controllers. There's no way that "safe storage" requirements can be enforced without random, warrantless inspections by the police. Random inspections are a gross violation of privacy. Beyond that, there's nothing to stop the police from noting and cataloging your guns during the course of the inspections. This is one more way to get "backdoor" registration.

Let's say you have a dozen long guns stored in a safe, and a handgun or two in an unlocked nightstand. Will the police be satisfied when they see the long guns in the safe, and not inquire about any other guns in the house? There's no way that the "safe storage" scheme can be effective without some sort of registration. Either that, or there would have to be exhaustive, warrantless searches of the entire house. Would you be comfortable having your entire house torn apart on a whim?

Frank Ettin
July 8, 2014, 12:07 PM
...There's no way that "safe storage" requirements can be enforced without random, warrantless inspections by the police....Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.

So in the States which impose liability if a minor gets your loaded gun and hurts someone, there are "safe harbors" protecting you from liability if you met certain safe storage requirements. If you don't store your guns in accordance with those requirements, and a kid gets one and shoots someone, you'll go to jail and be civilly liable. If you did store your guns properly, you'll pretty much be off the hook.

ohbythebay
July 8, 2014, 12:07 PM
I thought it was "no"...and understand about common sense. I have no children in the house, the guns are not laying about but also not under lock and key. The house is. So regardless of them being in a closet or in a gun safe, anyone stealing them would be liable, not me...that's my take. A home defense gun (or guns) doesn't do me any good if its under lock and key.

I may add some locks to some of them, especially the rifles.

Thanks for the heads up !

AlexanderA
July 8, 2014, 12:46 PM
Frank Ettin wrote:

Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.

It would depend on how the "safe storage" law would be written. I agree that the most moderate approach would be to give immunity from civil/criminal liability if "safe storage" guidelines were followed. Yet the gun controllers have a history of pushing the envelope as far as they can. "Safe storage" and "universal background checks" are buzzwords that play well in the public-relations arena. Just as with "denying guns to wife beaters," the gun controllers can be expected to make the most of these things.

We saw how the Coburn proposal on UBC's, which would have relied on voluntary incentives (such as immunity from liability if a background check was made), made no headway. The antigunners are simply not interested in anything that does not further their agenda.

Frank Ettin
July 8, 2014, 12:52 PM
Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.

It would depend on how the "safe storage" law would be written. I agree that the most moderate approach would be to give immunity from civil/criminal liability if "safe storage" guidelines were followed. Yet the gun controllers have a history of pushing the envelope as far as they can.... Nonetheless, safe storage laws are not uncommon and they currently are along the lines I've described.

BSA1
July 8, 2014, 01:18 PM
I wonder how this would affect being able to get homeowners/renters insurance and how much the rates would be?

Unaffordable insurance would be a great back door victory for the anti's.

Frank Ettin
July 8, 2014, 01:40 PM
I wonder how this would affect being able to get homeowners/renters insurance and how much the rates would be?...Remember that insurance rates are set largely by (1) evaluation of risk; and (2) competitive market forces. Government will sometime effectively regulate maximum rates or rate increases, but not minimum rates except in the context of oversight of carrier solvency.

There's even the possibility that gun safe storage laws, or safe storage practices, could help lower rates slightly. For example, some carriers will discount "scheduled valuables" rates if you have a safe.

CoalTrain49
July 8, 2014, 09:35 PM
I'm not aware of any law that would require a gun be stored in a safe, lock box or other secure condition.

I'm am aware however of a case where a Marysville police officer left his loaded revolver in a car with his 4 kids and one of them was killed when they started playing with it. He was prosecuted for 2nd degree manslaughter but not convicted. If someone can't be convicted in a case such as this I would say there is no law in WA that requires one to secure their weapon. If there was he would have been convicted. He was also fired but later reinstated because of a union contract.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Marysville-police-officer-charged-with-manslaughter-in-daughters-death-152640455.html

Frank Ettin
July 8, 2014, 10:02 PM
...If someone can't be convicted in a case such as this I would say there is no law in WA that requires one to secure their weapon. If there was he would have been convicted. ....

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Marysville-police-officer-charged-with-manslaughter-in-daughters-death-152640455.htmlWell he wasn't acquitted either. As discussed here (http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/11/marysville-officer-wont-face-second-trial-in-daughters-death/), a mistrial was declared because of a hung jury, and the prosecutor decided not to try him again.

