San Diego’s “safe storage” law took effect Thursday, but don’t expect the new ordinance to actually have much of an affect. As it turns out, this is another soundbite solution that doesn’t actually solve anything at all. The ordinance requires all gun owners to keep firearms locked at all times that they’re not “in use” or being carried in your home, which not only dances awfully close to the storage law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller decision, but is utterly unenforceable from a proactive standpoint.
The measure was suggested by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott in conjunction with the anti-gun group San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, and according to Elliott, it’s just “common sense”.
“Safe storage is proven to prevent tragedies and save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of minors, unauthorized users, and individuals going through personal crises that could result in them harming themselves or others,” Elliott said. “We all are safer when this law is followed.”
Unless of course you need your firearm in self-defense and can’t get to your gun in time to use it. A one-size-fits-all ordinance like this means that if you want to protect yourself in your home, you need to be carrying at all times. Ostensibly this bill would even require you to have your gun on your hip or ankle while you slept, or else keep it locked up in a safe or with a trigger lock.
And just how exactly does Elliott propose to enforce the new ordinance?
According to Elliott, the San Diego Police Department will enforce the law by finding improperly stored guns in a home during a visit for another reason such as a domestic disturbance.
What about police visiting a home because it was broken into? Does Elliott expect police to arrest a homeowner who was the victim of a burglary and happened to have their firearm stored in an unlocked container, for example? Does she expect police to root around through people’s homes to check to see if their firearms are secure when they’re called out for an un-related reason?
I suspect we’ll soon see a court challenge to this new ordinance, at least based on the objections of pro-2A groups in the state.
Not everyone agreed with the new ordinance at the city council meeting Tuesday.
“There’s a home invasion every two minutes in the U.S.,” said Barry Bordack, a local volunteer with the California Rifle and Pistol Association. “Bad guys often run away when faced with armed resistance.”
Bordack said recently in Carlsbad a man was stabbed during a home invasion until his son shot the intruder.
“You do not have the constitutional right or training to tell a gun owner how to secure the guns in their own home,” said Bordack.
I also suspect you won’t find too many people actually charged with violating this ordinance, not because of massive compliance but because it’s almost impossible to enforce. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t store your gun safety. I believe you absolutely should. I also believe that you’re going to know the best way for you to do that far better than the city council or the city attorney. Someone who has young kids in the home and a retiree who lives alone, for example, are going to have very different concerns and may not choose to store their firearms in exactly the same manner. There should be nothing wrong with that, but in San Diego it’s now a crime.