Father loses custody over unsecured loaded firearm

In a recently published decision, January 24, 2017, a Court of Appeal in California upheld a father losing custody of his children in a juvenile court dependency case (Child Protective Service case). His children were a 4-year old girl and a 6-month old boy. The father was a licensed security guard who had a permit to carry an exposed firearm. He had been unemployed for several years and was the children’s primary caretaker. The father stored a loaded 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun with extra magazines and loose ammunition in a closet between the kitchen and the bedrooms. The gun was in a black nylon bag on the third shelf from the bottom about four feet up from the ground. It was accessible to his children.

The father was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He was observed leaving his house. His truck was stopped and the DEA found three pounds of crystal methamphetamine in the truck. During questioning, the father told the police about his loaded firearm in the hall closet. The police found the gun and notified Child Protective Services of the father’s endangering his children by leaving a loaded firearm in a location accessible to his children. A dependency petition was filed in Juvenile Court to remove custody of the children from their father. The court had no problem with finding that a young child with access to a loaded gun is at substantial risk of serious physical harm. The court’s research did not find any published cases in California on this issue, but did find a number of published decision from other states (New York, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia) which also removed children from their parent(s) due to leaving a loaded firearm accessible to children. The court did cite a California case which found that leaving drugs in a location accessible to their children exposed the children to substantial risk of serious physical harm. It manifested a “gross lack of attention to the child’s welfare.”

The court referred to cases from the New York courts which found a parent endangers a child by leaving a firearm within reach of a child. In one of the cases cited the mother left a loaded gun on a bed accessible to her 3-year-old son and next to her 5-month-old daughter who was in a crib, thereby creating an imminent danger that their physical, mental, and emotional health would be harmed. In another published decision, the New York Appellate courts upheld a finding of parental neglect where the parent was storing illegal guns in the home where the children had access to them. In a third case, the court found parental neglect where the father kept “a loaded semi-automatic gun in a plastic bin near where the child slept.”

Please review my prior blog where a father negligently stored a loaded revolver in the garage. His children and a neighbor boy found the loaded handgun while playing in the garage. The neighbor boy was shot and killed. The father was criminally prosecuted for child endangerment. He received a sentence of 4 years in prison. A New Jersey father received a 3-year prison sentence for negligent storage of a firearm. He kept an unlocked, loaded .22 caliber rifle in his bedroom. His 4-year-old son found the rifle, took it outside, and shot his 6-year-old friend in the head. The child died the next day.
I cannot stress enough that both parents have a duty to protect their children and not expose them to substantial risks to their safety and/or emotional well being. It is not sufficient for either parent to say it is not my gun and that the other parent is responsible for it. Make sure any guns in the home are kept in a locked, secure gun safe and your children cannot gain access to them without parental supervision.


Texting Codes-Do You Know What They Mean?

Texting codes translated

The BBC App recently posted codes teenagers use to disguise their phone and online messages. The following is a quick guide to some of the texting codes teenagers are using these days:

WYRN: What’s your real name?
HAK: Hugs and kisses
ASL: Age, sex and location
WTTP: Want to trade pictures?
53X: Sex
CU46: See you for sex
NIFOC: Naked in front of computer
PAL: Parents are listening
KPC: Keeping parents clueless
PRON: Porn
ZERG: To gang up on someone
RU/18: Are you over 18?
BROKEN: Hungover
LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life

Please review some of my prior blogs regarding Smartphones. We strongly encourage parents to delay providing Smartphones with internet connectivity to their teenagers until they graduate from high school. A friend of mine told me her way of managing this was to tell her two sons that should they wish data for their phones they could get jobs and pay for it. It worked with great success.

Lives Can Be Destroyed by Risky Sexual Behavior

Risky Sexual behavior

A January 2017 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune was captioned “Naval Officer To Face Trial on Felony Attempted Rape Charges.” He allegedly sexually assaulted a fellow female officer. The article set forth he was married and has 5 children. He has been in the Navy 16 years. The service will surely dishonorably discharge him if found guilty. His five children will likely be without a father for a number of years, if convicted, while he serves prison time. Throughout my legal career I have represented men like him. But this is not about him. It is about the wake of destruction and hurt he has caused.

Service men/women who commit felony offenses will be dishonorably discharged from the service. If they do not have their 20 years in for retirement, they and their dependents lose everything. The service does not provide any source of income to their wives/husbands. The family loses their health benefits. A service man/woman could have honorably done their job for 19 years but it all goes out the window if they get kicked out of the service.

If you believe that any of us is not capable, under the right circumstances, of engaging in some taboo or criminal behavior, I must respectfully disagree with you. Being an attorney for over 46 years dealing with adults and juveniles engaging in risky/criminal behavior I have seen it all. I have represented a number of juveniles charged with rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, lewd conduct with younger children, making terrorist threats and many other type offenses.

Parents must be aware and properly supervise what their children are doing, both at home, at school, on the internet and social media, and know their friends. Do not fool yourself that your great kid would never engage in harmful behavior. As the Navy Commander displayed by putting himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, even well-educated adults can engage in extremely risky and family-destroying behavior.

I am amazed how many parents do not know the laws concerning the age of consent for sexual acts between teenagers. They do not know if their teenagers are engaging in sexual intercourse. This type of behavior can lead to very serious charges being filed against your teenager that can have lifelong consequences. If you think your parental job is over when they graduate from high school, your young adult needs as much if not more counseling/warning of the dangers they are facing with unlawful sexual behavior and acts in college. The federal government is coming down very hard on college students who allegedly commit sexual abuse, assault, or engage in relationship violence in violation of Title IX. Unless the colleges very aggressively pursue these types of charges, they can lose their federal funding. The federal government has even put into the regulations that an alleged victim is totally immune when making false allegations and cannot be disciplined and sued for making up lies about their alleged assault/attack. Not only does your young adult have a good chance of being expelled from their college, but they can be criminally prosecuted and face mandatory prison time.

