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Safe Storage Saves Lives

Any time a leader is willing to step forward and propose responsible firearm laws, we should applaud the effort. Especially when that policy, if implemented correctly—can reduce violence and save lives. The version of Dangerous Access Prevention introduced by Mayor Jenny Durkan is critical to incentivizing secure firearm storage, and will ideally spur additional action in other municipalities, and in our state and federal governments. Keeping guns out of dangerous hands, like children, people prohibited for violent felonies and domestic violence prohibited purchasers, children, and those in crisis, is a critical part of addressing gun violence in our country.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility is working to get I-1639, Safe Schools, Safe Communities, on the November ballot in Washington. A key component of the policy is a similar access provision, which would hold gun owners accountable if a child or other prohibited person accesses and uses an unsafely stored firearm to cause harm.

Dangerous Access Prevention is built upon successful policies in Florida, California and 28 other states, which have helped keep guns out of the wrong hands.  States with access prevention laws in place for at least one year saw a 23 percent drop in unintentional firearm deaths among youth younger than 15.

In school shootings over the last 20 years, where the source of the gun could be determined, more than 80 percent of shooters brought them from their own homes or from the homes of friends or relatives. What’s more, 7 in 10 of these shooters were under 18 – which means that dozens of children (who are prohibited from possessing guns) had access to guns.

In Washington, unsecured guns taken from the home have been at the heart of some of the most tragic gun violence incidents, including the 2017 Freeman High School shooting where a 15-year-old boy took a semi-automatic rifle and handgun from his home and killed one young man; the 2016 Burlington mall shooting, which was committed by a young man court ordered not to possess firearms after a domestic violence case; and the 2015 shooting where a 15-year-old boy shot five of his classmates at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

We have to take action around access prevention NOW so this list doesn’t keep growing. We hear from so many people who have tragic experiences because a gun was not securely stored. They consider themselves responsible gun owners. They follow the law. If the law required secure storage and helped educate people about best practices and reducing the risk of unsecure firearms in their home, people would listen. Behavior would change. Lives would be saved.

Leaders closest to their communities know what is needed to help reduce gun violence. Thank you to the City of Seattle under the leadership of Mayor Durkan for continuing to lead on reducing gun violence.

Renée Hopkins, CEO for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Renée oversees the development and execution of the Alliance’s strategic plan for its 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), and electoral activities.