Children and use of firearm in home defense

I am instructor in California and had a student ask me a very good question that I couldn’t definitively answer. California law says that a firearm must be stored in a way that would not allow a minor access to the firearm. California law also stated that you have the right to self defense to stop someone from killing you, raping, great bodily harm or mayhem. Would it be illegal if someone was breaking into your home and you have your child access to the combination to the safe to access the firearm and they used it to defend themselves. The laws are grey in this area because on one hand a minor can’t have access but in the other they have a right to defend themselves.

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Stop trying to apply logic to emotional laws. :laughing:

I’m curious if there’s any case law on this. Otherwise it may just continue to be a grey area. Between us, though, these both seem like laws that are passively enforced, after an event. In other words, police aren’t coming to your house to inspect how you store your weapons. But if your child takes one of your firearms and brings it to school, or has a negligent discharge, then police will come to your house and you’ll be charged with improper storage and child endangerment, or whatever they call it there. Similarly, your right to self defense only comes under scrutiny after you act in self defense. So it sounds like both laws exist, but they’re for the prosecutor or a judge to decide how they apply.


When there is a conflict such as this one the question becomes, would I allow myself or my child to DIE so we don’t potentially break a law? I’m sure what the answer is. Preservation of life trumps everything else…


Welcome, @Jonathan103! Don’t you love the hypotheticals as an instructor? :smiley:

I usual reference the shark tank analogy when those types of questions come up. Who or what are you willing to jump in the shark tank to save knowing you might die?

Are you willing to possibly die or spend the rest of your life in jail to protect your loved ones?

In the what if scenario above - if the “children” are home alone they must be of an appropriate age to be home alone. Hopefully responsible firearms owners are training their children in firearm safety and handling (and shooting) in case of just such an emergency.

What would the law say? Depends on the totality of the circumstances, location, and local laws.

Is it the right thing to do? Depends on the child. Would they have the gun taken from them and used on them? Would they be able to shoot in self-defense?

Too many what ifs to give a 100% answer.


Hi Johnathan,

As a fellow SoCal resident…isn’t our state full of contradictions and idiocy? Makes you wonder how dumb our politicians are…well, not really…they’re dumber than dirt.

To answer your question with the response my instructor offered me (he also trains police as well), “Always do your best to follow the laws of this state but recognize that in certain extreme circumstances, rules and laws DO have an exception. We judge based on what a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstance.”

So, let me explain, while making sure I am not offering any legal advice or legal counsel. If you (as a father) are positioning yourself between a threat and your family and ask someone in your family to grab your firearm, that might be considered a reasonable thing to do because you are standing between that threat and your loved ones. If you went to grab the firearm yourself, that threat could grab one of your loved ones and use them to control you. So, in this case, it might be argued that the best course of action would be to ask your family member (possibly even your child) to grab your firearm. Now, IF they’re trained and aware of how to take it, and bring it to you safely it probably would make more sense than if they weren’t. If your child has never been around a firearm, never handled a firearm, and could potentially shoot themselves, you or someone you love…it might be a bad idea and may be considered by others as such. It might also be a bad idea if there’s no arguable reason for you to ask your kid to retrieve your weapon like, you’re searching for a flashlight and have them grab your gun. It’s about being smart in my mind…or at least smarter than the idiots trying to take our rights away from us.

Now…with all that said and done…it’s still up to the judge and/or jury as to whether THEY feel your actions were justified and in this state, there’s no telling which way the wind will blow.