In a case like that jurors will often be reluctant to convict, feeling that the defendant will be punished enough by having to live with the knowledge that he is responsible for the death of his child.

But if a stranger had taken the unattended gun and killed someone while robbing a convenience store, I think we'd see a different result.

BSA1
July 9, 2014, 05:12 PM
Thanks Frank,

I didn't consider how safe storage actually reduces the odds of loss.

Leanwolf
July 9, 2014, 06:59 PM
ALEXANDER A - " ... The antigunners are simply not interested in anything that does not further their agenda."

You're 100% correct and they never, ever, disengage.

Thwart them here, thwart them there, and they just regroup and come at us from a different direction ... forever.

The battle is unending.

L.W.

RustyShackelford
July 9, 2014, 07:58 PM
I wouldn't expect you to keep a defense gun under a security lock 24/07. :rolleyes:
If you leave or have children/untrained adults near the weapons then a security system is a good idea.
A local metro cop in my city had a 3 year old boy crawl into his closet, grab a loaded .380acp pistol, firing a round. The child was not hurt but the cop faced admin actions. :uhoh:

Rusty

Frank Ettin
July 9, 2014, 11:53 PM
I wouldn't expect you to keep a defense gun under a security lock 24/07...Keeping your sidearm on your person under your control is one approach. Another is the use of one of the many available lock boxes using a touch-key combination and allowing almost instant access.

samort457
July 10, 2014, 01:14 AM
I could imagine a civil jury concluding that a gun owner didn't exercise the care of a reasonable and prudent person to prevent unauthorized access to his gun.
I get storage for safety and to prevent stuff being stolen if someone breaks in. But even if you have guns all over your house and even say your lawn, while it is a stupid idea, its perfectly legal and if some takes them its perfectly illegal. I am preventing unauthorized access to them by having them on my property. If there are no charges for someone taking a gun that is IN YOUR HOUSE, wether it be safely stored or not, then by that logic somebody should be able to take your car if its parked in your driveway. You could have always parked it in your garage.

Jackal
July 10, 2014, 02:07 AM
I have many guns locked in my safe, but I do have an AR and handgun loaded by/on my nightstand. I have no children, relatives, friends or anyone that enter my bedroom though. If someone breaks into my home, steals and commits a crime with my loaded handgun, they would have done the same after they popped my cheap safe open and gained access to guns/ammo/mags anyway. Depending on the safe, in the event of a break in some offer very little security (mine just makes it really convenient for 2 guys to pack all the guns out, it only weighs about 50lbs by itself).

gamestalker
July 10, 2014, 02:08 AM
I guess I'll never live in Wa., or any other state that has such ridiculous laws. For now I'll enjoy the freedom to store them where, and how I want, which is loaded, at my easy access, here and there throughout my home in the great state of Az.. Don't get me wrong, common sense is always good, but when LE needs to inspect my home, or make laws about gun locks, or how they are stored, they are infringing on my rights. simply put, it's no one's business but my own:D

GS

Frank Ettin
July 10, 2014, 02:10 AM
...I am preventing unauthorized access to them by having them on my property....You might believe that, but a jury would not agree if you were ever unfortunate enough to have to make your case in court.

joeschmoe
July 10, 2014, 02:37 AM
I guess I'll never live in Wa., or any other state that has such ridiculous laws. For now I'll enjoy the freedom to store them where, and how I want, which is loaded, at my easy access, here and there throughout my home in the great state of Az.. Don't get me wrong, common sense is always good, but when LE needs to inspect my home, or make laws about gun locks, or how they are stored, they are infringing on my rights. simply put, it's no one's business but my own:D

GS
There is no such law.


This thread is full of fail.

Frank Ettin
July 10, 2014, 02:38 AM
...Don't get me wrong, common sense is always good, but when LE needs to inspect my home, or make laws about gun locks, or how they are stored, they are infringing on my rights. simply put, it's no one's business but my own.Well it's not necessarily a matter of a cop inspecting your home. But if someone does get your gun and hurts someone with it, it's no longer only your business.

Consider this case from gun-friendly Montana, Estate of Strever v. Cline, 278 Mont. 165 (Mont., 1995), at 174 -- 175 (emphasis added):...A firearm, particularly one that is loaded or has ammunition in close proximity, is considered a dangerous instrumentality and therefore requires a higher degree of care in its use or handling. This concept is set out in the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which provides:

Care required. The care required is always reasonable care. This standard never varies, but the care which it is reasonable to require of the actor varies with the danger involved in his act, and is proportionate to it. The greater the danger, the greater the care which must be exercised.

