Find Posts By Topic

After NRA Fails to Block Progress on Preventing Gun Violence in Seattle, Mayor Durkan’s Responsible Storage Gun Safety Law Goes Into Effect Wednesday

Seattle (February 12, 2019) – After a failed attempt by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to block progress in Seattle in fighting gun violence, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s responsible storage gun safety law will go into effect tomorrow, Wednesday, February 13.

The law, which was unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council in July, will reduce gun violence and help protect Seattle communities by requiring the responsible storage of firearms unless carried by or under the control of an owner or lawfully authorized user.

Following the City Council’s passage of the law, Everytown for Gun Safety announced that Everytown’s Litigation Team, along with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, will represent the City of Seattle on a pro bono basis against any resulting litigation.

In October, a King County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by NRA which attempted to block the necessary and commonsense law.

“We are taking another important step to save lives. Unsecured, unsafely stored firearms are more likely to be stolen, used in a suicide, accessed by children and teens, and result in tragic accidents. Responsible storage is a commonsense way to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands,” said Mayor Durkan. “I’m grateful to City Attorney Holmes, Councilmember González, and Chief Best for their leadership on this critical law. And I especially would like to thank our partners at Everytown for Gun Safety for their pro-bono work to get that irresponsible and ill-conceived NRA lawsuit thrown out.”

“This law will make it harder for criminals to access firearms,” said Chief of Police Carmen Best. “Unsecured guns are not only an easy target for thieves, they are very dangerous for children. Safe storage is a common sense measure to reduce crime and increase the safety of our homes and neighborhoods.”

The responsible storage law 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. In September 2018, Mayor Durkan and Seattle Chief of Police Carmen Best announced new guidelines for what qualifies as responsibly storing guns in Seattle, including defining a lawful “locked container.” The proposed rules were then subject to a 60-day comment period.

“Responsible gun owners already store their guns locked, unloaded, and out of reach of children. We’ve allocated the resources to educate those who don’t properly store their guns, so we can decrease gun-related accidents, prevent youth suicide, and keep guns out of the hands of those with no right to own one,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González (Citywide, Position 9).

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “Safe storage of firearms is so eminently reasonable that even the NRA’s Gun Safety Rulebook advises that their members ‘store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.’ I hope gun owners across Seattle agree and will choose to responsibly safeguard their firearms while not kept in their possession.”

In King County, 150,000 gun owners reported leaving their firearms unlocked in their homes. In Seattle, according to the Seattle Police Department, while more than 3,100 firearms were taken into custody between 2015 and 2017, only 250 guns were reported stolen in 2017.

The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center found that the responsible storage of guns decreased the risk of accidental firearm injuries and suicides to youth by 73 percent, and that number is further reduced to 78 percent when both guns and ammunition are locked up.

In December, Mayor Durkan joined Harborview and Seattle Children’s Hospital to participate in a responsible storage container giveaway. The event distributed 168 lock boxes, 27 trigger locks and 512 cable locks to help ensure individual compliance.

As part of the King County Gun Violence Prevention Initiative the City and County continue to take a public health approach to reducing gun violence. The “LOK-IT-UP” enterprise is part of their partnership which promotes responsible storage and offers discounts to purchase responsible storage devices.

To protect communities, the penalties established by the measure fall under three categories:

  • Basic requirement to store: Up to $500 fine (or community service) for failure by any person to store or keep any firearm in any premises in a locked container.
  • Accessed by prohibited person: Up to $1,000 fine (or community service) if the firearm is obtained by youth, prohibited purchaser or an “at-risk person” (expressing suicidal or harmful ideation).
  • Harm done by prohibited person: Up to $10,000 fine per victim if prohibited person uses the firearm to injure, kill, or commit a crime.