Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns

Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns

This is a discussion on Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Preface: MA residents you will really want to read this whole press release and take this 'news' to heart. Non MA residents may want to ...

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Thread: Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns

    Preface:

    MA residents you will really want to read this whole press release and take this 'news' to heart.
    Non MA residents may want to take this to heart as well.

    Serious business...

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    JUNE 30, 2006
    11:55 AM


    CONTACT: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
    Communications: (202) 898-0792

    Massachusetts High Court Rules That Homeowners Must Lock Up Their Guns


    BOSTON - June 30 - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today in Jupin v. Kask that homeowners must ensure that firearms in their homes are secured from theft, or they may be held liable for shootings with stolen guns. This is the first time that a court in Massachusetts has ruled that a homeowner must may be liable for a shooting with a gun stolen from a home. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence submitted a friend of the court brief in this case, supporting liability for homeowners who fail to safely store their firearms.

    The case involved the May 10, 1999, shooting of Westminster Police Officer Lawrence M. Jupin by Jason Rivers. Rivers shot Officer Jupin three times with a .357 Magnum handgun. Officer Jupin fell into a coma and died after 3 Ĺ years in a vegetative state. Rivers had a history of violent criminal activity and was a paranoid schizophrenic. Despite Jasonís record of violence, homeowner Sharon Kask allowed Jasonís father to store an arsenal of thirty firearms in her home in a makeshift gun cabinet, and she gave Jason free access to her home. The cabinet was locked but was made of particle board and could easily be disassembled with a screwdriver. Jason unscrewed the cabinetís lock and took the gun he used to kill Officer Jupin.

    Daniel Vice, Staff Attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, stated, ďThis ruling sends a clear message that guns must be stored locked and unloaded. A police officerís life could have been saved if this arsenal of guns had been secured. Irresponsibility with guns is everyoneís problem.Ē

    The ruling is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and sets new precedent allowing liability against people who allow guns to be stored unsafely in their home. The decision follows rulings in other states holding gun owners liable for shootings that occur because they have failed to secure firearms in their homes. Courts in Indiana, Kansas and Montana have recently expanded liability of gun owners who fail to secure their guns. The Brady Center submitted briefs to the courts in Indiana and Kansas urging them to find liability for irresponsible gun owners.

    Between 1999 and 2003, firearms killed 973 people in Massachusetts, 390 of which were homicides. Failure to securely store firearms in the home is a leading cause of preventable shooting deaths. Studies have found a significant correlation between rates of household gun ownership and homicides.

    The brief was submitted by attorneys for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Daniel Swanson, formerly of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C. The International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Massachusetts Million Mom March, and Stop Handgun Violence joined the Brady Centerís amicus (friend of the court) brief.

    The article can be found at; http://www.commondreams.org/news2006/0630-03.htm
    So this means it's not good enough to have your gun locked up or even disabled.
    If your method of otherwise lawful storage is not extremely durable and it's breeched then subsequently used in a crime then you are on the hook.
    In this specific case the lockable container was not the most durable of containers but still it was locked per the letter of the law.
    As well she allowed a juvenile known to have behavioral issues to have free access to her home in which the boys dad had a gun collections stored. Bad move.

    The arguments toward this case can be found here; http://www.suffolk.edu/sjc/archive/2006/SJC_09538.html

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing


  2. #2
    VIP Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    As well she allowed a juvenile known to have behavioral issues to have free access to her home in which the boys dad had a gun collections stored. Bad move.
    That last bit is why I think they ruled against her.

    Here's a hypothetical:

    Let's say I have a firearm in my home. It is not locked up in a safe or secured other than behind my locked front door. BG breaks in & steals it...should I be liable for that? No.....

    From what I've seen, all the places where the owner was liable, they knew the miscreant that had easy access to the firearm.
    Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.-Seneca

    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. If I have a gun, what do I have to be paranoid about?" -Clint Smith

    "An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." -Jeff Cooper

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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    "Rivers had a history of violent criminal activity and was a paranoid schizophrenic."

    So what in the heck was he doing out of prison?
    "If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan

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    Member Array Dunmaglas's Avatar
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    Disgusting.

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    Hmmm,well there ya go...it is someones fault besides the criminal that commited the crime.....that was easy,Next!

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    Senior Member Array Pitmaster's Avatar
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    Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

    I suppose if someone picks up a baseball bat and hits someone over the head and kills them the bat owner is liable.
    Pitmaster

    HELGA: Where are you going?
    HAGAR: To sign a peace treaty with the King of England.
    HELGA: Then why take all those weapons?
    HAGAR: First we gotta negotiate...

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    The heart of the matter

    As disgusting as this entire story was, I noticed one line that appears to have been the critical error on the part of the homeowner Kask who was found guilty of negligence:

    Despite Jasonís record of violence, homeowner Sharon Kask allowed Jasonís father to store an arsenal of thirty firearms in her home in a makeshift gun cabinet, and she gave Jason free access to her home.
    I am baffled why Kask would allow another person to store 30 guns in her home and then permit the known troublemaker Jason to have access to her home. This seems like an open invitation to a tragedy, and an incredibly stupid move on Kask's part.

    If the facts of the case had been that Kask stored her own guns in a locked safe in her home, and that a burglar unknown to her had broken in, cracked the safe, and used a stolen gun to later kill a police officer, I believe the outcome in court would have been favorable for Kask.

    It was Kask's negligence and stupidity that landed her in this difficulty, not the fact that a gun stolen from her house was used in a crime.
    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    If a .45 pistol were laid on the kitchen table in a house full of children, we wouldn't be having the conversation. Clearly, that's negligence on the part of the owner, to allow a gun to lie about in that way.

    The thing of it is, having guns in an unsecured case while offering free and open access to relatively unknown persons (by invitation) isn't so very different from the kitchen table example, above.

    Now, that said, I am hardly a proponent of forcible modes of security imposed by the state. But, the reality is, leaving a gun lying around contributes to the situation, whereas storage of the same weapons in a safe is in an entirely different class. Clearly, in the case of a child of the homeowner or that child's friends; less so, perhaps, in the case of non-child visitor invited into the home.

    I believe: secure storage is important; secure storage should not be forced upon people by the state; lawsuits for actual contributory negligence should be as easy to leverage as they have ever been, providing a simple and clear deterrent to negligence; and that unlawful theft of properly stored items should never come back to haunt the owners as if they had caused anything to happen.
    Last edited by ccw9mm; December 18th, 2007 at 10:11 AM.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    VIP Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    .....
    I believe: secure storage is important; secure storage should not be forced upon people by the state;
    ...unless the government will buy me a new safe! (kidding!!!!)
    Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.-Seneca

    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. If I have a gun, what do I have to be paranoid about?" -Clint Smith

    "An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." -Jeff Cooper

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    VIP Member Array cphilip's Avatar
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    Can we assume that the father had the guns stored in another home was to deny access to the Son? And if so then why did she allow him free access to her home as she must have known the reason the Guns were stored there? I would certainly like to know more about this whole arrangement before concluding anything. Because this doesn't so much become a gun case as it becomes a simple gross negligence case if she was an agent of protection for those guns from that very person and allowed access anyway. And why she would agree to be an agent of protection without a proper containment Safe is beyond me.

    It would be entirely different, I think, had she denied him free access and he broke in to get them. No matter what the condition of the cabinet might be.

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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    We should also throw innocent people in jail if their car is stolen and used in a crime, and the same should happen if their stolen money is used to buy drugs. Come on Mass, let's be fair about this.

    Oh, and doesn't their new law sound a lot like the one in DC?
    "If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array LenS's Avatar
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    This is very old news at this point.

    - It is my understanding that the man and woman were living together (she owned the home), although not married. Thus the "storing in another's home" comment is not really correct. Both lived there.

    - MGLs says all guns must be locked up or have a trigger lock/other disabling device at all times when not under DIRECT control of licensed person. Most would think a wooden cabinet with a padlock (no matter how cheesy) was sufficient, and it meets the law as written.

    - Case revolved around perp with access to home, hinges on wooded cabinet were readily removable from outside (I believe he used a screwdriver), and thus the court ruled that they "weren't secured adequately" in this case.

    - MA is very soft on criminals, lifers don't serve anything like "life" sentences, crime is blamed on everything and everyone EXCEPT the perp. MA judges/politicians/media hate guns, so the guns get blamed for all crimes, not the perp.

    IMNSHO if a gun is locked adequately in a home (meets MGLs), a perp breaks in (not one that lives with you), steals the gun and mis-uses it . . . I fully expect the gun owner to be arrested and charged with a crime. The legal gun owner will no doubt be facing more serious penalties than the perp who stole it. Plea-bargain (to include loss of rights for life) would be the most likely outcome for the legal gun owner . . . as it is either that or family bankruptcy fighting a corrupt judicial system.

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    Senior Member Array cwblanco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goawayfarm View Post
    MA residents you will really want to read this whole press release and take this 'news' to heart.
    Non MA residents may want to take this to heart as well.
    The headline is somewhat misleading. The case will now be sent back to the trial court for a trial. The plaintiff still must prove negligence. In a jury trial it means that the plaintiff will still have to convince the jury that the home owner was negligent. That would be a most difficult task in most regions of the country, and perhaps even in Massachusetts.

    This decision is a 2006 decision. The case was an appeal is from a summary judgment proceeding where the court gives a preliminary ruling based on undisputed facts. The court rejected the Brady Center's position that there should be strict liability. However, the court remanded the case back to the trial court for a trial on the question of negligence. Still though, the ruling by the MA appellate court is far different from what would be decided by most states. Most states would hold that under such circumstances, there is no duty to protect the public from burglars stealing fire arms, and the defendant would win in the summary judgment proceeding, thereby barring any jury trial on the question of negligence.

    This case is a lot different from the one where a loaded weapon is left around and is accessible to a child (illegal in many if not most jurisdictions).

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwblanco View Post
    ...This case is a lot different from the one where a loaded weapon is left around and is accessible to a child (illegal in many if not most jurisdictions).
    That is obviously not the case here, I don't know why anyone would think as much _if_ they read the whole of the article as I'd stated should do.

    Lens it's not that old, just over a year.
    And it remains timely for sake of information to those who might be aware of this case in specific and how it affects them directly in general, who live in MA like me, which is why I posted it noting the action date was two summers ago as indicated in the press release.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array cwblanco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    That is obviously not the case here, I don't know why anyone would think as much if they read the whole of the article as I'd stated should do.
    As to what I perceived as a hint that I did not read your original post, you are invited to read my complete response, from which the important part was omitted in your message.

    http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulle...0&postcount=13

    In fact, I went back and read the actual decision.

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