As in all cases where the reasonable character of the actor's conduct is in question, its utility is to be weighed against the magnitude of the risk which it involves. [Citation omitted.] The amount of attention and caution required varies with the magnitude of the harm likely to be done if care is not exercised, and with the utility of the act. Therefore, if the act has little or no social value and is likely to cause any serious harm, it is reasonable to require close attention and caution. So too, if the act involves a risk of death or serious bodily harm, and particularly if it is capable of causing such results to a number of persons, the highest attention and caution are required even if the act has a very considerable utility. Thus those who deal with firearms ... are required to exercise the closest attention and the most careful precautions, not only in preparing for their use but in using them....

Restatement (Second) of Torts 298 cmt. b (1965).

Accordingly, given the foreseeability of the risk involved in the improper and unsafe use and storage of a firearm; given the strong policy considerations favoring safe and prudent use and storage; and on the basis of the law as set forth in 1-1-204, 27-1-701 and 28-1-201, MCA, our decisions in Limberhand, Maguire, Phillips, Mang and Busta and the above referred to standards of care set forth in Prosser and Keeton on Torts and in comment b to 298 of the Restatement, we hold that, as a matter of law, the owner of a firearm has a duty to the general public to use and to store the firearm in a safe and prudent manner taking into consideration the type of firearm, whether it is loaded or unloaded, whether the ammunition is in close proximity or easily attainable, and the location and circumstances of its use and storage.

Because we conclude that Susanj owed a legal duty to the general public to store his firearm and ammunition in a manner consistent with this standard of care,...

Old Dog
July 10, 2014, 03:08 AM
Sigh. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41
It really, really is not difficult to find the firearms laws in our state. And they just aren't that complicated, either.

One of local prosecutors had to struggle mightily to find a law under which to charge the adult family members of a young boy who took an unsecured handgun from their house to his elementary school, where he shot a 10-year old female schoolmate (fortunately, she lived, albeit with some permanent physical damage).

In this state, it really boils down to common sense. As it should.

Jackal
July 10, 2014, 06:19 PM
In this state, it really boils down to common sense. As it should.

Yup.

CoalTrain49
July 10, 2014, 09:41 PM
But if a stranger had taken the unattended gun and killed someone while robbing a convenience store, I think we'd see a different result.

I fail to see the difference. An unsecure gun is an unsecure gun and there was a clear lack of responsibility here. I think the prosecutor made the right call. Too many bleeding hearts for me. The prosecution would have selected me to be on that jury for sure.

ohbythebay
July 10, 2014, 09:50 PM
To be SURE I was not missing something. No, WA does not have any such law. I am not under any restriction to keep my guns locked; nor will I as I have several strategically placed for home defense. If someone did break in and steal one (unlikely as if they get past the dogs, there is always someone home), then I am not criminally liable for their acts.

Now, that does not mean someone wouldn't try a civil suit that I was negligent, allowed a criminal to get my guns and killed their auntie.. but that is just lawyers looking for a payday.

So I would have to request a jury of my peers (CC holders, gun owners...) :D

Get Pelosi and Hilary voters on there and I would be toast :what:

Frank Ettin
July 10, 2014, 10:05 PM
But if a stranger had taken the unattended gun and killed someone while robbing a convenience store, I think we'd see a different result.

I fail to see the difference. An unsecure gun is an unsecure gun and there was a clear lack of responsibility here. I think the prosecutor made the right call. Too many bleeding hearts for me. The prosecution would have selected me to be on that jury for sure.It's was a purely emotional thing. Some jurors would not convict the father because he already has a full cup of guilt to live with. And obviously, the father appeared sufficiently contrite and devastated.

...that is just lawyers looking for a payday....He might get it, and you'd be the one paying, directly or through your insurance premiums.

...So I would have to request a jury of my peers (CC holders, gun owners...)...You can't have one.

Nothing in the law of the United States entitles you to a jury of your peers, i. e., people belonging to the same societal group, especially based on age or status, as you. You are entitled to an impartial jury (Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States).

