Mountain View, CA passes mandatory storage laws

Dave Martin

Everyone should have a gun safe, a gun lock, or something to keep people without permission from accessing their guns. That’s something I’ve heard from countless gun owners to new folks and something I agree with completely.

What I can’t get behind is mandatory storage laws, often termed “safe” storage.

Yet Mountain View, California has decided that they desperately need a law like this, so they passed one.

Gun owners in Mountain View will soon be required to safely lock away their firearms under a new citywide ordinance.

In a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Mountain View City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance laying out how guns must be stored when unattended in homes or vehicles.

The measure comes more than two years after the council agreed to develop a firearm safety policy following the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July 2019 that killed three people and wounded 17 others. Since then, the council has explored options to improve gun safety within the city, according to a staff report.

Back in January 2020, the council explored several other gun regulation policies, including banning people selling firearms out of homes or imposing location-based restrictions on where guns can be sold, which it chose not to pursue. The council did agree to draft an ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms on all city property, which was adopted in April 2021. And in June 2021, the council added development of a safe gun storage ordinance to its work plan, according to a staff report.

The policy is aimed at improving public safety by making it less likely for gun-related fatalities and injuries — both accidental and intentional — to occur.

Except that such laws don’t necessarily do either.

While locking a gun away when not in use is generally a good idea, mandating it tends to ignore an individual’s circumstances. Should someone who has reason to be concerned about a home invasion be forced to lock their gun away regardless of the threats against them?

Obviously not.

Mandatory storage laws don’t mandate safety, they mandate compliance. They tell everyone that they’re not allowed to make a determination based on their own needs.

“But it prevents accidents?” Maybe in some cases, but not that many. Most accidents are because of people who own the guns, not third parties.

Further, there’s no reason to believe that it’ll stop intentional acts, either. After all, those are rarely carried out by third parties unless they’ve stolen the gun first, and they can still steal a gun that’s locked up. We’ve seen it too many times.

Instead, all that Mountain View has done is made life more difficult for good, decent folks in their community.

Then again, this is California. They don’t know how to approach anything without trying to regulate the hell out of it.

In the end, no good will come of this. Someone will eventually die because they couldn’t get to their gun fast enough, and no one who supports this law will admit that maybe, just maybe, they made a mistake.