City Hall

New Seattle Law Requires Gun Owners to Lock Up Firearms

"This is the kind of action we need to save lives."

By Hayat Norimine July 10, 2018

Under new Seattle law, gun owners will now be required to lock up their firearms, and could face fines up to $10,000 if they get in the wrong hands. 

Seattle council members on Monday passed a bill that requires safe storage of guns as a way to prevent them from being accessed by someone at-risk or violent. The law also raises fines for those who break the law, including a penalty of $10,000 if a prohibited person uses the gun to hurt someone or commit a crime. 

Seattle officials say the measure is a way to prevent adolescent deaths and suicide; a Harborview study concluded that securing firearms decreases the chance of accidental firearm injuries and deaths to youth by 73 percent. And 78 percent of gun deaths in Washington state resulted from suicide.

“This is the kind of action we need to save lives," Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. "While we can’t prevent every gun death or injury, we can take steps to help prevent future tragedies."

Durkan back in March announced the bill as a gun violence prevention strategy following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where a shooter killed 17 students and staffers. Protests nationwide in March called for officials to do more to address gun violence.

Washington state is ranked one of the highest in the country for its gun safety regulations, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Some state preemption law limits cities from enacting its own legislation that would go further, like banning assault weapons.

"We believe that this is a balanced, reasonable approach that addresses any potential preemption arguments at the state level," council member Lorena Gonzalez said at the council meeting.

Many deaths resulting from gun violence don't involve assault weapons or an unlawful purchase, but rather resulted from someone accessing a firearm in another way.

In Washington state, 15 mass shootings since 2014 resulted in 32 deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The majority (17 deaths) involved someone prohibited from owning a firearm. Four deaths involved assault weapons, and two deaths came from an unlawful purchase.

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