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Thread: Handling Firearm "Ownership" with Minors?

  1. #1
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    Handling Firearm "Ownership" with Minors?

    This might seem a strange question, but I have not had to deal with this issue as of yet despite my old age. I have 3 kids. The oldest 2 are out of the house and on their own (whatever that means ).

    My youngest daughter is 13 and a pretty focused individual, despite her age. Straight A's in school, just got a 4.0 GPA award last week. She has done a little shooting, mostly air rifles and a .22 bolt action for a couple of hours.

    She recently declared she would like a rifle for Christmas. I am all for the idea, as is my wife. I mentioned it to my brother-in-law yesterday, as we were at his place for Thanksgiving dinner. He (my wife's brother) is heir to their dad's guns, of which there are many. My daughter was very close to her grandpa. He lived just across the road from us for many years, and after they moved to "the lake" about 5 years ago, she spent many weekends there fishing, learning to clean and cook the catch, etc.

    He passed away a couple of years ago and she took it pretty hard.

    At any rate, my BIL offered grandpa's old .410 bolt action Stevens shotgun as a Christmas gift for her. Aside from the fact it is not a .22 rifle, I think it will be a very nice gift.

    Obviously, at 13, she cannot "own" a firearm. The laws here in CA are pretty obvious about "common sense" regarding minors and firearms, but can get pretty harsh in the event something bad should happen.

    I am not really worried about the "what if" aspects, but am curious as to how you all deal with this situation.
    Do you keep all firearms locked up except during supervised times?
    Hang the shotguns on the wall and lock up the ammo?

    My daughter is quite responsible, but I know that "kids will be kids", and she does have friends I do not hold in the highest regard.

    Any comments welcome...

    -D

  2. #2
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    Dutch, I can't say what you should do, but I can tell you what happened to me. When I was 6, the year after my parents divorced, my dad gave me his father's .22 Springfield single-shot rifle. I had shot my dad's and uncle's guns before (under close supervision) but never had one of my own. The Springfield was to be my gun, if I proved worthy of it.

    He had checked with my mother first, and she said she didn't want a loaded gun in the house. So when I stayed with her, I was expected to store it unloaded in my closet. I could take it out at will to clean it, work on it, dry-fire on a target in my bedroom, just not load it in the house. From time to time when a bird or small animal would show up injured, she would ask me to take it out in the back yard and kill it quickly, because she hated to see it suffer.

    I had my own ammo which I kept in my dresser drawer (back in those days, the old boy who ran the hardware store would sell me 5 rounds for 10 cents, but a box of 50 was only 60 cents, so I tried to save up for a whole box).

    When I stayed at my dad's house, he had guns all over the place. Most of the hunting guns were in a wooden cabinet, which we locked up when we were leaving for very long (and I knew where the key was hidden). Down in the sofa cushions there was a 1911, always loaded. In the cabinet beside the dining table there was a .38 revolver, also loaded. He taught me to shoot them, but stressed they should only be used in an absolute emergency. I could put my rifle in the cabinet for safekeeping if I wished, but usually I kept it unloaded in my closet. My dad didn't forbid me to load in the house, but he drilled me on safety. He never allowed me any toy guns, saying that "guns are not toys and vice versa, and you're not gonna act like they are."

    I soon got a soft case for my rifle, and a small collection of cleaning gear. When I went to stay at my grandpa's farm in the summer, I packed the rifle in my backpack and slept with it in the bunkhouse and carried it around all day. When Pa and I would go to town, I'd hang my rifle in the truck's gun rack below his old Winchester M12, and take it back out when we got home. This all was in the middle 60s, and I don't know if it was legal or not, just that it was common sense. I suppose that if some official inquiry were conducted, my dad would have lied that he owned the gun to keep me from getting in trouble, but in fact it was mine. We all knew it was mine.

    All of them are gone now and I'm still here, and I thank them for trusting me with that rifle. I think I earned their trust - not once did I ever do any property damage or vandalism with it. I knew they'd find out and take it away if I did. Once or twice my friends got their guns taken away for misconduct, and during that time they couldn't shoot my gun either. We all were pretty careful, because we liked having them a lot more than having them taken away.

    The other thing was, I learned that our family guns were our own family business. I didn't discuss how many guns we had and where they were with my friends, nor did I ask about their family's guns. Once in a while an older fellow would take out a gun and show it to me, and I felt honored that he trusted me to know about it. I grew up figuring each family had guns and kept the details to themselves. Musta been late high school when I found out some families had no guns at all.

    Parker

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    Have your B-I-L make out a bill of sale (or transfer, however you want to word it) to her with control and possession to lie with YOU until she turns 18 listed right on it.

    It is hers but you have full control of it till she is legal to own and keep it herself.

    This is what careful questioning got for me when I wanted to give firearms to a friends underage children, after he agreed.

    Those questioned were a couple of lawyers I had a little access to.

    Don't see why that would not work, even in California.

    Buckshot

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies,

    catspa,
    I keep trying to draw parallels to the days of my own youth, but in terms of legislation and litigation, it is a different world today. I do appreciate your recollections and I think I have a plan.

    No3buckshot,
    We will be doing a private transfer if necessary (it may not, being within family) and being over 50 years old, it is a C&R long gun anyway. If any documentation is required, my name will be on it.

    I will explain the legalities to my daughter. I'm sure she will understand.

    -D

  5. #5
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    The other thing was, I learned that our family guns were our own family business. I didn't discuss how many guns we had and where they were with my friends, nor did I ask about their family's guns.
    I think this is a key point...Thank You!

    -D

  6. #6
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    She recently declared she would like a rifle for Christmas.
    Not really what you asked but...if she wants a rifle, should you get her a shotgun?

    A bolt-action .410 is kind of a niche piece--not the most versatile firearm. While it is an invaluable momento, is something that will get her out shooting on the weekends?

    My advice might be to get that .22 for her. If you have a tradition in your family of remembering dead family on certain days (their birthday or the anniversery of their death), that might be the best time to present her with a remembrance of her beloved grandpa.

  7. #7
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    Not really what you asked but...if she wants a rifle, should you get her a shotgun?

    A bolt-action .410 is kind of a niche piece--not the most versatile firearm. While it is an invaluable momento, is something that will get her out shooting on the weekends?
    I realize the shotgun is not what she has asked for. I have also heard a .410 can be frustrating for young shooters. She will have opportunity to make use of it, and we will have to see how it goes.

    We do plan to buy her a decent rifle when finances permit. I looked at some low-priced "youth" models last week and they are too small. I would rather she has a quality rifle she can grow into rather than one she will grow out of.

    This will give me some time to look around, as well as plan for the expense.

  8. #8
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    My house, my rules, my safe. My wife's gun is in there, so are rifles belonging to my adult children because they still live at home. They may have them when a purpose presents itself.

    There is room for several guest guns should others visit. The only exception is CCW--if you got a permit you can keep the handgun on or near your person--watch the muzzle! I have several Center of Mass steel boxes if you wish to 'secure' a CC handgun near your bed.

    Guns in the safe are unloaded; ammo goes on a shelf in a locking cabinet nearby.
    This has been my SOP from the time I owned my first gun.
    Last edited by jfdavis58; November 27th, 2010 at 01:01 PM. Reason: spelling

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    I think I'll start another thread on this, but jfdavis brings up an interesting point about house rules.

    Parker

  10. #10
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    An awful lot depends on the kid.

    I became a gun owner and shooter at 11 in 1962. To my knowledge, the legal niceties were not considered.

    I suppose that the honorary nephew's guns are nominally owned by his Dad for legal purposes, but he has his own safe and keeps the keys, has since his preteens. His standards of custody, care, and handling exceed those of adults I know.

    As to a new rifle for a kid, the (left handed) Savage MkII I bought the HN has been great and the price was right.
    Gee, I'd love to see your data!

  11. #11
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    At first read I considered only the immediate possession issue INDOORS! I live in a city so out-of-doors generally means off the (my) property and that's not my problem.

    As to the issue of age vs ownership, responsible people follow the law. Internet wisdom be damned.

    Where I live it's 18 to buy a long gun, 21 to buy a handgun. There don't appear to be any laws that directly address ownership age-just acquisition and transportation (the same 18/21 rules for in a car...).

    Technically, I 'owned' a shotgun at about 4 years of age--(in another state than present). The gun was willed to me by my paternal grandfather. For years it stayed with my aunt and godmother in that other state. I actually took possession and put it in my dad's safe just after my 18th birthday. Same house rules that I use today. There it remained except for occasional hunts and range trips until I acquired my own home and safe.

    All my children had a choice of high school graduation presents and that list included either a 22 caliber rifle or a shotgun. In reality they got the money and bought the gun themselves with either my wife or I present to vouch for them as responsible (but young) adults. It really didn't matter, they had ID.

    My will splits my collection between my three children (assuming they remain law-abiding) according to a selection list they know about and had some input to. My daughter opted for the smaller calibers; my younger son wants all the shoulder bruisers. This split was in effect long before any of them reached adulthood. Aunts and uncles listed as guardians in my absence would also handle the gun issue and were aware of the stipulation in the will.

    We currently live in a state where no special transfer conditions exist but they will get a notarized copy of the will which includes full documentation for many valuables-including the guns.

    While I have some thoughts on minors and guns, these thoughts pertain to minors I know or have responsibility for. For the most part, all these children had the requisite maturity to handle and carry a gun (and use it) during routine loading and unloading of vehicles at the range or during a hunt so that I had no serious worries. Each child is a little different from the others but with proper training, sometime around 8 to 12 years of age children possess the necessary mental capacity to master safe gun handling skills. Look to their parents to see if they might have that training.

    Ownership of firearms by children is something for their parents to manage--not the state despite what the government might say. I tend to favor those with that mindset. Guns are not toys although there are toy guns. With some old fashioned common sense they can be managed in-house and in-family without any need to involve strangers. Again, I tend to favor those with similar mindset.

  12. #12
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    I don't think the issue is the child and her responsibility, or lack of
    But rather that in Cali you have stupid laws, and that is that,
    do you best to follow them, if its in your name and she understands it 'hers' that should be enough.

  13. #13
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    Nothing wrong with a "2 gun Christmas" Loosedhorse. One from Grandpa by way of Uncle and one from Mom and Dad?

    You ALL seemed to have missed what the solution I gave does. It transfers the INTENT of ownership to the minor, but the actual control and possession of the firearm to the named adult until the minor reaches adult status.

    No, you can't do that on a Form 4473 but as long as the uncle is passing along a wish of the grandfather it should be a legal bequest, and legal on the receiving end with no straw man deal if you set it up the way I said.

    Dutch3,

    Take a look at the Marlin 795, they have a rebate on it from the factory and it has only been selling for right around $100.00 in many places for the Christmas season to start with. You can look at the Mossberg 702 Plinkster too, but the Marlin is a better rifle for about the same deal now. Every bit as good a rifle as the 10-22, or maybe better, and less than half the price.

    Price on the 795 is right in there with the price on the "midget guns" you found.

    Buckshot

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    except that this is california where it is state mandated that
    all firearms be inaccessible to children (don't know if they define this, remember brady inst. think kids are 21yo gang bangers...)

    and I believe that they require all gun transfers to go through a FFL, but that might just be handguns and 'assault' rifles.

  15. #15
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    except that this is california where it is state mandated that
    all firearms be inaccessible to children...

    and I believe that they require all gun transfers to go through a FFL, but that might just be handguns and 'assault' rifles.
    I am still researching, but it does not appear that the laws require inaccessibility per se. They do facilitate extreme liability should accessibility to firearms/ammo lead to injury or death, however.

