Gun rights groups are posturing to defy the Justice Department’s model legislation published this week that gives states a framework for codifying gun storage rules.
On Wednesday, the DOJ published a framework aimed at helping “more states enact sensible gun-safety laws,” and includes requirements for securing firearms kept in residences and vehicles and requirements for reporting of lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.
“We cannot resign ourselves to losing our neighbors, our loved ones — even our children — to misuse of firearms that could have been kept safely out of reach,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said of the announcement. “The model legislation announced today provides states with new tools to improve the safety of legally-owned firearms and reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in our communities.”
However, Second Amendment advocacy groups Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) say the models are too broad and could undermine self-defense mechanisms for lawful gun owners.
“The NRA is the leader and strongest advocate for responsible storage of firearms,” Jennifer Briemann, at NRA-ILA told Fox News Digital.
Briemann added that the model legislation “irresponsibly and ill-advisedly imposes top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates on how Americans should store their guns.”
“Guns must be stored so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons, but the specifics depend on individual or family circumstances,” said Briemann.
Briemann also charged that the DOJ is using this as an opportunity to push “extreme risk protection orders,” which she called “a sugarcoated term for gun confiscation without due process.”
Chris Stone, director of state and local affairs for Gun Owners of America accused the DOJ of “wasting time and resources trying to coerce state lawmakers across the county to pass unconstitutional firearm storage requirements, just like they’ve tried with gun confiscation laws.”
“At the end of the day, these laws undermine the ability of law-abiding citizens to have reliable access to firearms in home defense scenarios and violate the privacy and private property rights of American citizens.”
GOA said it will fully oppose the legislation “in every state capitol and will aggressively push back with our grassroots army if any lawmakers take the bait.”
The proposed model would require that a possessor of a firearm should, at all times that the firearm is not carried by the owner on their person or within such proximity that the possessor can readily retrieve and use the firearm, secure the firearm in a locked gun safe, or with a properly engaged tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other tamper-resistant safety device rendering the firearm inoperable.
The legislation would impose fines if a gun owner is caught in violation.
In its proposal, the DOJ argued that keeping firearms and ammunition locked has been associated with “a lower risk of firearm injuries for children and teens in homes where guns are stored.”
“Safe storage also protects adults by preventing unintentional shootings and decreasing the risk of gun suicides, gun thefts, and criminal discharges of firearms,” the agency argued.
The DOJ noted that in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of injury deaths for children and teens ages 1-19, firearms are used in nearly half of suicides by minors, and the majority of individuals who carried out a K-12 mass shooting obtained the firearms used in the shooting from a family member.
“The Department is not endorsing any particular formulation of a safe storage statute, and the model legislation is not intended to provide a comprehensive firearm-safety scheme that could be adopted wholesale,” the department said.
“Rather, this model statute draws from the state laws already in existence, identifies key provisions that may be important to help ensure fair, effective; and safe implementation of such a law; and identifies options for states to consider as they legislate in this area,” it said.