Legislation Would Increase Civil Penalties and Legal Responsibility for Individuals Who Fail to Responsibly Store Their Firearms
Seattle (July 9) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today celebrate the Seattle City Council’s passage of her legislation to reduce gun violence by requiring responsible storage of firearms unless carried by or under the control of an owner or lawfully authorized user.
The legislation increases civil penalties and legal responsibility for failure to report unsecured firearms that are lost, stolen, or improperly used by an unauthorized user.It was developed in collaboration with Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide), and based on input from stakeholders including gun owners, safety advocates, community members, public health experts, and others.
“This is the kind of action we need to save lives. While we can’t prevent every gun death or injury, we can take steps to help prevent future tragedies,” said Mayor Durkan. “We know that unsecured, unsafely stored guns help fuel this crisis of violence because they are more likely to cause accidents, fall into the wrong hands, or be used in suicides. Requiring that gun owners responsibly store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live. In the coming weeks, I will sign this legislation into law– and we will keep acting to prevent tragedies.”
“Seattle is unafraid to be a leader and take legislative action on measures to reduce and prevent gun violence. We were the first city in the country to fund regional gun-violence research through an excise tax on the sale of guns and ammunition, for example,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “Today, we passed modest legislation requiring all gun owners to lock-up their firearms when it is out of the owner’s immediate possession or control and imposing higher civil penalties when an owner fails to report a lost or stolen firearm. These bills will result in keeping guns out of the hands of children and others who do not have a legal right to possess a firearm and will result in less suicides and preventable gun deaths.”
“Safe storage is a core element of responsible gun ownership,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. "It’s been an honor to work with Mayor Durkan and the City Council to develop this common-sense gun safety legislation meant to save lives. The status quo clearly hasn’t kept guns out of the hands of children or other unauthorized users.”
A recent UniversityofWashingtonstudy found that nearly two in three gun-owning households in Washington State do not responsibly store their firearms.
Nearly 1,300 children die from gunshot wounds each year. In 2015, an estimated 150,000 adults in King County reported storing a firearm unlocked. In Seattle, 250 stolen guns were reported in 2017, according to the Seattle Police Department.
In 2013, Seattle became the first American city to fund and conduct research into gun violence as a public health issue, gun violence prevention, and gun safety. The City Council-funded research led to a report from The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center that established that safe storage of guns decreased the risk of accidental firearm injuries and suicides by 73 percent.
In 2015, the City Council passed legislation to establish a tax on gun and ammunition sales to fund gun violence prevention research. By the end of 2018, with nearly $200,000 in revenue from this tax, the City will have invested a total of $750,000 in Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center’s work to help individuals with firearm injuries.
The legislation will take effect 180 days after the Mayor signs it into law. This allows for rulemaking, education and awareness efforts, and individual compliance. The Chief of Police will be given one year from the legislation’s signing to conduct a survey on initial levels of compliance. The legislation also instructs the City Auditor to assess periodically the legislation’s impacts on gun injuries and deaths in Seattle.
Through the LOK-IT-UP program, Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to work with law enforcement and private retailers to provide discounts on and encourage the use of lockboxes and other safe storage equipment. For information about our public education materials and retail discounts, visit www.lokitup.org.
The legislation as transmitted can be found here.