FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 30, 2006
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 ½ years in a vegetative state. Rivers had a history of violent criminal activity and was a paranoid schizophrenic. Despite Jason’s record of violence, homeowner Sharon Kask allowed Jason’s 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 cabinet’s lock and took the gun he used to kill Officer Jupin.
Daniel Vice, Staff Attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, stated, “This ruling sends a clear message that guns must be stored locked and unloaded. A police officer’s life could have been saved if this arsenal of guns had been secured. Irresponsibility with guns is everyone’s problem.”
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 Center’s amicus (friend of the court) brief.
The article can be found at; http://www.commondreams.org/news2006/0630-03.htm