New San Diego gun safety law goes into effect

SAN DIEGO -- An ordinance will go into effect in San Diego Thursday requiring gun owners to store their weapons in a locked container or disable them with a trigger lock when not in use.

City Attorney Mara Elliott proposed the ordinance in June with the intention of reducing accidental shootings, children's access to guns, and suicides. According to Elliott, 46% of gun owners in the U.S. who have children do not secure their guns and 73% of youngsters aged 9 and under know where their parents keep their weapons.

Since 2002, the state has mandated that all guns sold in California have an accompanying trigger lock approved by the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Firearms. Elliott said the ordinance is a "common-sense approach" to building on current state requirements.

"Safe storage is proven to prevent tragedies and save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of minors, unauthorized users, and individuals going through personal crises that could result in them harming themselves or others," Elliott said. "We all are safer when this law is followed."

The San Diego City Council approved the ordinance in July despite opposition from local gun rights groups like the California Rifle and Pistol Association and the San Diego County Gun Owners political action committee, who said it infringes on residents' Second Amendment rights, particularly for gun owners who do not have children living with them.

Under current state law, gun owners are required to keep firearms in a secure container or disabled with a device like a trigger lock only if they live with a person who cannot legally have a weapon under state or federal law.

Opponents also argued the ordinance is unenforceable and that locking a gun in a safe would make it difficult to access and use in a moment of self- defense.

According to Elliott, the San Diego Police Department will enforce the law by finding improperly stored guns in a home during a visit for another reason such as a domestic disturbance.

When the council first considered the ordinance, she compared it to the state's 1986 law requiring drivers to wear a seatbelt; at that time, highway patrol officers could only cite drivers for not wearing a seatbelt during a traffic stop for another infraction.

Residents who own a gun without a trigger lock can receive one for free through the city's It's Up to Us San Diego program.

Residents can also surrender unwanted guns to the San Diego Police Department. Gun owners are asked to call their nearest SDPD station before doing so and leave the gun outside when entering the station.

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