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San Diego City Council approves stricter gun-storage rules

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. (Tech. Sgt. Thomas Dow/U.S. Air Force)

The San Diego City Council voted 7-2 last Tuesday to give final approval to a new gun-storage ordinance aimed at preventing accidental shootings and other firearm-related injuries and deaths.

The Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance, which was crafted and introduced by City Attorney Mara Elliott, will require all guns in a residence be stored in a locked container, or disabled by a trigger lock, unless they are being carried by or are under control of the owner.

Proponents of the law say it will keep guns out of the wrong hands, including curious children, thieves and those in the throes of suicidal thoughts, while opponents say the law infringes on the Second Amendment and restricts lawful gun owners from quickly and effectively defending themselves.

“Our families will be safer once this law is on the books,” Elliott said in a statement. “It is my hope that this ordinance will prevent tragedies and save lives by reminding gun owners to safely store their firearms.”

report by Elliott’s staff in May said the ordinance “does not substantially burden the right or ability of owners to use firearms for self-defense in the home.”

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Michael Schwartz, executive director of the political action committee San Diego County Gun Owners, called the law “unenforceable and unconstitutional” in a statement in which he labeled Elliot an “anti-Second Amendment politician who wants to seize guns.”

“The only way to enforce this would be to send police officers door to door,” Schwartz said. “This is scary and it should rightly make everyone nervous.”

According to Elliott, the San Diego Police Department will look for violations of the law when responding to homes for other reasons, such as a domestic disturbance.

Tuesday’s vote was the second, as required by the city charter, after the City Council tentatively approved it 6-2 earlier this month. Councilmen Chris Cate and Scott Sherman, the body’s two Republicans, voted against the ordinance both times. Mark Kersey, an independent who was absent for the first vote, joined the council’s six Democrats in favor of adopting the ordinance, arguing both sides of the debate had merit.

Mari Kleven, a volunteer with the group San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, said in a statement that her group was “grateful for those seven council members who stood with San Diego families today to stop preventable gun violence and gun theft.”

A spokeswoman for the City Attorney’s Office said Mayor Kevin Faulconer will receive the ordinance within 48 hours, then must sign or veto it within 10 days.

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© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune