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January 5, 2016

President Lynette Gibson McElhaney

Oakland City Council
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 232
Oakland, CA 94612
Re: Support for Ordinances Requiring Safe Storage of Firearms in Residences and
Dear President McElhaney,
On behalf of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (Law Center), I write to
strongly encourage the City Council to adopt the proposed ordinances requiring the
safe storage of firearms in residences and vehicles. Founded by lawyers after an assault
weapon massacre at a San Francisco law firm in 1993, the Law Center provides legal
expertise in support of gun violence prevention to federal, state, and local legislators
Safe Storage of Firearms in Residences
Existing Safe Storage Laws
Safe storage ordinances have been enacted in the following California cities: San
Francisco, Los Angeles, Sunnyvale, and Santa Cruz. The law has also been enacted by
the State of Massachusetts.
Safe storage laws take a variety of approaches. San Francisco requires handguns stored
in a residence to be kept in a locked compartment, or disabled with a trigger lock, when
the owners are not carrying the firearms.i Los Angeles ordinance is similar, but makes
an exception for owners who keep their handguns under their immediate control.ii
Sunnyvales ordinance mirrors Los Angeles but applies the requirements to all
firearms, not only handguns.iii Santa Cruzs law requires all firearms kept in a residence
to be safely stored unless the gun is being carried.iv Massachusetts requires all firearms
kept in any locationnot only a residenceto be stored safely whenever the gun is out
of the owners immediate control.v
Oaklands proposed ordinance would require gun owners to safely store any firearm
kept in a residence in a secure gun safe, or with a trigger lock, when the gun is not
being carried on the person.
The Risks Posed by Unsecured Firearms in the Home
A 1999 study 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.vi
At least two studies have found that the risk of suicide increases in homes where guns
are kept loaded and/or unlocked.vii Data from Massachusettsthe only state in the
nation to have a safe storage lawindicates that these laws can reduce the rate of gun
suicide deaths. Massachusetts gun suicide death rate decreased significantly the year
after it enacted its safe storage law and has remained low for the nearly 20 years since.
In 2014, Massachusetts had the lowest rate of suicides by gun in the nation.

Suicide is not the only risk posed by unsecured guns in the home, however. In July 2004, the U.S. Secret
Service and U.S. Department of Education published a study examining 37 school shootings from 19742000. That study found that in more than 65% of the cases, the attacker got the gun from his or her own
home or that of a relative.viii In 2012, Adam Lanza used his mothers unsecured firearms to kill her and
slaughter 20 school children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary.ix Guns stolen from residences also
contribute to the market for crime guns. Data from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) indicates that more than 173,000 guns were reported lost or
stolen by private individuals in 2012.x
Safe Storage Ordinances are Consistent with the Second Amendment
Opponents of laws requiring the safe storage of firearms claim that such laws violate the Second
Amendment. This claim, however, ignores the scope of the right articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in
District of Columbia v. Heller,xi and has been repeatedly rejected by the courts.
In Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects a law-abiding, responsible
citizens right to possess an operable handgun in the home for self-defense. The Court struck down a
District of Columbia ordinance that totally ban[ned] handgun possession in the home and required that
any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times.xii The Court
found the ordinance unconstitutional precisely because it made it impossible for citizens to use [firearms]
for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.xiii But the Court was careful to restrict its ruling to the unduly
broad prohibition at issue, specifically stating that its holding was not intended to suggest the invalidity
of laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents.
Following Heller, several jurisdictions safe storage laws were upheld by reviewing courts because,
unlike the Districts law at issue, they do not prohibit a gun owner from possessing a functional firearm in
the home for self-defense. Furthermore, courts have held that safe storage laws do not impose an
impermissible burden on an individuals exercise of his or her Second Amendment rights because a safely
stored firearm can be accessed in a matter of seconds.
Significantly, in March of last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Second Amendment
challenge to San Franciscos safe storage law.xiv The Court found that the law imposed only a minimal
burden on the right to self-defense in the home because it allowed the owner to carry a loaded firearm on
his or her body and caused a delay of only a few seconds while a firearm is unlocked or retrieved from
storage. This June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review that decision.xv
Safe Storage of Firearms in Vehicles
Existing Law Does Not Address Guns Stored In Unattended Vehicles
It is unlawful under California law for persons without concealed carry permits to transport a concealed
firearm in a vehicle unless it is kept in a locked container or in the vehicles trunk.xvi No explicit state law
regulates the storage of firearms in unattended vehicles by concealed carry permittees or other
individuals. Because of the grave risks posed by unsecured firearms in vehicles, local action is needed.
The Risk of Unsecured Firearms in Vehicles
On July 1, 2015, 32-year old Kate Steinle was shot and killed while she was walking with her father along
Pier 14 in San Francisco. The gun used in the shooting was stolen out of a federal agents vehicle by a
convicted felon. The gun allegedly was kept in a backpack that was visible from outside the vehicle.
Following Steinles killing, a spate of gun thefts from law enforcement vehicles made headlines. In
August, a gun was stolen from an off-duty Hayward police officers vehicle while he was in Oakland.
That same month, the University of California, Berkeley Police Chiefs handgun was stolen from her

vehicle while she was jogging in Richmond. In September, 2015, a gun was stolen from a car rented by
federal immigration officials and parked in San Francisco. It was used two weeks later to kill an artist
painting an anti-violence mural in Oakland. In October, 2015, an off-duty California Highway Patrol
Officers gun was stolen out of his personal vehicle in San Francisco.
Tragic consequences arent limited to gun thefts from law enforcement vehicles. In October of this year, a
handgun was reported stolen from a private vehicle parked in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood in San
Francisco. It was used to kill a Canadian tourist in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Two days later,
the gun was used to kill a yoga instructor who had been hiking in Marin County.
In Oakland between 2004 and 2015, approximately 300 firearms were reported stolen from vehicles. The
ATF states that 15% of stolen firearms are used in crimes, amounting to 45 guns over this period in
Oaklands proposed ordinance would require people legally transporting firearms in their vehicles to
safely store the firearms when they leave the vehicle to ensure that the firearms are not accessible to
thieves or other unauthorized users. Such requirements will very likely reduce the number of guns stolen
from vehicles and used in crimes, and make Oakland safer from gun violence. Accordingly, I hope the
council will vote to enact this ordinance.

Allison Anderman
Staff Attorney

S.F., Cal., Police Code 4512(a), (c)(2).

City of Los Angeles Ordinance Number 183966, available at http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2014/141553_ord_183956_12-16-15.pdf.
Sunnyvale, Cal., Municipal Code 9.44.040.
City of Santa Cruz Ordinance Number 2015-16, available at
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, 131L(a).
David C. Grossman, Donald T. Reay & Stephanie A. Baker, Self-Inflicted and Unintentional Firearm Injuries
Among Children and Adolescents: The Source of the Firearm, 153 Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 875, 875 (Aug.
1999), at http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=347593.
Matthew Miller & David Hemenway, The Relationship Between Firearms and Suicide: A Review of the
Literature, 4 Aggression & Violent Behavior 59, 62-65 (1999) (summarizing the findings of multiple studies).
U.S. Secret Service & U.S. Dept of Education, The Final Report & Findings of the Safe School Initiative
Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States 27 (July 2004),
Carol Kuruvilla, Families of Newtown victims say Adam Lanzas mom shares blame for raising a murderer, New
York Daily News, November 29, 2013, available at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/newtown-familiesblame-adam-lanza-mom-raising-murderer-article-1.1531903.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, U.S. Department of Justice, 2012 Summary: Firearms Reported Lost or
Stolen 4 (June 2013), at https://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Firearms/2012-summary-firearms-reportedlost-and-stolen-2.pdf.
554 U.S. 570 (2008).
Id. at 628 (emphasis added).
Id. at 630 (emphasis added).
Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, 746 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2014)
Cal Pen Code 25850, 25610.