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Council Committee Approves Proposal Requiring Residents To Securely Store Guns

Speaker 1: 00:00 A new gun safety proposal from the San Diego City Attorney's office is moving to the full city council. It was approved by the public safety committee this morning on a two to one vote. The Safe Storage of firearms ordinances aimed at reducing the number of suicides and accidental shootings in the home. It would require that department of Justice approved safety devices, which are included with gun sales in California be used in the home. Joining us is San Diego city attorney Mara Elliot, and welcome to the program. Thank you. What kinds of safety devices does this ordinance mandate and how would they be used? It would mandate either the use of it trigger lock or have a safe, and as you just mentioned, since 2002 when one would purchase a new firearm in the state of California, you're required to, you get with it, the firearm lock anyway. So what we're requiring is that it actually be used because the data supports that using safe storage mechanisms reduces harm to our children, reduces harms to our communities. Speaker 1: 01:05 These safety precautions would be required in the home. So how would they be enforced by the city? Well, this is a proactive educational effort and I think there might possibly be a misconception that law enforcement will be knocking on doors and checking homes to make sure that people are properly storing their firearms and that is not the case. We equate this to what happened with seatbelts back in the 1980s when the regulations took effect and very few people about 25% we're actually using seat belts back then but with the educational effort in the laws in place, people became cognizant of the need to use the safety device and now most people use seat belts but nobody was being pulled over because they didn't have a seatbelt on. They were being pulled over for something else, like they were speeding or breaking a traffic law. So this is somewhat similar in that officers are not going to knock on doors to check. Speaker 1: 02:02 What they will be doing is there are jobs which is responding to crimes that happen at home and if they observe that there is a firearm that has not been properly secured under the local ordinance, then it is a misdemeanor and we'd have prosecutorial discretion to determine how we wanted to deal with that. Would there be a fine, there could be a fine of up to a thousand dollars. Now what prompted you to propose this ordinance? We are a leader here in the city of San Diego, not just locally but nationally when it comes to utilizing California's red flag laws, which are referred to as gun violence restraining orders. And we've taught, uh, law enforcement throughout the state as well as nationally on how to use them. This seemed like the next logical solution in impacting what we're seeing as a growing problem here, even in San Diego, which is simple if you're going to have firearms, secure them in your home so that people who are not authorized users or shouldn't be having access to the firearms will not be able to do so. Speaker 1: 03:03 So requiring the use of a safe or a trigger lock is very impactful and it doesn't impact somebody's ability to quickly access a firearm. A trigger lock for instance, can take two to four seconds to unlock. And there are many mechanisms that the department of Justice has covered on their website that indicates what you can use, whether you want to use your thumb to open them up or you want to put a code on it. So there's a lot of discretion that would rest with a firearm owner, but it's definitely needed because we were able to address, um, potential violence. But we want to, we want to take it home and we've had some horrible incidents even in San Diego county that could have been prevented had the firearms been secured. I was going to ask you, do you have statistics on how many accidental shootings there are in San Diego per year? Speaker 1: 03:54 We don't have statistics on accidental shootings, but what we do have are some very compelling statistics on the number of suicides that are conducted by use of a firearm. Firearms are very effective. So most of the time if you're going to use a firearm, you're going to be successful. But using something else to commit suicide, not so much about 10% of those are successful. So we've studied the data and we have a lot of information that accompanied the measure that we brought to the public safety and livable neighborhoods committee this morning that really drills down on the data. This is not something we were lightly pursuing. We wanted to look at the numbers and make sure that this is a good law for the city of San Diego. So we're joining 15 other municipalities throughout the state of California that have enacted similar laws because although there is the California child access prevention law on the books, unfortunately it's punitive and it kicks in after a tragedy has happened. Speaker 1: 04:52 But like seatbelt laws, we want to make sure that people are cognizant of their responsibilities and they're doing things right at the beginning. Can you explain to us how the use of a lockbox or a trigger lock would decrease the number of suicides? Yes. Um, so what we found in particular and as a mother of two boys, one of whom is a teenager, teenagers in particular, are very impulsive and when they make a decision to kill themselves, it happens within a matter of minutes. So that was one of the reasons that we were concerned. But if they have to slow down and unlock the gun, it requires them to think before they act. Now, San Diego County gun owners pack executive director Michael Shorts, told 10 News that this ordinance would take the control away from the gun owner. Speaker 2: 05:39 So whether or not you have a child, maybe you're a single woman who lives at home and now she's taking away a number of choices that a single woman has to be able to defend herself in her own home. Speaker 1: 05:50 What's your response to that concern? I don't believe he understands what we're trying to achieve with the local ordinance. Nobody's going to lose their access to firearms. In fact, as I explained, when you buy a firearm at least beginning in 2002 to now, it comes with the trigger lock or a locking device so that it's securely stored. An authorized user of a gun is not inhibited at all. So if they have it in their controller on their person, the law does not apply. Our concern is unintended firearms that can be accessed by people like children or those who have mental issues or um, dementia or Alzheimer's, Ptsd. Those folks probably are not authorized and we want to make sure only authorized people are having access to firearms. What's the next step for this ordinance? The next step will be to go to the full city council and I'll again present the safe storage, want this time to the entire body. I suspect we'll have a more robust discussion at that point and we believe we'll have a lot of the same individuals who testified this morning we had people from the medical community. I'm from our school system speaking to it, um, veterans, um, safety groups. So I suspect we will again see a lot of support for a common sense measures such as this. I've been speaking with San Diego city, attorney Mora Elliot, and thank you so much. Thank you.

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The San Diego City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee voted 2-1 Wednesday to send a proposed ordinance, which would require gun owners to store guns in a locked container or disable them with a trigger lock when not in use, to the full council without a recommendation.
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