    That, and the requirement that any firearm purchased through a FFL dealer has either an approved firearm safety device (trigger lock, gun safe, etc.) purchased with it or a signed affidavit stating such a precaution has already been purchased.

    As far a family transfers, there is no FFL requirement for transfers from parent to child or grandparent to grandchild.

    Thank you all for the responses. I will be defining some house rules in regard to accessibility, responsibility and supervision.

    -D

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    The gun might be "hers" but it's yours. The way that my dad did it, and the way that I will do it for my girls is explain to them, yes this is your gun. I'm keeping it in my safe for safe keeping. When you want it for cleaning or just to admire for a bit inside the house, I will get it for you. If you want to go shooting, WE will go together until you're old enough to go by yourself. This is your baby so you will be responsible for feeding it and keeping it clean, but I will keep the food with mine for safe keeping.
    Yes, I'm a grown man that loves My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Got a problem?

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    Ever time I advance an opinion in a matter such as this, some moderator comes along and tells me that I've committed a felony, so we'll begin with a parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by A parable
    There was once a father who had a son. As the son aged, the father educated him, brought him along on the path to manhood, and the son grew and learned and became an asset to the family. As the son grew, he wanted mobility, his own horse and chariot. Alas, in those lands, a minor child could not own a chariot, as the vile Romans had decreed laws that limited the mobility of children and the ownership of certain items was forbidden to them. Yet, the father understood that the son needed some manner of freedom, so the father proposed to have the chariot purchased and placed in the father's name. The father proposed rules to the son, when and where he could use the chariot and under what conditions the chariot must be parked in the manger.

    Thus, the Laws were preserved and the father brought his son along in greater maturity and the son enjoyed the freedom that comes with responsible ownership. As the son reached the age of manhood, the chariot was transferred unto him. Thus, the father was able to educate his son, the son grew to responsible manhood, and the Roman law was preserved.

    It is a wise father who educates his children in all the rites of adulthood while protecting them from running afoul of Roman decrees.

  18. #18
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    We do plan to buy her a decent rifle when finances permit. I looked at some low-priced "youth" models last week and they are too small. I would rather she has a quality rifle she can grow into rather than one she will grow out of.
    Tell her that. The gift will be greatly appreciated as will her perception of your confidence in her. She will understand if you communicate with her.

    --Wag--
    "Great genius will always encounter fierce opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein.

  19. #19
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    When I was 13 and a hunter, the bow that I made with my own hands was mine and mine alone. The rifle and shotgun were 'mine' in the same sense that I have 'my' room. Although Dad respected my privacy in 'my' room it was understood that the room was part of 'his' house. The rifle, the shotgun and the room were assigned to me but never ceased being Dad's property.

  20. #20
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    I would err on the side of safety, as far as the other kids your daughter

    hangs out with. Either use a trigger lock, or otherwise disable the gun if you're

    going to hang it on the wall. Lock up the ammo.

  21. #21
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    I grew up in Chicago, and had a BB-gun at 4, a .22 rifle at 7, a CO2 air pistol at 11 or 12, and received a .22 Colt revolver at 13 for 8th grade graduation. And I had de facto access to my father's guns pretty early. Had safety, "time and place" discussions, and - above all! - DISCRETION drilled into me at an early age. (Rule #1 of owning guns in Chicago: Don't talk about owning guns in Chicago. Rule#2 of owning guns in Chicago: Don't talk about owning guns in Chicago. Rule #3 . . . ) I've been away from Chicago for several decades now . . .

    The only real restriction was that I was NOT to mess with any of these if another kid was there; in retrospect, my folks were wise to trust me, and wiser to DIStrust my "friends."

    Never was tempted to do anything nefarious with any of these . . . but then, I wasn't on Prozac, Luvox, or any other meds.
    Pay attention - the inmates really are running the asylum.

  22. #22
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    in my opinion, parents play an important role in giving directions about weapons, about the benefits of gun laws and the constitution itself.

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