I strongly recommend parents use the amended Consent to Engage in Sexual Acts form to discuss with their teenagers/family members what they have to be very careful about before engaging in risky/criminal type behavior. It discusses the age of consent to engage in sexual acts, acquiring signed consent, intoxication, safe words, birth control, and sexual diseases. Start parenting/counseling your children on these subjects when they enter middle school. Sexting and engaging in unlawful sexual conduct is taking place by middle schools students.


Replicating the lack of gun violence in Japan here in the United States.

On January 10, 2017, the British Broadcasting Service published a blog on how Japan has almost eradicated gun violence. It sets forth that in 2014 there were just 6 gun deaths in Japan, compared to 33,599 in the U.S. In 2015 there were 372 mass shootings, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870 in the U.S. according to Mass Shooting Tracker. There were 64 school shootings in 2015. Some 13,286 people were killed in the U.S. by firearms in 2015 and 26,819 people were injured. These figures exclude suicide. Of all the murders in the U.S. in 2012, 60% were by firearms compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia and just 10% in the U.K. (BBC-Guns in the U.S: The Statistics Behind the Violence). The death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the United States. There were about 1.4 million deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.

Before you can get a gun in Japan where only shotguns and rifles are allowed, there are mental health and drug tests. You must attend an all-day class, take a written exam, and pass a shooting range test with a mark of at least 95%. Handguns are banned outright. The law restricts the number of gun shops. You can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges bought on your last visit. The police must be notified where the gun and the ammunition are stored-and they must be stored separately under lock and key. The police will inspect guns once a year. Your gun license runs for three years at which point you have to attend the course and pass the tests again.

Japanese police rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts. All are expected to become a black belt in judo. They also practice kendo–fighting with bamboo swords. In 2015 only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide. If a person is being violent or drunk they will get huge futons and essentially roll up the person who is being violent or drunk and carry them back to the station. The police never carry weapons off-duty, leaving them at the station when they finish their shift. They are required to account for every bullet shell.

The U.S. spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime. According to an article in the L.A. Times, Melissa Healy sets forth that over the last 10 years influenza has claimed on average just short of 33,000 lives a year, motor vehicle accidents just over 35,000 lives each year, and cancer of the urinary system just over 32,000 lives. Gun violence claims an average of about 33,000 lives a year. All but gun violence have a large and active community of medical or public health research, fueled largely by federal funds, exploring ways to reduce or prevent fatalities. In a 1996 funding bill, gun rights advocates and their allies on Capitol Hill forbade the use of any money being appropriated for the Centers of Disease and Control and Prevention “to advocate or promote gun control.” Over the ensuing years, that ban was extended to other agencies, including the National Institute of Health.

The recent shooting in the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting is an example of how the police authorities (FBI and local police) appear to be without a lawful means and/or are powerless to seize a mentally unstable person’s weapon. The shooter told authorities in Alaska he had watched Jihadist videos and they were controlling his mind. Sources quoted the police as saying he clearly stated “he did not intend to harm anyone.” They referred him for a psychiatric evaluation. This former soldier ended up killing five people and injuring eight at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Last year a man inspired by IS killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. The FBI had been given information about him prior to the killings. The carnage appears to be rampant as it is constantly being reported by the media.

You might say to yourself there is no chance of gun control because the gun lobby in the U.S. is too powerful. I’m sure the same sort of language of hopelessness was used when the Federal Civil Rights Act was first introduced and later enacted in 1968. The school shootings, mass killings, and senseless killings will continue in the United States as long as there is a proliferation of guns. Congratulations to the Japanese people and their legislators to almost eradicate gun crime in their country.

Please review some of my prior blogs:
Civil Liability for Negligent Storage of Firearms;
Father Faces Prison Sentence for Negligent Storage of His Firearm;
Guns–One of the Leading Causes of Death in Children Under 18 in the United States-Part 1 andPart 2;
Who Should be Held Responsible for a 5-year old killing his 2-year old sister;
Ten-year old Takes Semiautomatic Gun to School.



Learn how to keep your children safe on smartphones. Do they really need snapchat?

A 16-year-old male student in Plano, TX, wrote his Snapchat user name on top of an algebra test. His 23-year-old female teacher replied using Snapchat. Their relationship developed into exchanging nude pictures of each other and sexual intercourse on several occasions. The first sexual liaison with the student took place when the teacher’s fiancé was away for the weekend. She explained she intended to break off her relationship with her fiancé. She told the police she knew the relationship with her student was wrong but it felt right at the time. The teacher resigned from the school district and is facing serious criminal charges.

Adults, whether they are teachers, coaches, youth ministers, scout leaders, or a Big Brother/Sister, who socialize with minors can become sexually attracted to them. The minors feel special and will participate in sexual acts with the adult. This behavior will continue to take place until the minor eventually discloses the relationship.

Would this destructive behavior between the teacher and student have taken place without the communication on Snapchat? Most probably not. Adults and teenagers foolishly think they can secretly communicate and exchange nude or inappropriate pictures without consequences.

Apps like Snapchat can be very destructive. Do not permit your minor/s to have Snapchat on their phone. I believe a large number of minors are using Snapchat and other Apps like it to exchange nude and/or inappropriate photographs. Even adults should not have Snapchat on their phone. This type of secretive communication behavior can lead to unforeseen, destructive consequences.

See my previous blog entitled Female Teachers Having Sex With Students.

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