Texas is among the states with the fewest restrictions for gun owners in the country. While it may seem like it to those on the outside, not everyone in Texas has or feels comfortable around guns. Often parents have very different views on the subject – particularly when it involves their children.
For divorcing parents who intend to share custody of their child, if one parent owns guns and the other doesn’t, the non-gun-owning parent may be concerned that their co-parent won’t always properly secure their firearms and ammunition now that they’re living on their own. That can be truly frightening if your child will be spending time there.
What does Texas law say?
Your co-parent should secure their weapons and ammo when your child is around out of concern for their safety (and that of others) but also because the law can hold them responsible if they don’t. While Texas doesn’t have a “safe storage” law, under Texas law, if a minor has access to a loaded gun (even if they don’t fire it or harm anyone) without adult supervision, they can be charged with criminal negligence.
While you can’t keep your co-parent from legally possessing guns or even letting your child have access to a weapon if they’re supervising them, you can seek to include terms in your parenting plan around guns. Your co-parent would need to agree to those terms, however. (We’re assuming here that your co-parent doesn’t have a history of violence toward you or your child.)
Do you have any legal options?
Unless you have reason to fear for your child’s safety (for example, if they’ve gotten ahold of your co-parent’s gun in the past) and can make a case for that to a judge, you likely can’t prevent your co-parent from sharing custody or require them to give up their weapons if their child is going to live with them part of the time. If you learn from your child or others that your co-parent is not being a responsible gun-owning parent, then you may have grounds to limit their access to your child.
If your co-parent knows that you’re prepared to do that, it can be a strong incentive to take extra care with their weapons. Negotiating a parenting plan that addresses firearms can help you make your wishes clear.
Whether you do this through a mediated or litigated divorce, having experienced legal guidance can help you work to avoid a worst-case scenario while still allowing your co-parent to be a responsible gun owner.