If you find out that a weapon you own was used to commit a crime, you may begin to panic. Does that mean you’re liable? Or even worse, does that make you an accomplice? Here are some questions to ask in order to determine your liability as a gun owner.
Did you willingly let them borrow your gun?
Or did they steal your gun? If your gun was taken without your consent and used to commit a crime, you cannot be held criminally or civilly responsible.
If you let the individual borrow your gun, unaware of what they were going to do with it, you may face civil penalties. However, criminal penalties are typically only given to the perpetrator.
For information on firearms lending laws in California, click here.
Did you lend your gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm?
If the answer is yes, then that is a crime.
In California, you are generally prohibited from possessing a firearm if:
- You are under 21 years old
- You have been convicted of a felony
- You have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor
- You suffer from substance abuse disorder
For a more detailed list of firearms prohibiting categories, click here.
If you are found guilty of loaning your firearm to a person who is not allowed to have one, you could face misdemeanor or even felony charges resulting in expensive fines and potential jail time.
If the gun is then used in the commission of a felony, the lender could be given extra years of jail time.
Did you know what they were going to do with the gun?
If you loaned someone your firearm knowing that they were going to use it to commit a criminal offense, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble for aiding and abetting. Aiding and abetting is when someone helps or encourages another person to commit a crime. If you give someone a weapon to be used during a crime, you can be charged. This is true even if you didn’t have any other role in the crime and weren’t present at the scene.
California Weapons Defense Attorneys
Gun laws are complex and strictly enforced. Our advice to gun owners is to never lend your gun to anyone. Even if you believe it is legal and would not be a liability, it’s better to be safe than sorry.