Massachusetts Legal Blog

School Shooting Warning Signs | Massachusetts Child Access Prevention and Locking Device Laws

School Shootings in MA and How to Protect Yourself

While it is a topic no one ever wants to think about or plan for, school shootings are a reality today. There is no way to prevent any and all school shootings, just as there are no sure-fire ways to prevent any other tragedy. School shooting incidents can happen in any school, public or private, and across all geographic and socio-economic lines. Even though there is a randomness to school shooting incidents in this country, there are steps students and adults can take to protect themselves if they are ever in a school or work shooting incident. Parents should also be aware of the laws that may affect them if their child is ever implicated in a gun-related incident. If your child is accused of a violent crime in school, you should speak with a criminal lawyer who is experienced in juvenile law.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Living in fear is not an option, but there are ways to minimize the chances of becoming a victim. Many schools are incorporating active shooter drills into their safety plans and procedures, just as they have conducted fire and tornado drills. These drills can make students more aware of their surroundings, including being conscious of escape routes for various parts of the building. One action everyone should try and take is to physically distance themselves from a shooter. Many people freeze when confronted with something so unexpected and frightening. Rewiring your mind to take action and flee can take practice and forethought, but it can also save your life. Another maneuver being taught as part of active shooter drills is how to properly hide and barricade yourself. Hiding completely out of sight, away from doorways and windows is ideal. Locking doors and covering windows also increases the likelihood that you will come away unscathed. As with any drill, the more a scenario is practiced and discussed, the better prepared everyone will be.

Parental Responsibility if Children Commit a Gun Crime

Whenever a minor child has committed a crime resulting in damages or injuries, the parents or legal guardians can be held accountable, according to Massachusetts law. When it comes to weapons, there can be serious consequences if a minor commits a crime with their parent’s gun. Massachusetts has a Child Access Prevention Law and Locking Device Law. These laws are designed to minimize the chance of a child getting a gun. The laws also work to prevent accidental discharge. Guns in Massachusetts homes with children must be locked up. If they are accessible, and parents or guardians have reasonable knowledge that a child can access the weapon, that adult can be held criminally responsible for the actions of the child with that gun. The penalty for violating the Child Access Prevention Law can be a fine or even jail time for parents.

When parents abide by the laws pertaining to child access of guns, the incidence of children getting a hold of a gun drops dramatically. When people know how to best safeguard themselves and teach themselves how to react in a school shooting situation, there is a greater chance of survival. Preparedness, combined with knowledge of the current Massachusetts statutes, can help make schools and society a little bit safer for us all.

By Anna Shapiro