I got a tip this weekend from a friend who let me know about a local gun control measure in Ithaca, New York that’s been flying mostly under the media’s radar, and as I started to dig a little deeper I realized that I’ve seen nearly identical language recently; not in New York but more than a thousand miles away in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota.
As it turns out, these proposed storage mandates are popping up all over the place, from California to New York, and it doesn’t appear to be happening organically. Instead, it looks like this is part of a broader push by anti-gun groups like Moms Demand Action to restrict access to firearms for self-defense inside the home, as well as challenging firearms preemption laws in place in many states that ostensibly stop localities from imposing their own gun control measures in the first place.
The recent ordinance adopted in St. Paul was apparently written with the help of Moms Demand Action, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the group has been reaching out to city council members in places like Ithaca and Evanston, Illinois as well given the similarities in the storage mandate’s language. Here’s the local paper in Ithaca describing the proposed ordinance:
The gist of the legislation is to make sure those who own guns keep them “stored in a locked container or disabled with a locking device” while the gun is in a residence.
“The firearm must be stored or disabled in a manner that a reasonable person would believe renders it inaccessible to unauthorized users,” the legislation reads. “It is a violation of this prohibition if the key, or mechanism, or code to unlock or disable the locked container or locking device is reasonably accessible to someone other than the owner or custodian.”
The measure, proposed by Mayor Daniel Biss, would make it illegal to have a gun in a home unless it is secured with an engaged trigger or cable lock or is stored in a locked container or gun room.
It would also be illegal to allow the key or combination to the security device to be readily available to a person not authorized to have the gun or to leave a secured handgun unattended in a vehicle within view of persons outside of it.
Fines under the measure would range from $1,000 to $2,000.
Both of those proposals look an awful lot like the storage mandate just approved in St. Paul, though that ordinance came with a unique twist in a lame attempt to circumvent the state’s firearm preemption statute, which forbids localities from establishing their own gun laws in most circumstances but allows them to regulate the discharge of firearms inside city limits.
Under the amendment to the St. Paul Legislative Code, gun owners who leave their weapons where “another person who is not an authorized user is likely to gain access, including a vehicle,” could be found guilty of attempting to discharge a firearm. Gun owners are exempted if they use a gun lock or place their firearms in a locked container.
In addition to these three cities, we’ve also seen substantially similar storage mandates imposed or introduced in cities like Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio as well as Napa, California over the past few months.
While the language might vary a little bit depending on the location, the intent behind all of these bills is the same. Supposedly these local laws are all about preventing guns from being stolen, but they’re written so broadly that they’ll have a direct impact on gun owners’ ability to defend themselves in their own homes… at least if they adhere to the ordinance.
Most of our Second Amendment battles are being waged at the state and federal level, but gun owners can’t overlook these local infringements whenever they rear their ugly heads. As a gun owner, I take step to ensure that my firearms are secure, but what works for me may not be necessary for everyone, especially for those who don’t have kids in the home. Even then its up to us as parents, not the government, to decide when our kids are mature enough to have access to a firearm, and these storage mandates could end up putting both parents and kids at risk by rendering a firearm useless for self-defense when one is needed most.
These ordinances could soon be coming to a city council near you, especially if you live in a Democrat-controlled locale. Keep your eyes open for any potential infringements like these, but it might not be a bad idea to be proactive and contact your own city council member and urge them to resist any attempt to mandate a one-size-fits-all storage mandate on gun owners going forward. Given the success the anti-gunners have had with this bad idea, we’re sure to see a lot more of it in the future.