The notion of a "jury of one's peers" comes from Magna Carta and was indeed intended to refer to being judged by one's equals. Magna Carta was forced on King John by the feudal barons to protect their interests. Their first concern was that they be judged only by nobles of similar rank. (And indeed until relatively recently, a British noble charged with a crime was entitled to be tried in the House of Lords. The last trial in the House of Lords was in 1935, and the trial jurisdiction of the House of Lords was abolished in 1948.)


This is how jury selection works:


Each side gets a set number of peremptory challenges and can thereby excuse a limited number of prospective jurors without stating a cause.


A lawyer owes an absolute duty of loyalty to his client. He is required to exercise his professional judgment in the best interests of his client.


So he will use his peremptory challenges to exclude those people from the jury who he, in the exercise of his professional judgment, believes will be least receptive to his client, his client's position, the witnesses his client might be offering and/or his client's legal arguments.


At the same time he will need to use his peremptory challenges to exclude those people from the jury who he, in the exercise of his professional judgment, believes will be most receptive to his client's opponent's position, etc.


But he has only a limited number of peremptory challenges. And the other side will be doing exactly the same thing.


So the result is that if each side has, say, ten peremptory challenges, the lawyer on each side will excuse without cause the ten possible jurors he has decided will be least desirable from his particular perspective. If there are 50 jurors in the jury pool, the jury will then consist of persons from the remaining group of 30, unless one side or the other can convince the judge of actual bias.


The result of the process is probably going to be the most impartial jury available out of that jury pool of 50 people.


It's fashionable to denigrate the jury system and process wthout really understanding it.

ohbythebay
July 10, 2014, 10:22 PM
I knew that...I was making a joke...in point of fact, the dual process is sort of a joke that one can be found not guilty of a crime yet; be sued in a civil suit.

I look at it this way from a self-defense standpoint. I would rather be alive defending my actions than dead hoping for my widow to nail the bastard ...

Frank Ettin
July 10, 2014, 10:28 PM
...the dual process is sort of a joke that one can be found not guilty of a crime yet; be sued in a civil suit....It's not a joke. It's a function of the differences in the burden of proof.

An acquittal in a criminal trial is not an affirmative finding that you didn't do it. It's merely a finding that the prosecutor wasn't able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you did it. And the burden of proof in a civil matter is merely a preponderance of the evidence.

ohbythebay
July 10, 2014, 11:15 PM
An acquittal in a criminal trial is not an affirmative finding that you didn't do it. It's merely a finding that the prosecutor wasn't able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you did it. And the burden of proof in a civil matter is merely a preponderance of the evidence

Actually, it is because you were innocent UNTIL proven guilty. I am sure some cases are justified however; from a pure perspective, it feels like double jeopardy in some cases.

Case in point (extreme) - A homeowner shoots an intruder in self-defense and is tried. He is acquitted of all charges as the jury feels his actions where justified and within the self-defense laws.

The intruder now turns around and files a civil suit for being shot. Or the family sues for wrongful death.

That is an extreme case but my point is, if you are innocent, then you are innocent.

This is just my opinion. I know the reality of the real world, it happens all the time. It is the law. That doesn't mean its right.

Frank Ettin
July 10, 2014, 11:34 PM
Actually, it is because you were innocent UNTIL proven guilty....No, not really, not technically.

"Innocent until proven guilty" is merely a sort of non-technical, casual way of referring to the presumption of innocence.

The presumption of innocence is the technical, legal rule describing the prosecution's burden of proof in a trial on a criminal charge. In a trial on a criminal charge, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defendant in a trial on a criminal charge is presumed to be innocent, but that presumption is rebuttable if the prosecution, in the opinion of the jury, meets its burden of proof. If the prosecution fails to meet its burden of proof, the defendant is entitled to a verdict of "not guilty."

...He is acquitted of all charges as the jury feels his actions where justified and within the self-defense laws...So no, he is acquitted because the prosecution could not convince the jury that the defendant's actions were not, assuming that the defendant has made a prima facie case for justification.

...That is an extreme case but my point is, if you are innocent, then you are innocent...But the jury has not affirmatively found the defendant was, as a matter of fact, innocent.

...I know the reality of the real world, it happens all the time. It is the law. That doesn't mean its right.But we're talking about the law here, not what is cosmically right and wrong. Concepts of right and wrong are something of a chimera anyway.

It's like a conversation in Major Barbara between Andrew Undershaft (the maker of cannon) and his son:... STEPHEN [rising and looking at him steadily] I know the difference between right and wrong.

UNDERSHAFT [hugely tickled] You don't say so! What! no capacity for business, no knowledge of law, no sympathy with art, no pretension to philosophy; only a simple knowledge of the secret that has puzzled all the philosophers, baffled all the lawyers, muddled all the men of business, and ruined most of the artists: the secret of right and wrong. Why, man, you're a genius, master of masters, a god! At twenty-four, too!...

People everywhere are continually struggling to reach a common understanding of "justice", "morality", "love", "right and wrong." They are generally unsuccessful, except with regard to the most extreme circumstances. Sure, murder is off the table; but when does killing someone morph from murder to justified self defense. We can generally agree that it is wrong to steal the property of another; but many, perhaps most, would assert that it would be unjust to punish a man for stealing bread to feed his starving child.

But while people everywhere are struggling unsuccessfully to reach a common understanding of "justice", "morality", "love", "right and wrong", we still need a way to resolve disputes without tearing the fabric of society asunder. We might not all be able to reach agreement on "justice", "morality", "love", "right and wrong", except on occasion at certain crossing points, but in the real world we must still be able to get on with life.

Perhaps a true common understanding of "justice", "morality", "love", "right and wrong" will come to us in Heaven. But in the meantime we'll need to try to get along as best we can with the tools we have.

RustyShackelford
July 11, 2014, 01:15 AM
In response to #21, I agree. If you have problems or issues with firearm security/safety, you can "home carry"(carry a firearm on you) or secure it in a safe/lock box until you need it.
You Tube gun channel host & tactics trainer; James Yeager says he "home carrys" & doesn't remove his gun until he goes to bed. :uhoh:
I'm not against home carry, per se, but I used to consider it excessive.
Now, in 2014, after a few high profile events, I don't think it's as far fetched.
There are many well engineered safes & gun cases that offer quick access.

I'd add that in my state(which is fairly pro-gun/pro 2A), a young woman is now facing 2 felony charges for allowing her 3 year old child to get access to a .380acp pistol. :uhoh:
The girl shot a relative & then herself. The woman had the compact pistol on a stand by her bed.
The prosecutors in her area were not very lenient.

My point is that I wouldn't expect a DA or prosecutor to be sympathetic after a ND all the time. This too, wouldn't include any civil actions or lawsuits.

CoalTrain49
July 11, 2014, 10:25 AM
In this state, it really boils down to common sense. As it should.

That's my take on it also.

Best just to secure your weapon and avoid this whole issue.

If you must leave a pistol in your vehicle or laying around the house at least clear it and put the mag in your pocket.

I know people who have died because someone had to pull the trigger on an unloaded firearm.

No excuses.

Spats McGee
July 11, 2014, 11:37 AM
An acquittal in a criminal trial is not an affirmative finding that you didn't do it. It's merely a finding that the prosecutor wasn't able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you did it. And the burden of proof in a civil matter is merely a preponderance of the evidence

Actually, it is because you were innocent UNTIL proven guilty. I am sure some cases are justified however; from a pure perspective, it feels like double jeopardy in some cases.

Case in point (extreme) - A homeowner shoots an intruder in self-defense and is tried. He is acquitted of all charges as the jury feels his actions where justified and within the self-defense laws.

The intruder now turns around and files a civil suit for being shot. Or the family sues for wrongful death.

That is an extreme case but my point is, if you are innocent, then you are innocent.
On the issue of whether a "acquittal in a criminal trial is not an affirmative finding that you didn't do it," it also bears noting that in most states, the SD shooter must affirmatively state that he "did it." More specifically, the SD shooter must admit to having shot the victim in order to avail himself of SD as a defense to the shooting. In ordinary criminal defense, the defendant claims "State, you can't prove that I did it." In SD defense, the defendant claims "Sure, I did it. I did it, and I meant to do it. But I had a really, really good reason."

. . . .In a trial on a criminal charge, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. . . . .If the prosecution fails to meet its burden of proof, the defendant is entitled to a verdict of "not guilty."
For those who read this thread later, I'll add the following: As Frank noted above, in a civil trial, such as negligence or wrongful death, the Plaintiff's burden of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence," which is much lower than that to which the State is held in a criminal prosecution. Conceptually, there is this area which is: (a) higher than "preponderance of the evidence," but (b) lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt," such that even if the prosecutor fails to meet the latter, a civil plaintiff could meet the former (setting aside Castle Doctrine and other civil immunity statutes for the moment).

