After the state legislature failed to pass two gun safety measures last session, Seattle is taking the matter into its own hands. Yesterday the City Council’s Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans, and Educations Committee advanced Mayor Jenny Durkan’s gun safety proposal out of committee to a full council vote.
The legislation would require the safe storage of firearms within the city and would make it a civil infraction with a $500 fine if not stored properly. If the improperly stored firearm is obtained by a minor or by another at-risk person, the fine jumps to $1000, and there is a $10,000 penalty if the improperly stored firearm is used in the commission of a crime.
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A recent study from the University of Washington found that 63% of Washington gun owners do not store firearms locked. Access to unlocked firearms has been found to be associated with a greater risk of firearm suicide among both youths and adults. Recently Public Health – Seattle & King County has targeted unsafe gun storage as a public health problem through its LOK-IT-UP program, which seeks to educate the public as to the dangers of unsafe storage and offers advice and discounts on safe storage options.
In a statement, Mayor Durkan emphasized the importance of safe storage in reducing gun violence.
“The level of gun violence in our communities is just not normal. While we can’t prevent every gun tragedy, we can act to save lives. We know that unsecured, unsafely stored guns help fuel this crisis of violence because they are more likely to cause tragic accidents, fall into the wrong hands, or be used in suicides. Requiring that gun owners safely store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live.”
The legislation was developed with City Councilmember Lorena Gonzales (Position 9 – Citywide) who said of it,
“This legislation is a modest action requiring gun owners to safely store their firearms, so they don’t get into the hands of our children. Responsible gun owners already lock up their firearms. This legislation identifies resources and educational tools to encourage more gun owners to do the same for one purpose – to prevent the loss of lives.”
A full council vote on the legislation is expected in the upcoming weeks.