AP Photo/Dave Martin

The city of San Diego thinks it knows the personal self-defense needs of its citizens better than they do. No matter your situation, the city of San Diego thinks it knows best.

After all, why else would the city council pass an ordinance that requires citizens to lock up their guns, regardless of their situation?

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday formally approved an ordinance requiring gun owners to store their weapons in a locked container or disable them with a trigger lock when not in use or being worn on their person.

City Attorney Mara Elliott proposed the ordinance last month with the intention of reducing accidental shootings, children’s access to guns and suicides. Citing two studies, Elliott said 46% of gun owners in the U.S. who have children do not secure their guns and 73% of youngsters age 9 and under know where their parents keep their guns.

Since 2002, the state has mandated that all guns sold in California have an accompanying trigger lock approved by the state Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms. Elliott said the ordinance is a “common-sense approach” to building on current state requirements.

The council took a second vote on the ordinance, as required by the city charter, after tentatively approving it 6-2 earlier this month. City Councilman Mark Kersey, absent for the first vote, chose to join the technically nonpartisan council’s six Democrats in favor of adopting the ordinance, arguing that both sides of the debate had merit.

Of course, the measure isn’t particularly enforceable. Elliott knows this, though. The council can’t go door-to-door to check to see if you’ve got your guns locked up or not. Instead, the council is going to use this to hit people with other things.

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.

Elliott compared the proposal to the state’s 1986 law requiring drivers to wear a seatbelt; at that time, highway patrol officers could only cite drivers for not wearing a seatbelt during a traffic stop for another infraction.

In other words, it sounds like the city is going to encourage officers in San Diego to nose around any home they enter, looking for unsecured firearms. What Elliott isn’t thinking about are the unintended consequences of such behavior by law enforcement. If I have to worry about the police looking to see if I have a gun in the nightstand, then I’m going to think twice about whether I even call them, especially for minor stuff.

However, one way New York City cracked down on crime was by busting people for the small stuff. That had an impact on larger crimes for a number of reasons. While many opposed the program put in place during Rudy Guliani’s tenure, it worked. The crime rate fell.

What this measure, and the effort to enforce it, may well mean is that because some will be disinclined to call the police for minor things, that may spiral into larger crimes plaguing the city. I’m not saying it will, but it’s not impossible either.

So in her desire to supposedly make the city safer, Elliot may have pushed the city council to pass an ordinance that could increase crime.

None of that even touches on the fact that we know of at least one person who might well be dead had this rule been in place a few weeks ago.

Whoops.

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