‘Safe storage saves lives’: Councilmember Mike Nelson proposing firearms storage mandate for Edmonds

Edmonds City Council President Mike Nelson announcing his proposal to submit city legislation that would mandate safe storage of firearms.

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 spoke in favor of Nelson’s proposal.

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.”

Last to speak was Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, sponsor of the current Initiative 1639 campaign to require certain firearms safety measures in Washington State.

Mike Nelson shows off one of his personal lock boxes where he secures his own guns. “I’m a gun owner, and I keep my firearms locked up,” he said. “These boxes keep my guns out of the hands of my children, but they’re right there for me when I want them.”

“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

  1. He can “propose” all he wants. The fact is that Washington State law preempts any local ordinance and this wouldn’t stand up in court. This is just virtue signalling and would result in huge legal bills for the city if this is passed and challenged.

  2. Yes. Safe storage of guns saves lives. It eould be diffocult to prove that laws mandating safe storage of firearms save lives. Would home inspection be used to police this? Maybe kids would be taken away from parents who have a gun in a drawer should an authority be made aware of it. A lady just laid on the tracks. Does the law prohibit school shooters from knowing the box combination or having a gun box of their own with a combination or their own? This idea is naive.

  3. You can’t legislation safety laws in one’s home. More government interference is not the answer!. Common sense plays a major roll.

  4. Mr. Nelson’s proposal emphasized education of the public as well as “incentivizing” responsible gun storage. The proposed legislation would raise awareness of the issue as a step toward the common sense of voluntary compliance.
    Mr. Nelson in no way implied that the plan would end all suicide, nor did he suggest home inspections. We need reasoned discussions about the complex issues around gun safety, not inflammatory exaggerations.

    1. The only inflammatory exaggerations here are the ones in the original article. The fact of the matter is that such an ordinance would be illegal under state law and completely unenforceable. Below is a copy/paste from the Revised Code of Washington:

      “RCW 9.41.290
      State preemption.
      The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. “

  5. What about educating kids on how to handle guns safely instead of making them some mystical thing? The NRA has a great program – Eddie the Eagle – geared for Pre-K to 4th grade. Like stop, drop and roll if you are on fire, the steps of this program are simple – STOP, Don’t touch, Leave the area, tell an adult. It’s gun safety, not gun promotion.

    When our nephew was in grade school we took him to the gun range and showed him with a milk carton filled with colored water the power of a shotgun blast. It made an impact beyond words. A gun is not a toy, it’s a tool that can save lives and defend you from mortal harm.

    Education on the safe handling of firearms needs to be part of this discussion. Many promote the importance of sex education in our schools, why not gun safety education? Both have the potential for life altering consequences. Just saying.

    1. Forgot to add, that target shooting can also be an enjoyable activity. I also wanted to encourage anyone interested in learning about US History and improving marksmanship skills to consider attending a Project Appleseed Shoot.

  6. Are we just a vocal minority? I like to think I am forced to look in the mirror every now and then.

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