Ramona Giwargis | San Jose Mercury News | Link to Article
SAN JOSE — Gun owners in the city may have to lock up their firearms when they’re not at home under a proposal a City Council committee considered Wednesday that the police chief said could be enacted by next winter.
City Councilmen Ash Kalra and Raul Peralez had proposed that rule — believed to be a first of its kind for a big city — as part of a “gun violence prevention” ordinance in San Jose. State law requires gun owners to keep firearms locked up if they have children in the house.
“There is no intention to limit one’s ability to own a gun,” Kalra said. “It’s about securing firearms from getting into the wrong hands — whether it’s a burglar or a child that’s left unattended at home.”
The council’s Rules and Open Government Committee, chaired by Mayor Sam Liccardo, voted unanimously Wednesday to forward the proposed law requiring gun owners to lock up their firearms when not at home to the full City Council for consideration.
Gun owners called the proposed rules “ludicrous” and an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.
Dan Newton said his gun was stolen in a burglary not long ago. He reported it within two hours.
“I don’t see how adding these additional encumbrances on me as a legal gun owner will solve anything,” he said Wednesday. “If criminals are going to get a gun, they’re going to get a gun.”
The ordinance Kalra and Peralez proposed last month also would require San Jose gun owners to secure firearms in mounted lock boxes inside unattended cars, report stolen guns within 48 hours and require ammunition vendors to record all ammunition sales in an electronic log.
But on the recommendation of police Chief Eddie Garcia, Kalra and Peralez decided to put off consideration of those provisions until after the November election because Proposition 63, if approved by voters, would enact similar laws statewide.
Kalra and Peralez didn’t specify in their proposed ordinance whether gun owners would be required to lock up firearms when they’re at home or away. But Chief Garcia recommended requiring gun owners to disable their weapons only when they’re not home.
“Securing a firearm in a locked container while the owner is away from the premises would help mitigate the possibility that the firearm will be feloniously taken in the commission of a burglary,” Garcia wrote in a memorandum to the council committee.
Kalra and Peralez also had proposed requiring gun owners to secure their firearm in a mounted lock box inside unattended cars. But the council committee Wednesday dropped that proposal because Senate Bill 869, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month, will require gun owners to secure handguns in the trunk or a locked container out of view. That law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
Kalra also asked to explore grant funding to pay for police officers to purchase lock boxes in their private vehicles, which was approved by the committee.
More than 50 gun owners and safety advocates flooded City Hall on Wednesday to convince city leaders to either drop the gun laws or implement them as quickly as possible.
Gun safety advocates, including Lois Fiedler, said safe storage of guns can prevent theft, and reduce the risk of suicide and domestic violence.
Maya Shaffer, age 12, urged approval of the gun controls, telling committee members that her school puts on emergency drills every month to prepare for a shooter on campus.
“We are asked to hide ourselves from a stranger who is walking around campus with a gun,” Shaffer said. “It’s really stressful. I understand earthquake drills because it’s a natural disaster, but gun violence should be prevented.”