Several local leaders, companies, and organizations have come out in support of our ordinances:
Companies and organizations
Camino Pablo Elementary School PTA
CAPA (California Academy of Performing Arts)
Donald Rheem Elementary School PTA
Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School PTA
Los Perales Elementary School PTA
Moraga Pediatric Dentistry
Dr. Elaine Frank (Rheem Elementary’s retired principal)
Fr. John Kasper
Ben Olsen (realtor)
Kurt Piper (realtor)
Dr. Tom Rust (Camino Pablo Elementary’s retired principal)
A safe storage ordinance is an ordinance which requires guns in a residence that are not being carried to be stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock.
California makes it a crime to leave a loaded gun where a child is likely to access it but doesn’t require a particular method of storage. While California’s law punishes bad behavior after it occurs, it doesn’t do enough to keep children from accessing guns in the first place. Safe storage laws require guns to be stored in particular ways so they are less accessible to children, suicidal teens, and burglars. Responsible gun owners already keep their guns stored safely and those who don’t will be more likely to if the law requires it.
Another difference between a safe storage ordinance and California law is that a safe storage ordinance requires guns to be stored safely all the time – not just when kids are around – which also makes it less likely that a gun will be stolen during a burglary.
Eight communities in California – including San Francisco and Oakland – have passed “safe storage” laws. Only one of these laws was challenged. A federal appellate court upheld the law as consistent with the Second Amendment.
A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that “[o]f the homes with children and firearms, 55% were reported to have [one] or more firearms in an unlocked place,” and 43% reported keeping guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place. In 2005, the journal Pediatrics published a study on adult firearm storage practices in U.S. homes. The study found that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 were living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. In addition, a study published in 2006 in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that 73% of children under age 10 living in homes with guns reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms. The same study demonstrated that parents often believe, incorrectly, that their children do not know the location of guns stored in the home or that their children have not handled their parents’ firearms.
A dealer ordinance would impose reasonable regulations on gun sellers who wish to operate in Moraga. At a minimum, it would require dealers to sell out of commercial zones, rather than from private homes or in residential zones, so that law enforcement can have greater oversight. Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County, and fifty-eight other localities in California have these modest requirements. Many other jurisdictions in California also require dealers to comply with certain security requirements to ensure their premises are reasonably secure from theft. Many also require periodic law enforcement inspections of dealer premises and inventory reporting to deter illegal gun trafficking.
Although one individual is federally licensed to sell guns from his home, Moraga law enforcement has stated that this individual does not, in fact, sell guns. If this is the case, an ordinance regulating gun dealers selling firearms would not impact this individual.
The fact remains, however, that there is no law in Moraga that would prevent someone from selling large quantities of firearms out of their homes or close to schools and playgrounds. Gun dealers are a high-value target for criminals, and have often been magnets for break-ins, theft, and destruction of property. These crimes are on the rise. Between 2013 and 2015, gun dealers reported a 36% increase in burglaries, robberies, and larcenies. In 2016, there were numerous reports of robberies or attempted robberies of firearms dealers in California. Many of these were so-called “smash-and grab” robberies, where perpetrators drive their car into a gun store in order to break down doors and gates.
Because of the risk of crime associated with gun dealers, they do not belong in residential communities or private residences where children are more likely to be present. They belong in commercial areas where they can adequately secure their premises from burglaries and law enforcement, and the public, can have greater oversight.
Enforcement of a safe storage law is the same as enforcement of any other law. The fact that the law applies to conduct in a home does not make it unique. There are many things you can’t do in your home. Your front door does not insulate you from the law. For example, a Moraga ordinance prohibits a person from having a private party with five or more people under age 21 if alcoholic beverages are possessed by anyone under 21. An exception is made if the individuals are members of the same immediate family or engaged in a religious service. Moraga Code 9.06.030, 9.06.040. Unless there was an emergency, Moraga PD wouldn’t be authorized to go into a private person’s home during a party to check whether this ordinance was being violated. Accordingly, it is enforced in other ways, such as, if the police are in the home for a lawful reason and notice a violation, or if someone reports a violation.