Also, it should be borne in mind that while the elements of a criminal act may be similar to the elements of the civil cause of action, they are not necessarily the same.

ohbythebay
July 11, 2014, 12:29 PM
You and Frank are correct, I have no issue with that.

What I have issue with is the abuses that have occurred because of this double standard.

Another good example

A man has no trespassing signs on his property.
Kids go riding through on dirt bikes
He has an open hole somewhere they fall into or has areas with barbed wire
He is not criminally negligent nor did he break any laws.
He gets sued civilly and the preponderance of evidence says he was negligent. He should have had signs. etc.

This is not hypothetical, this stuff has happened.

I completely understand how the law works however; sometimes I think the scales on blind lady justice should be replaced with a roulette wheel. :D

Frank Ettin
July 11, 2014, 01:04 PM
...What I have issue with is the abuses that have occurred because of this double standard.

Another good example

A man has no trespassing signs on his property.
Kids go riding through on dirt bikes
He has an open hole somewhere they fall into or has areas with barbed wire
He is not criminally negligent nor did he break any laws.
He gets sued civilly and the preponderance of evidence says he was negligent. He should have had signs. etc.

This is not hypothetical, this stuff has happened.

I completely understand how the law works however; sometimes I think the scales on blind lady justice should be replaced with a roulette wheel....

Abuse is often in the eye of the beholder.

These are often complex and difficult situations, and often in a particular case there could be widely differing ideas about what the "right" result should be. If a matter is in court, there's a dispute about how things should work out, and the court will need to decide using established principles, applicable precedent and applicable statutes. And that decision can be second guessed on appeal.

If application of established principles, applicable precedent and applicable statutes leads to a result which enough people find unacceptable (unjust, wrong, etc.) they could perhaps successfully use political process to cause the legislature to change the law. That sort of thing has also happened.

But in any case, the result in any case is unlikely to satisfy everyone. At least one person will always tend to find the system abusive -- the guy who lost.

Theohazard
July 11, 2014, 10:23 PM
I guess I'll never live in Wa., or any other state that has such ridiculous laws.
Did you read the posts in this thread where multiple people pointed out that WA has no such laws? The gun laws here in WA are some of the best in the nation. A few years ago I moved from TX to WA and I was pleasantly surprised to find that WA gun laws are even better than TX laws.

Old Dog
July 17, 2014, 03:41 PM
Here's a loss for Kitsap County's anti-gun prosecutor Russ Hauge, who really had to stretch to find an RCW under which to charge the defendents.
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Court-overturns-decision-in-Bremerton-school-shooting--267536351.html
This case is quite germane to the thread topic.

Deltaboy
July 17, 2014, 05:32 PM
I fail to see the difference. An unsecure gun is an unsecure gun and there was a clear lack of responsibility here. I think the prosecutor made the right call. Too many bleeding hearts for me. The prosecution would have selected me to be on that jury for sure.
If it is in my house and my house is locked up my guns are secure and the courts need to stay out of it. I see no need to spend extra money to keep thieves from get to what I already have locked inside my house.

I grew up with guns hanging on the wall on deer feet. That all the security I grew up with.
This kinds of laws drive me nuts and the Nanny State continues .

CoalTrain49
July 18, 2014, 12:34 AM
If it is in my house and my house is locked up my guns are secure and the courts need to stay out of it.

Can your house be broken into? What happens when someone steals a gun and they kill someone with it? Can you be charged? Probably not but do you want to find out? What's wrong with keeping your guns in a safe when you aren't using them?

Frank Ettin
July 18, 2014, 12:50 AM
Here's a loss for Kitsap County's anti-gun prosecutor Russ Hauge, who really had to stretch to find an RCW under which to charge the defendents.
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Court-overturns-decision-in-Bremerton-school-shooting--267536351.html
This case is quite germane to the thread topic.And that reflects the higher bar for criminal negligence. So while criminal liability has been resolved favorably to the gun owner, the question of possible civil liability appears to still be open.

If it is in my house and my house is locked up my guns are secure and the courts need to stay out of it....That's it. You tell 'em!

But understand that the courts won't necessarily be accommodating. If someone gets one of your guns and hurts someone else with it, you could be sued. And if you are sued the courts will not be staying "out of it" no matter what you want. You will need to deal with the matter in court.

And it a prosecutor decides to go after you, you'll need to deal with things in court as well.

You do not decide if the courts will get involved. Someone else will be making that decision.

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