Guardian Ad Litem, Child Safety, Safety, Gun Safety, Gun, NRA, Firearms, Loaded Weapon, Constitutional Carry, Right to Bear Arms, Constitutional Rights, Family Law, CPS, Guardian Ad litem, Gun Safety in Virginia, Legal Process.


What To Do When… You’re A Parent Who Owns Guns.

What To Do When Legal Chat Podcast... As Seen on the News from Critzer Cardani PC

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The objective of the What To Do When… podcast is to discuss common legal scenarios faced by everyday citizens in Virginia. Critzer and Cardani practice law throughout Virginia and focus their practice around the state’s capital of Richmond, in the Piedmont region. Tune in and subscribe to learn about legal topics such as reckless driving by speeding, bad lawyers, Will Knows Weed, juvenile defense, juvenile sex crimes, reckless driving, the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, divorce 101, Child Support, There is Still Hope, and others.

WTDW Podcast | Episode 66: What To Do When… You’re A Parent Who Owns Guns.

On this legal video podcast chat with a Gun Safety and Family Law Legal subject matter in our What To Do When… podcast series, please join our hosts Jackie Critzer and Scott Cardani as they share about What To Do When… You’re A Parent Who Owns Guns. This video and audio podcast episode focuses on the legal slant concerning children and gun safety in Virginia.

Tune in today for not only our top 3 take-aways, but also some chat about the following subject matters and other helpful action items from a ‘legal chat slant’ from Critzer Cardani’s legal partners.

* Gun ownership and safety for parents.
* Gun Safety around Children.
* Gun safety and custody battles. (6:58)
* Gun laws and personal responsibility. (10:42)
* Gun rights and custody cases. (13:43)

Watch the Video, Listen to the Audio version and / or Follow, Like, and Share… “What To Do When…” Legal Chat Podcast from Critzer Cardani PC.

The objective of the What To Do When… podcast is to discuss common legal scenarios faced by everyday citizens in Virginia. Critzer and Cardani practice law throughout Virginia and focus their practice around the state’s capital of Richmond, in the Piedmont region. Tune in and subscribe to learn about legal topics such as reckless driving by speeding, bad lawyers, Will Knows Weed, juvenile defense, juvenile sex crimes, reckless driving, the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, divorce 101, Child Support, There is Still Hope and others.

Thank you for sending us your feedback, questions, or topic suggestions for future #WTDW | What To Do When… episodes by emailing [email protected].

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What To Do When… Intro 00:01
Welcome to What To Do When… A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss what to do when and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.

Jackie Critzer 0:29

Hey, welcome back to another podcast here at Critzer Cardani, in Richmond, Virginia. I’m Jackie.

Scott Cardani 0:34

I’m Scott, what’s on the docket for today Jackie?

Jackie Critzer 0:38
What To Do When… You’re A Parent Who Owns Guns.

Scott Cardani 0:43
Why would that matter?

Jackie Critzer 0:45
Well, I mean, common sense, says, Well, you should be taking extra precautions. If you’re a parent who owns guns, that seems just like common sense to me.

Scott Cardani 0:56
It is common sense. And you know, what’s coming up a lot that we see. And this is why we decided to do this podcast because I don’t think parents are really aware of what’s going on societal, societal Lee and other things that are really important. And you need to know about and that is with gun ownership. Obviously, there’s two camps in gun ownership right now that are really or. One camp says you should never have any gun for any reason. And there’s no reason to ever have a gun. And then the other camp says, you know, the opposite, that every gun is okay, no matter what. And we won’t say what camp we’re in. But regardless of that, what you need to know is that there is a camp out there that believe that guns are inherently dangerous. The reason I bring that up is you’ll see it a lot like in custody cases where a guardian ad litem gets appointed. And a lot of the Guardian ad items now they do do what’s called a questionnaire that they want the parents to ask. And a lot of times they’re asking questions about your ownership of guns. Which quite frankly, I think is a violation of my constitutional right, whether I wouldn’t have to answer that. But it’s being asked, it’s being answered. And you need to know as a parent how to deal with that. And you can choose not to answer it, if you so choose. I think that’s very valid, your attorney can handle that. But if you decide to answer it, you need to know the implications. And what’s behind that, because what I didn’t even know till just recently is this law in Virginia. Jackie, it’s kind of crazy.

Jackie Critzer 1:01
Tell me about it.

Scott Cardani 2:03
It’s 18.2 56.2 for those who like to look things up, but it’s allowing access to firearms by children. And so again, Jackie’s right it sounds like common sense. Of course, you don’t allow access to firearms, to children.

Jackie Critzer 2:43
Especially loaded, right, I’m not just going to leave a loaded gun in a coffee table, or a cabinet or somewhere that a child or neighbor’s children or grandchildren, whatever can come in, and find it. In a situation where maybe they’re on I’m not sure when they’re going to be unsupervised. But either way, if they were maybe my 12 and 13 year olds got left home while I went to the grocery store. I don’t have a 12 or 13 year old.

You would never do that. That’s a whole ‘nother topic, isn’t it. Anyways. But what if you’re one of these guys like James Bond who has a gun or under the coffee table, one up over the frigerator? Whatever it is, in case people come at me, man, I need my guns.


Scott Cardani 3:21
loaded? Well, what good is a gun if it’s not loaded?

Jackie Critzer 3:24
That’s what I hear.

Scott Cardani 3:25
I do believe that argument. But anyways, here we go. Let me read the statute is important. It says it shall be unlawful for any person to recklessly leave a loaded unsecure firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life limb of a child under the age of 14, and it goes on. But that’s, I don’t want to read all of it. It’s, it can get convoluted, but that’s really the issue. So for instance, you’re in a meeting with a guardian ad litem.

Jackie Critzer 3:56

Scott Cardani 3:58
And you say, Yeah, I have guns. I keep going under my pillow. Guardian litem maybe thinks all guns are dangerous. They could probably especially your children on 14, say – Hey police officer, this person has this gun. And they’re recklessly leaving it.

Jackie Critzer 4:25
Well, and it really doesn’t say unattended child. Right. It just says recklessly. If you any person who recklessly leaves a loaded unsecured firearm, I mean, in such a manner as to endanger life. That that’s a ridiculous sort of tail on the end of that. I think that the issue is to leave a reckless to recklessly leave a loaded unsecured firearm. So that means what?

Scott Cardani 4:49
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And see, reckless is this weird word in the law that has a lot of definition history to it. So I have to put on my glasses for this. I apologize, but You know, careless, heeding, indifferent to the consequences, that’s a big one that they pin a lot of things that you were indifferent to the consequences of having a gun.

Jackie Critzer 5:11
I think that makes sense.

Scott Cardani 5:12
So, but remember, the eye of the person judging that can be quite different. Is it a secured gun under your pillow that you believe is for your safety, indifferent to the consequences? I don’t know. According to the circuit, according to the circumstance, that may also mean desperately heedless, excuse me, wanton or willful, and the one that gets really to me is then it goes down. And it also can mean careless, and attentive or negligent. And see when a word use words like this in the law, they’re very dangerous words. I know we love them. And we think they’re all great. But here you go. Again, it becomes the eye of the person who’s judging you to determine whether your gun safety is their gun safety. So for instance, again, and this is where I’m talking about, if you’re a person who believes guns are for the good, then you’re probably not going to find reckless as often as somebody who thinks guns are bad all the time, then any gun in any position is reckless. And so when you get in front of judges, and you get in front of people, that’s all going to come out. So when you’re in these custody battles, and you’re a gun owner, I can see this being used both as a weapon on both sides. One parent who lived in a house with guns for years, can all of a sudden say, Oh, my husband has a lot of guns. I’m going to use this as a tool to get the kids.

Jackie Critzer 6:43

Scott Cardani 6:43
And they do it all the time. Don’t kid yourself. So what the point of today isn’t the biggest part of this is to make you aware that there actually is a statute and some people would feel mandatory reporter to report this.

Jackie Critzer 6:58
Well, who’s who should who can who can report it, and who do they report it to?

Scott Cardani 7:02
Counselors, GALs, doctors, psychologists, you name it.

Jackie Critzer 7:08
Well, but let me just play the other side of this. Okay. So here recently in Virginia, down in Newport News area, we’ve seen it all over the news, this six year old, showed up to school with a gun, his mother’s gun, and he shot his teacher who was in the hospital for a very long time. And it’s our hope that she’s fully recovered and whatnot. It’s a tragic situation. Thankfully, she did not die. That would have been obviously much worse. But the point remains this child to whatever extent had access to his mother’s firearm. Not only access but but took it and had it it, was it loaded, or did he load it, I don’t know those details, took it to school and shot a person he was six years old. Now, mom’s gotten in lots of trouble hurt. I don’t think her trial and everything is finished yet. But I know that they have they have pressed charges against her for child neglect and some other things. But it seems to me that this certainly this code Section applies to that. I think she was reckless. And she left a loaded gun. And in a situation where her six year old got it.

Scott Cardani 8:15
I hear you, but we have to again, context matters. So was the gun in a gun safe and the kid was looking over their shoulder one day and they didn’t see that he got the code? Was there? Was it Uncle Johnny who, you know, removed the gun from the gun safe and didn’t put it back? You know, there’s my point is I hear you. I mean obviously neither one of us advocate for a six year old to be unsecured, and armed. I mean, do I have a problem with a six year old shooting a gun? No. Depends on the gun all those kinds of things. I think there’s I think the earlier you start gun safety with children, the more safe we are as a society. I think people who are trained in gun safety very rarely use guns and appropriately because they understand the power. My children were little they they got the shoot guns. They wanted nothing to do with them because they understood the power, and the loudness.

Jackie Critzer 9:07
That was under your supervision.

Scott Cardani 9:09
Yes, exactly. Always under the supervision. And I would never leave a six year old not with a gun without my supervision or probably never leave it in his hands. I would be holding it with him if he ever did hold it.

Jackie Critzer 9:19

Scott Cardani 9:20
Point being though is my point is you as a gun owner, have to realize that these things are out there nd how they play out in a situation of custody, especially divorce.

Jackie Critzer 9:35
Or if it isn’t even a custody battle. It’s you and your spouse and you’ve gone to the pediatrician and for some reason this comes up and the child somehow mentions firearms. It’s just it could be an attack on your family, not just by one spouse to the other in a custody case it could be really truly an attack on the family by by outside eyes. Now, I do think that it’s pretty vague. And it does leave a lot of room for, as you would say, a critical eye to be too strict on on this. I do think also, though, that if you’re leaving a loaded gun, unsecured in your home, you’re asking for trouble. I don’t care who you are, or who lives in the house, you’re asking for trouble.

Scott Cardani 10:29
And I don’t disagree with that. I think that’s wisdom, especially in our culture. What I want people to know is, these things get politicized really easy. And judges are victim to politicization, whether they admit it or not, it happens all the time.

Jackie Critzer 10:42
Sure, Sure.

I can mention a case where somebody just a judge just did a property in some certain place and undervalued it by about a half a million, half a billion dollars, just because it was a political case. It happens all the time. So if you have people in authority who don’t like your position, these statutes are very dangerous, because they leave things wide open for the interpretation. And that’s what always worries me. And everybody always says, Well, Scott, just like you made the argument and articulate and I agree with you, well, you know, we should have things like this in place. And my argument always is, it’s always okay, until it’s you behind this weapon pointed at you and you go, Well, I was safe. I believe I was safe.


Scott Cardani 11:26
And Jackie says why don’t believe you were safe. You’re getting charged with a misdemeanor, six months in jail. last 12 months in jail, technically. But my point is, we have to be thoughtful about things like this. And Jackie made a good point say the last thing I’ll say, say you’re in counseling, you’re taking your kid to counseling, or you’re in family counseling, because some bad things have happened in same thing. Some reports that dad carries that a concealed carry. He carries his gun everywhere he goes. Or he’s open carry, who cares in Virginia and carried anytime you want. He’s a constitutional carry guy.

Jackie Critzer 12:01

Scott Cardani 12:01
And son who’s trouble brings up in the counseling session, well, that always has his gun. And when we eat, he sets it on the table beside him.

Jackie Critzer 12:11
Is that unsecured?