The enforceability of an ordinance is not its sole justification. As a society, we don’t have seatbelt laws because we expect to ticket every single person who drives without a seatbelt. We know that laws can influence behavior. This law seeks to establish a normative standard of conduct much like fastening a seatbelt when getting into a car or fastening the childproof cap on a medicine bottle. We don’t do these things because we expect police to be watching us. We do these things because we are responsible citizens. If a safe storage law can prevent unauthorized access by one child, or prevent one gun from being stolen and sold into the criminal marketplace because a gun owner followed the law, it is worth it.
The government regulates many of your personal possessions. Your car or motorcycle, while private property, is subject to a number of regulations: it must be licensed and regularly inspected. When driving, you are subject to certain restrictions; when building you have to consider zoning laws. Some communities require you to maintain your lawn, you can’t freely discharge your gun if you are a certain distance from your neighbor, etc. The government can regulate the use of private property to protect the health and safety of its citizens.
A safe storage ordinance only regulates unattended guns. It would not prevent a gun owner from carrying his or her loaded gun at all times in his or her home. Affordable lockboxes using Simplex-type locks, which pop open immediately when several keys or pushbuttons are touched in a preset sequence, are widely available. Users report that they can retrieve a loaded weapon in just two to three seconds, and that the locks are also easy to open in the dark. A publication of the Education & Training Division of the National Rifle Association describes this type of lockbox as providing “a good combination of security and quick access.” Some lockboxes also feature biometric locks, which provide immediate access when they scan the owner’s fingerprint.
Unsecured guns in the home pose grave risks to children, but also to teens (and others) experiencing a crisis. A 1999 study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that more than 75% of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend. In 1999, researchers from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found in at least two studies that the risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked. In California, between 2005 and 2015, 533 children and teenagers committed suicide with firearms, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Unlocked guns in the home are susceptible to theft during home invasions. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics—a program of the United States Department of Justice—172,000 firearms are stolen each year during residential burglaries. 135,000 of these stolen firearms are never recovered by police. According to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, private individuals in California reported nearly 10,000 stolen guns in 2012. The real number of stolen guns is likely higher because California does not currently require gun owners to report the theft of a firearm although gun owners will be required to report the loss or theft of a firearm beginning July 1, 2017.
Finally, in July, 2004, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education published a study examining 37 school shootings from 1974-2000 and found that in 68% of the cases, the attacker got the gun from his or her own home or that of a relative. The Sandy Hook shooter, who massacred 20 first-graders and 6 of their educators on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT, used guns he took from his mother’s arsenal.
Safe storage laws can reduce the risks discussed above by making guns inaccessible to people who are not authorized to have them.
California requires an individual to purchase a trigger lock or gun safe when purchasing a firearm. If the purchaser already owns a gun safe, he or she can sign a document attesting to that rather than buying another one. Nothing, however, requires the gun owner to use the gun safe or trigger lock that he or she owns or purchases.
We are a group of Moraga citizens who are concerned about the safety of Moraga’s children. Some of us have known children who committed suicide with a parent’s firearm, or had playmates show our children unsecured guns during a play date. Some of us accidentally or intentionally fired a gun when we were young while playing with a parent’s unsecured gun. Some of us lived in Moraga in 1991 when a JM student was killed while playing with a gun at a friend’s house. Many of our children were in elementary school when a deranged individual used his mother’s guns to kill a classroom full of seven-year- olds and six adults in Newtown, CT.
We respect our neighbors’ right to own guns, but we also believe in reasonable, commonsense regulations of gun ownership and sales to prevent tragedies.
ommunity Leaders and Organizations
Several local companies and organizations and community leaders support our ordinances:
CAPA (California Academy of Performing Arts)
Community Leaders and Members
Dr. Elaine Frank (retired principal of Rheem Elementary)
Ben Olsen (realtor)
Kurt Piper (realtor)
Dr. Tom Rust (retired principal of Camino Pablo Elementary)