Gun owners in Mountain View will soon be required to store their firearms safely under a new citywide ordinance.
In a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Mountain View City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance setting out how firearms should be stored when unattended in homes or vehicles.
The measure comes more than two years after the council agreed to draw up a gun safety policy following the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July 2019 that killed three people and injured 17 others . Since then, the council has been exploring options to improve gun safety in the city, according to a staff report.
In January 2020, the council explored several other gun regulation policies, including banning people from selling guns outside homes or imposing location-based restrictions on the place where guns can be sold, which he chose not to pursue. Council agreed to draft an ordinance prohibiting possession of firearms on all city property, which passed in April 2021. And in June 2021, council added drafting an ordinance on the safe storage of firearms at his workbench, according to a staff report. .
The policy aims to improve public safety by reducing the risk of firearm-related death and injury, whether accidental or intentional.
Studies show that storing unloaded firearms safely can reduce the risk of suicide. Research also indicates that the vast majority of firearms used in youth suicides, unintentional shootings involving youths, or school shootings perpetrated by minors come from the home of the minor or the homes of relatives or friends, according to staff.
Other local communities, including Sunnyvale, Los Altos, San Jose, Palo Alto, Morgan Hill and unincorporated Santa Clara County, already require the safe storage of firearms in residences.
In California, it is illegal to store firearms in a manner in which a child is “likely” to gain access to them without permission, but the law does not provide further guidance on what exactly constitutes safe storage. firearms. Mountain View’s ordinance is intended to make it clear to residents what constitutes safe storage: The firearm must be in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock, according to the city.
Under the new order, all firearms in residences must be stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock unless they are carried or nearby and under someone’s control.
In unattended vehicles, firearms must be stored in a locked trunk or container. For vehicles with four wheels and no box, weapons must be in a locked container attached to the vehicle and out of sight. For vehicles with less than four wheels and without trunk, it must be kept in a locked container and permanently attached to the vehicle. Firearms cannot be stored overnight in an unattended vehicle.
Violations of the ordinance will be considered misdemeanors once the law comes into force.
In terms of law enforcement, Mountain View police will not proactively check to see if people are complying with the order, but they will have the discretion to cite or arrest anyone found in violation, whether it results from contact with that person for another legitimate reason, if someone reports a violation or if an incident occurs.
In a public comment, Susie MacLean, board member of Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE), a nonprofit organization empowering the medical community to address gun violence, said only 35 approximately % of gun owners in California store all firearms in the safest way – locked and unloaded.
“By passing this ordinance and continuing a public education effort to improve safe storage, we can save lives,” she said.
A woman who identified herself only as Karen said she had lost a child to gun violence and urged the city council to pass the Mountain View Safe Gun Storage Ordinance “to prevent another family to suffer the loss of a loved one”.
Lisa Henry, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a resident of Mountain View, said the ordinance was urgently needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, there has been a 43% increase in accidental deaths of young children and a 9% increase in teenage suicides.
Of the eight people who spoke publicly about the order, only one did not fully support it. Charles Prael, who identified himself as a member of the South Bay shooting community and a resident of Mountain View, said he was concerned about the ordinance’s impact on the defensive use of firearms. fire and a case before the United States Supreme Court that could open the city up to litigation. He recommended the city meet with gun rights organizations to “see if there is a way to ensure that the intent of the ordinance meets the letter of the law and the U.S. Constitution.” .
Assistant City Attorney Megan Marevich said the firearms safe storage ordinances have survived constitutional challenges and she is not concerned that Mountain View’s ordinance will be overturned by a constitutional challenge.
Council members expressed support for the ordinance, and several added that they hoped to push for new gun safety legislation in the future.
“I think we need to keep pushing on every front we can… the alternative is unthinkable. I hope the council will continue to create a wall of safety around our communities for young people and for all members of our community,” said board member Sally Lieber.
“We have all been devastated for many, many years with report after report after report of accidental shootings that have occurred with unsecured firearms and mass shootings, and this is truly a national tragedy,” Pat said. Showalter, board member. “Keeping these weapons out of harm’s way will be effective, at least here, and that’s what we have control over.”
Vice Mayor Alison Hicks has opened up about how she lost a friend in college to an improperly stowed gun. “I will be thinking of Leo when I vote for this motion,” she said. “I’m especially looking forward to educating the public about this. That’s what would have saved my friend Leo.”
“I hope that in the years to come we can continue to work on this issue and promote gun safety,” said board member Margaret Abe-Koga. “I think there is more work to do.”