What is Safe Storage?
Safe storage requires responsible gun owners to make a reasonable effort to keep gun laws out of the hands of children and other prohibited persons. A reasonable effort can take many forms, like gun safes, trigger locks or storing ammunition separate from firearms. A 2017 study found that 66% of gun owners believe that guns should be kept in a locked place when there are children living in the home.
Twenty-seven states and DC have enacted laws to keep children from accessing firearms. With the passage of Initiative 1639 in 2018, Washington voters incentivized safe storage by creating criminal liability, depending on the severity of the incident, if a child or other prohibited person accesses and uses an unsecurely stored firearm to hurt themselves or someone else. It also requires that gun owners report the theft of their firearms within 5 days of knowing a gun was taken.
Additionally, cities like Seattle and Edmonds have enacted their own safe storage laws.
In 2017, Carla Tolle’s 13-year-old grandson Edgar was shot and killed by a friend while they played at the friend’s grandfather’s house in Kelso, Washington. The friend was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to five months in juvenile detention. The grandfather who owned the loaded, unsecured shotgun was not charged.
Read Carla’s story here.
What kind of Tragedies Can Safe storage prevent?
Unintentional shootings: Eight children are unintentionally shot in the United States every day from improperly stored firearms. Here in Washington State, nearly half of gun owners in Washington State do not lock up their guns.
Mass Shootings and Other Homicide: In school shootings over the last 20 years, where the source of the gun could be determined, more than 80% of shooters brought them from their own homes or from the homes of friends or relatives. Every year in the US, approximately 380,000 firearms are stolen from gun owners.
Suicide:A 2014 study by King County found that adolescents WITH access to firearms are 2.6 times as likely to die by suicide as adolescents WITHOUT access to firearms.