Skip to comments.Lawsuit takes gun owner duty too far(CT,NH)
Posted on 06/20/2012 7:13:59 AM PDT by marktwain
With the decision to own a gun comes the responsibility to control access to it, but there are limits to that responsibility. A case now before a federal appeals court in Boston will test those limits in ways that are important to the one-third to one-half of all New Hampshire households that own firearms.
Michael Woodbury, a 31-year-old felon, went on a crime spree almost as soon as he was released from a Maine prison. That spree ended at a military surplus store in Conway where on July 2, 2007, Woodbury killed the store's manager and two young tourists who tried to stop the holdup.
Woodbury obtained the gun used in the robbery by breaking into his grandfather's camp in Wentworth Location and removing it from its hiding place beneath a water heater. The mother of one of the Massachusetts victims alleged that cabin owner Lawrence Secord's negligence led to the wrongful death of her son. A lower court judge disagreed - and got it right.
The grandfather had no way to foresee that a grandson he'd had no relationship with for 14 years would break into his camp, steal the gun and use it to commit murder. He thus had no responsibility to do more than he had: hide the gun and lock the camp.
The woman appealed and now, in the first case of its kind in New Hampshire, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, has been asked to find Maine resident Secord liable for the harm inflicted with his stolen 22. caliber handgun. It was one of what one study estimates as the 250,000 guns stolen in the United States each year.
New Hampshire law makes it a violation to negligently store a firearm in a manner that allows a child access to it without permission, but that law neither applies to adults nor is cited in the Woodbury shooting case. The question the court has been asked to decide is not whether Secord stored the gun safely but whether he had a duty to do so. We find it difficult to separate those two questions. And even recognizing that firearms present a hazard that justifies regulation, it's not easy to draw distinct lines. For example, would a homeowner be liable if a knife or an ax stolen in a burglary were used in a murder, or the owner of a stolen vehicle responsible if it were used to ram a police cruiser? We believe not.
Leaving a handgun, loaded or not, on the dashboard of a car, locked or unlocked, would be negligent. Yet in hunting season plenty of guns can be seen in racks in the rear window of pickups, which are presumably locked when unoccupied. Storing a firearm in a gun rack opposite a picture window would be unwise, but would it be negligent if the home were locked? Not typically. But what if that window faced a half-way house for felons or a home for troubled teens?
Gun owners associations, law enforcement, educators, physicians, firearms makers: all should strongly encourage safe firearm storage practices. Ideally, all guns should be kept in a locked safe in locked home with ammunition kept separately under lock and key when not in use. But in numerous surveys a big percentage of households admit to storing firearms unsafely. One 2007 study put the figure at 70 percent. Should those households be liable for the unforeseeable harm done with their weapon if it's stolen? We don't believe so.
The Concord Monitor is better than a lot
of papers but it tends to bow to liberalism in the typcial ways.
A lock only keeps an honest man honest...nothing more.
These liberals are doing everything to remove control of guns from the citizens and to the government.
Once disarmed, we will be like the Jews in WWII.
The law refers to children being kept away from firearms. Since when is a 31 year old man a child?
“Since when is a 31 year old man a child?”
Since a man child got to play president beginning in 2008.
As a general rule, I disapprove of holding anyone responsible for the acts of another person.
Guess they’ll have to sue me.
This absurd statement represents "common sense"???
So the only "ideal" weapon is one that cannot be used for home protection?
When you worship the false god of government, you don't want any restrains on the power of your false god.
Once disarmed, we will be like the Jews in WWII.
Yep, and the government's JBTs will become more openly like the SS when it comes to constitutional rights when they no longer have even the very slight risk of getting some second amendment restraint.
Ideally, all guns should be kept
in a locked safe in locked home with ammunition kept separately under lock and key when not in use loaded and readily available with one or more in every room. There fixed it.
Thank goodness CCW. Castle doctrine and stand your ground are in place in most of our USA. Good people with guns are not the problem with violence and murder in our land. Honest citizens are not the crime problem, it’s the dishonest, bent and depraved misfits we sometimes breed or import.
Sure I store firearms I’m not using and don’t want stolen or burned up in a big safe (along with needed tax and personal papers). But, the weapons I need for home defense and defense while out and about are accessible and loaded. Seconds count when you are in trouble.