On New Year’s Eve in 2010, Charlie Ciotta called his son a few hours before midnight to wish him an early happy new year. They talked about safety, and the 29-year-old promised he wouldn’t drink and drive.
Just hours later, Joshua Brown was dead — but not because of what his father feared.
The Texas Tech student was relaxing on the couch after a night of drinking alcohol and celebrating the holiday with friends when one of them accidentally discharged a gun that was allegedly left loaded and unsecured in the home.
Three years later, on the eve of another new year, Brown’s death serves as a reminder of the dangers of mixing guns and alcohol. In a state full of gun owners who are largely protected by the law, the case also raises larger questions about who should be responsible when something goes wrong.
Texas, unlike some other states, doesn’t dictate how guns should be stored. Leaving a gun out where others might use it to cause harm isn’t a criminal offense, unless a child gets hold of it. Also, with the exception of concealed-handgun license holders, it is not a crime to handle a gun while intoxicated.
Texas laws are designed “to balance the need to be able to use the gun and be able to store it safely,” said Sean Healy, a Tyler attorney who often works on firearm-related cases.
Source: Dallas Morning News