Edmonds City Council unanimously takes stand supporting state gun safe storage bill

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Legislation in the Washington State House of Representatives that would require safe storage of firearms received a strong and unanimous endorsement from the Edmonds City Council during its Tuesday night meeting.

The 5-0 advisory vote (Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Diane Buckshnis were absent) supporting House Bill 1122 came after several Edmonds residents testified during the public comment period in support of the council resolution, which was sponsored by Councilmember Mike Nelson.

“I think it’s a very small thing to ask people who own guns, to store their guns safely,” said Edmonds resident Janet Smith. Passing the resolution “is something that the city should do as a way of both supporting the measures that are going to be up for debate in the state Legislature and sending a message to other cities that Edmonds believes in common sense safety,” she added

Lynn Carpenter, an Edmonds resident who leads the Snohomish County League of Women Voters, noted the league has had a position supporting gun safety since 1994 and is advocating for HB 1122.

“I’m so thrilled that my city council is taking a look at this because I think the more that people hear about it and it seems to make sense, the better off we’ll be,” she said.

Councilmember Mike Nelson

HB 1122 would make gun owners criminally liable if they fail to secure a firearm and the weapon is used by a “prohibited person” to cause injury or death. In particular, the measure is aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of children and teens, Nelson said, citing statistics that in Washington state, a child under the age of 14 is killed by a gun every 8 days and that 90 percent of fatal firearms incidents involving children occurred in the home.

“The practices of keeping firearms locked and unloaded and storing ammunition in a locked location separate from firearms serves as a protective measure that reduces the unintentional injury and suicide in homes with children where guns are stored,” Nelson said.

Reducing the incidence of suicide is a key issue, Nelson said, noting that “compulsivity increases risk and one-quarter of suicides are decided within five minutes; 70 percent are decided within an hour.”

Joining Nelson to vote in favor of the resolution were Councilmembers Kristiana Johnson, Dave Teitzel and Neil Tibbott and Council President Tom Mesaros.

Teitzel shared that he lost a family member to gun violence. “About 30 years ago my younger brother was going through a rough emotional period and he took my dad’s .22 hunting rifle and killed himself with it,” Teitzel said. “The rifle had no trigger lock on it, it was not in a gun safe, and I’d like to think that had it been secured properly and appropriately that he would be here with us today and living a good, healthy, productive life.”

Added Teitzel: “I certainly support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms but that should be done in a responsible manner and if we can encourage that to happen through the passage of this resolution, I’m in support of that.”

Council President Tom Mesaros agreed. “Responsible ownership of firearms is a crucial component of the Second Amendment,” Mesaros said. “Being responsible is the key element there.”

Nelson said he hopes that the resolution will encourage other Snohomish County cities to follow Edmonds’ lead and pass similar measures that will send a message to lawmakers Olympia.

House Bill 1122, titled “Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms.” is co-sponsored by 21st District Reps. Strom Peterson and Lillian Ortiz-Self and 32nd District Reps. Cindy Ryu and Ruth Kagi, all of whom represent parts of Edmonds. You can read the complete council resolution here.

The council also agreed in principal with a second gun safety measure proposed by Nelson Tuesday night — a City of Edmonds ordinance requiring that gun owners report lost or stolen firearms to local law enforcement. Under the proposed ordinance, City of Edmonds gun owners must report a description of the firearm and its serial number to police within 24 hours after discovering the weapon was lost or stolen. Failure to do so would result in a civil infraction carrying a $500 fine.

Nelson cited statistics from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showing that in one year, Washington state had 5,053 guns reported stolen or lost, and many of those incidents were not reported. “Lost or stolen guns are frequently used in the commission of crimes,” said Nelson, a former sheriff’s deputy. “Every time a gun is stolen, an armed criminal is created.”

While in support of the measure, the council agreed to wait until next Tuesday to take a vote, after City Attorney Jeff Taraday said he wanted to research some aspects of it prior to final passage.

The council also:

– Received an update on Alliance for Housing Affordability, which was created in 2013 through an interlocal agreement with Edmonds, 12 other cities, Snohomish County and the Housing Authority of Snohomish County to increase the supply of affordable housing through interjurisdictional collaboration. Councilmembers agreed to place on next week’s consent agenda approval of Edmonds’ contribution of $3,841 to the support work of the alliance.

– Heard a presentation of revisions to the City of Edmonds Commute Trip Reduction Plan and agreed to place on next week’s consent agenda an ordinance aimed at addressing automobile-related pollution and traffic congestion.

– Received a report on bids received for a project to replace a degraded section of sewer pipe located under Highway 99 near the 220th Street Southwest Starbucks, and moved to the consent agenda an allocation of $147,000 to complete the work.

– Also moved to next week’s consent agenda two police department proposals: One to declare certain property items as surplus, and the other that adopted into Edmonds City Code a state law (RCW 9A.44.132) regarding failure to register as a sex offender or kidnapping offender.

– Approved the appointment of Laura Braithwaite Otto to the Edmonds Sister City Commission.

— By Teresa Wippel

3 COMMENTS

  1. Good Job to my fellow Council Member Mike Nelson for getting the gun safety, storage, tracking of illegal gun – either loss or stolen and loss gun, pentalities and related issues on the 2/14/17 agenda.

    We actually started working on this project in October of last year as I was the naive Council Member asking Mike to help me understand. Wow – were my eyes opened! We have a myriad of information regarding gun use, deaths by sectors and age groups, stolen guns and more. Working with Mike on this issue was a collobrative process – but it was to my benefit as I learned a lot from him.

    I am really proud of the outcome and “Thank-you Council for voting to move this forward” which also supports House Bill 1122.

    Kudos again to Mr. Nelson!

  2. Very pleased our City Council is taking a public stand and supporting common sense gun legislation. Hopefully other cities will follow suit. And so proud that our State Reps Strom Peterson and Lillian Ortiz-Self, Cindy Ryu and Ruth Kagi, co-sponsored HB 1122. Thank you.

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