City Council Committee Advances Mayor Durkan’s Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence

Legislation Would Increase Civil Penalties and Legal Responsibility for Individuals Who Fail to Safely Store Their Firearms

Seattle (June 27) – The Seattle City Council’s Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education Committee advanced Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s legislation to require safe storage of firearms unless carried by or under the control of an owner or lawfully authorized user. The legislation increases civil penalties and legal responsibility for failure to report unsecured firearms that are lost, stolen, or improperly used by an unauthorized user. The legislation, which will be considered by the full City Council in the coming weeks, was developed in collaboration with Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide), and based on input from stakeholders including gun owners, safety advocates, community members, public health experts, and others.

“The level of gun violence in our communities is just not normal. While we can’t prevent every gun tragedy, we can act to save lives,” said Mayor Durkan. “We know that unsecured, unsafely stored guns help fuel this crisis of violence because they are more likely to cause tragic accidents, fall into the wrong hands, or be used in suicides. Requiring that gun owners safely store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live.”

“This legislation is a modest action requiring gun owners to safely store their firearms, so they don’t get into the hands of our children. Responsible gun owners already lock up their firearms. This legislation identifies resources and educational tools to encourage more gun owners to do the same for one purpose – to prevent the loss of lives,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).

A recent University of Washington study found that nearly two in three gun-owning households in Washington State do not safely store their firearms.

Nearly 1,300 children die from gunshot wounds each year. In 2015, an estimated 150,000 adults in King County reported storing a firearm unlocked. In Seattle, 250 stolen guns were reported in 2017, according to the Seattle Police Department.
In 2013, Seattle became the first American city to fund and conduct research into gun violence as a public health issue, gun violence prevention, and gun safety. The City Council-funded research led to a report from The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center that established that safe storage of guns decreased the risk of accidental firearm injuries and suicides by 73 percent.

In 2015, the City Council passed legislation to establish a tax on gun and ammunition sales to fund gun violence prevention research. By the end of 2018, with nearly $200,000 in revenue from this tax, the City will have invested a total of $750,000 in Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center’s work to help individuals with firearm injuries.

The legislation will take effect 180 days after the Mayor signs it into law. This allows for rulemaking, education and awareness efforts, and individual compliance. The Chief of Police will be given one year from the legislation’s signing to conduct a survey on initial levels of compliance. The legislation also instructs the City Auditor to assess periodically the legislation’s impacts on gun injuries and deaths in Seattle.

Through the LOK-IT-UP program, Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to work with law enforcement and private retailers to provide discounts on and encourage the use of lockboxes and other safe storage equipment. For information about our public education materials and retail discounts, visit www.lokitup.org.

The legislation as transmitted can be found here.

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