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Seattle could fine gun owners up to $10k for not locking firearms at home

Proper storage of firearms and ammunition is vital to ensuring the safety of Minot’s Airmen and their families. Unloaded firearms should be stored in a lockable gun cabinet, safe or locked vault. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Thomas Dow)
June 01, 2018

On Thursday, the mayor of Seattle revealed a new proposal that could fine gun owners anywhere from $500 up to $10,000 for not keeping their guns under lock and key, depending on the severity of the situation.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposal would charge a civil infraction if a minor or “at-risk” person accesses a weapon that wasn’t properly secured, the Seattle Times reported.

Under the mayor’s proposal, a storage infraction could impose a fine of up to $500, and a fine of up to $1,000 for an access-prevention infraction could be imposed.

The fine could be up to $10,000 in the case of a minor, at-risk person or unauthorized user obtaining an unlocked gun and using it to hurt someone or commit a crime.

The proposal, which is on its way to city council, would be relevant to guns that are stored off of a person, not those carried on a person.

It would be a civil infraction if a gun owner knows or should know that someone could access the gun but doesn’t prevent it from happening.

In a statement, Durkan said: “The level of gun violence in our communities is not normal, and we can never think it is inevitable. We — especially our children — should not have to live like this. With Congress in the grip of the D.C. gun lobby and too many state legislatures failing to act, our cities must lead the way — and we must all continue to demand action that saves lives.”

Durkan, along with Councilmember M. Lorena González, developed the legislation.

The mayor said that a new study on gun storage in Washington state, published by the American Journal of Public Health, reported that only 36 percent of respondents who reported a firearm at home said they stored it locked and unloaded.

 

In regards to lawsuits, the new infractions would be considered initial evidence of negligence.

Seattle legislation, which Durkan used to support her case, estimated 150,000 adults reported keeping firearms unlocked in their homes in King County in 2015, and at least 250 guns were reported stolen in Seattle in 2017.

The proposed legislation states: “Requiring guns to be safely locked when not carried or in the control of a person in no way violates an individual’s Second Amendment rights or Washington state law.”

If charged, under the new proposal, the individual would have 15 days to contest it in Seattle Municipal Court and then appeal rulings to state Superior Court.