Scott Cardani 12:12
Is that unsecured? Is that, you know, I can see judges doing both those I can see one judge going that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And I’ve sat in front of other judges who would absolutely find that a violation of the statute.

Jackie Critzer 12:24

Because you pulled out from the kid and see for me, those are the danger signs, those are the warnings, you just have to be wise. And when you’re going out into the world, and you’re taking advantage of the world services, you have to know that some people don’t think like you. And you have to be thinking like they are sometimes. So that’s why we did this What To Do When… and why it was so important to me. You can kind of hear my passion in it, because I’m getting to the point. I’ve been a lawyer a long time. And what I’m learning over and over again, is there’s a lot of laws out there that seem good. But they carry a double, double edged sword. And we all think they’re good until they pointed us. And then we realize, Oh my gosh, I wasn’t wanton. I wasn’t reckless. But somebody else may think you are.


Scott Cardani 12:26
And we have to be really careful what we think we have to be very careful with our children. Obviously, hear us, we promote gun safety. We think guns should be secure and you should be safe. But again, if I train my let’s just say I have a 12 year old kid who’s an excellent marksman training for Olympics.

Jackie Critzer 13:29

Scott Cardani 13:30
You know, and he’s shooting every day and I trust him and that gun, Is that would that be recklessly leaving a gun? I still believe some judge would find that was reckless if you weren’t right there. And some people wouldn’t. And that’s what scares me.

Jackie Critzer 13:43

Scott Cardani 13:43
When you start to flesh this out and you’re sitting in a meeting, you’re telling all and all of a sudden this comes up and you’re have police knocking on your door Social Services knocking at your door saying hey, you’re in trouble, buddy. And then you’re having to come to us.

Jackie Critzer 13:57
Well loaded and unloaded I don’t think is difficult to figure out. That’s clear. recklessly, I think is unclear and secured versus unsecured. I think there’s a lot of room for interpretation on those. And when jurists when judges could disagree about the definition of unsecured or secured and recklessly versus not, I think you you can easily run afoul, even accidentally and maybe even not truly afoul but in the eyes of of disagreeing jurists, you might run a foul so if you find yourself in the situation number one, secure your firearms. Let’s do… Let’s do that. Let’s not have our children being able to get access to our firearms your firearms in your home in your car. That’s another good point. People carry firearms in their vehicles too. Right? And then oh, I left the kids in the car ran in the store.

Scott Cardani 14:48
Yup… This is this is a what if you have in your purse what have you have your concealed carry and you have in your purse? I mean this that’s my point. This is a very very, very tricky…

Jackie Critzer 14:59

Scott Cardani 14:59
Slippery Slope, I see it as quite frankly. And I see it as a play to get power. And I see it as a play to get things done. And so, again, we’ll wrap this up with this, you need to be aware and secure of your firearms, but you need to be reasonably secure and what reasonable is I can’t tell you, because really, it’s going to be in the eye of the beholder. But if you have your gun locked up, you have a trigger safety and all those kinds of things. You’re probably okay. But again, at some judges will say you’re not How dare you carry a gun in your purse? Jackie, think about that.

Jackie Critzer 15:32

Scott Cardani 15:32
So second, if you’re in this situation. I don’t care if it’s a custody case or something and you’re answering questions about guns, get somebody to walk you through it.

Jackie Critzer 15:45

Scott Cardani 15:45
Don’t just answer thinking, Oh, I’m a gun guy, I know what I’m doing. And, you know, they can’t say anything to me. I get it. You have a constitutional right. I support that constitutional right. But you need wisdom when you answer questions. Because the other side may be thinking something different than your thinking and your brashness and your stance may not it may not be the time to make your stance on your constitutional carry rights is not in the custody case.

Jackie Critzer 16:09
We also want to protect your constitutional right to parent your child.

Scott Cardani 16:13
Absolutely, that’s three.

Jackie Critzer 16:13
So it’s a it’s a fine line. We’re here to answer your questions and we look forward to hearing from you. You can reach us at or email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you please subscribe and like.

Scott Cardani 16:29
Thank you.

What To Do When… Outro 16:31
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of What To Do When… For more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.

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