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Gun owners could face mandatory training in CA city

People at a gun range. (MaxPixel/Released)

Gun owners in Alameda might be required to receive mandatory training to use their weapons.

That’s one of the rules the City Council will consider Tuesday when it reviews a proposed gun restriction ordinance, just a week after a man walked into his workplace at a Milwaukee brewery and shot dead five people before killing himself.

The mandatory training could include lessons about how firearms can make domestic violence even more dangerous and how someone in a mental health crisis or struggling with substance abuse may be more likely to contemplate suicide if a firearm is nearby.

The proposed ordinance also would require gun owners to store their firearms at home inside a locked container or have them disabled with a trigger lock. In addition, the ordinance would require all gun sales to be videotaped.

“These proposals are a great start in ensuring that legally owned firearms are secured from minors, criminals and people in crisis,” Vice Mayor John Knox White said Friday. “The proposals also provide law enforcement with a new tool to ensure gun sales in Alameda meet all legal requirements.”

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Violators could face fines or criminal prosecution.

There’s only one store in town that sells firearms: Big 5 Sporting Goods at Alameda South Shore Center. The weapons are displayed behind the sales counter.

Councilman Tony Daysog said he was disappointed the proposed ordinance doesn’t mandate that guns within a store be placed away from other merchandise.

“The issue is that, when Big 5 at the South Shore shopping center displays rows and rows of firearms right next to the check-out area in clear view by people of all ages, it sends the wrong message that the brute force that guns represent is normal, or as normal as soccer balls, tennis rackets and running shoes at Big 5,” Daysog said Friday. “Even if Big 5 isn’t selling military assault-style weapons, it’s the normalization of the brute force of guns that worries me.”

A representative for the sporting goods retailer, headquartered in El Segundo in Southern California, was not immediately available for comment.

There are 38 licensed federal firearms dealers in Alameda County, according to a 2018 list — the latest — from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Livermore has the highest number at 11.

Currently, California law requires that firearms be stored inside a locked container or in a location that a reasonable person would believe to be secure, which safety advocates say is too vague.

“The law does not dictate what responsible storage is, and require that gun owners abide by it,” Allison Anderman, senior counsel with the San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center, said in a Feb. 20 letter to the council. “A safe storage law would require that gun owners keep their guns in locked containers or secured with trigger locks; this is an unambiguous, preventative measure with an objective standard.”

Deputy City Attorney Montague Hung said local jurisdictions have the option to draft ordinances that are stricter than other gun laws.

The council also is to consider giving an individual whose gun is lost or stolen as a result of violating safe storage requirements a break if they report it to police within 24 hours. State law requires the missing firearm to be reported within five days.

Encouraging victims to report the loss sooner could help law enforcement track and more quickly recover the firearm, while also helping victims avoid any penalties for not meeting the state deadline, according to Hung.

The council will meet 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.

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© 2020 the Contra Costa Times