Edmonds City Council President Mike Nelson announced Tuesday that this week he will be proposing City of Edmonds legislation to require that gun owners securely store firearms.
“Gun violence is killing too many of our kids today,” Nelson said in a Tuesday morning news conference next to the new Frances Anderson Center play structure. “Children and unsecured guns are a dangerous and deadly mix. Safe storage of guns has been shown to reduce suicides, accidental deaths, and the epidemic of stolen firearms that are later used to commit crimes. Proper storage should be an expectation of gun owners.”
Nelson’s proposal would require gun owners to lock up their guns when not in use. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $10,000 and forfeiture of the firearms.
“It’s an easy thing to do,” remarked Nelson, who brought sample lock boxes to help make his point. “These lockboxes are not some prop — they are mine. I’m a gun owner, and I keep my firearms locked up. These boxes keep my guns out of the hands of my children, but they’re right there for me when I want them.”
To illustrate, Nelson locked and opened one of the boxes. It took only a few seconds, about the same time it would take to pull a handgun out of a bedroom drawer.
Nelson went on to say that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens who want to do the right thing, but that in the absence of a safe storage law it’s easy to let this common-sense safety practice slip.
“Education is a key component of my proposal,” he went on. “We need to get the word out to gun owners so they understand what the law is, and why safe storage is so critical to reducing gun violence, protecting our kids, and safeguarding our community.”
Nelson was joined by Wendy Burchill from the Snohomish Health District, who stressed the importance of safe storage in stemming the rising tide of suicides in our area.
“A 2016 survey of Snohomish County 12th graders revealed that a staggering 23 percent had considered suicide in the past year,” Burchill reported. “This is up from 18 percent in 2014. Youths with access to firearms are three times more likely to die from suicide than youths without access. They get them from their home or that of a friend or relative where the firearms are left unsecured. Had the guns had been properly stored, these deaths would have been prevented. If we want to stem the rise of youth suicide, we need to securely store guns in our community.”
Edmonds’ Heather Damron of Moms Demand Action also spoke in support of Nelson’s proposal.
“Gun violence is killing increasing numbers of our kids today,” she said. “In the U.S., 1.7 million kids live in a household with a least one unlocked, loaded gun. Proper storage should be an expectation of gun owners.”
“On Friday we will turn in over 360,000 signatures to get I-1639 on November ballot. A key component of this initiative is safe storage and unauthorized access prevention,” she said. “States with unauthorized access prevention laws in place for one year have seen a 23% drop in unintentional firearm deaths among kids younger than 15. Mike Nelson’s proposal is critical to incentivizing secure firearm storage. Most gun owners follow the law. If the law mandated safe storage, many lives would be saved.”
Nelson concluded: “This (legislation) will keep stolen guns out of the hands of criminals, reduce accidental shootings by children, and reduce risk of suicide,” he said. “Simply stated, safe storage saves lives.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel