ENCINITAS — A law designed to reduce gun-related suicides, domestic violence deaths and accidental deaths was recently adopted in Encinitas.
The Encinitas City Council unanimously approved the safe storage of firearms ordinance at its Sept. 25 meeting. All firearm owners will have to keep their firearms locked in a container or disabled with a trigger lock. Exceptions apply to firearms legally carried by their owners or within the immediate control of the authorized user so that the person can readily retrieve and use the firearm as if they’re carrying it.
Over the summer, the cities of San Diego and Solana Beach both approved their own safe storage of firearm ordinances. Prior to the vote, the council heard a presentation from San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, who said she was happy to see Encinitas looking into adopting its own ordinance.
Elliott said on average 1,300 children are killed and 5,800 are injured each year, the majority of these kids shot in their own homes. She said the ordinance is a preventative measure designed to avert tragedy before it strikes.
“We know that safe storage laws work when it comes to protecting our children,” Elliott said. “Children have access to guns in great numbers, leading to accidental deaths and suicides.”
The council also heard from speakers, one against and three in support of the ordinance.
Attorney and Encinitas resident Gregory Garrison argued that the ordinance was immoral, illegal and financially irresponsible and would put citizens like himself in danger.
“A loaded firearm in every room of the home greatly increases my chances and my family’s chances of defending ourselves, our neighbors and each other,” Garrison said. “This proposed ordinance will not make this community safer.”
Garrison cited a study, published by John Lott and John Whitley in The Journal of Law and Economics, in which the two empirically proved that mandating gun laws causes an increase in death rates. He said should the council pass the ordinance he will be challenging it in both state superior court and federal district court.
Resident Steve Bartram, a 21-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, said he lost his teenage nephew Kyle to gun violence nine years ago and was in support of the ordinance. He said Kyle died because a weapon in his grandfather’s house was insufficiently secured.
“With the ordinance that’s being proposed for our community this tragedy would not have occurred here,” Bartram said. “Let us ensure that we are doing our best to never let that happen to our children or anyone in this community and let this be a part of our efforts to bring this ordinance to every place we can reach.”
Del Norte High School student Stephan Abrams also spoke in support, saying he was speaking out for his two younger sisters, so they won’t fear going to school or having to endure the pain of a friend who has committed suicide by firearm.
“This ordinance will not only help promote gun safety but more importantly limit access to guns falling into the wrong hands,” 16-year-old Abrams said.
Just before the vote, Councilman Joe Mosca said the common-sense legislation is something “we need to, and we must put in place to prevent deaths.”
Mayor Catherine Blakespear said most of these regulations happen at the federal or state level, but this is one where they can assert some power at the local level.
“And whenever I see something like this, I think it’s a really top priority that we all do whatever we can to reduce the amount of gun violence in this country,” Blakespear said. “This is a really important step for us to be taking.”
Encinitas adopts safe storage of firearms ordinance, mayor calls it ‘important step’
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.