By James Fite
Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new gun control measure on Monday, July 9. CB119266 forbids residents from keeping any firearm not “carried or under control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user” in the home unless it is locked away. Three levels of fines are laid out in the new ordinance: $500 for violating the new rule, $1,000 should the wrong person get their hands on the gun, and $10,000 per victim if the wrong person gets the gun and uses it in the commission of a crime or shoots anyone – criminally or accidentally.
Given Seattle’s habit of passing progressive laws, it’s tempting to write this off as just another attempt by the gun grabbing left to nullify the Second Amendment. However, upon closer inspection, the author does seem focused on preventing unnecessary deaths rather than just banning weapons. The erroneous leftist belief that the gun itself is the problem is still there, of course, and this shot at firearms safety missed the mark. Sadly, all the good intentions in the world won’t put an end to violence and accidents. Locking up our weapons is not the answer; the combination of education and accountability is.
Not Your Everyday Store and Lock Law
The first 950 or so words of this ordinance contain a bunch of “whereas” clauses listing statistics and definitions – essentially just virtue signaling to build up the illusion of moral high ground. But it does eventually get to the meat of the rule:
“It shall be a civil infraction for any person to store or keep any firearm in any premises unless such weapon is secured in a locked container, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inaccessible or unusable to any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. Notwithstanding the foregoing, for purposes of this Section 10.79.020, such weapon shall be deemed lawfully stored or lawfully kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.”
There are two issues with all firearm restrictions: the ethical and the practical. Like all the rest, this gun control measure runs afoul of the ethical rule – as explained by the Second Amendment – that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
However, what sets this ordinance apart from other store and lock requirements is that it explicitly states that a firearm carried or under the control of the owner or authorized user is considered lawfully stored. While most similar regulations effectively strip the homeowner of the right to bear arms in defense of self, family, and home, this one does not. It makes keeping a defensive weapon available inconvenient, sure, as the gun must always be carried on the person or in some way be under the owner’s control – but it doesn’t prohibit it outright.
The Road to Hell…
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Councilmember M. Lorena González might have had their hearts in the right places – but their aim was way off. “This is the kind of action we need to save lives. While we can’t prevent every gun death or injury, we can take steps to help prevent future tragedies,” said Mayor Durkan in a statement. “We know that unsecured, unsafely stored guns help fuel this crisis of violence because they are more likely to cause accidents, fall into the wrong hands, or be used in suicides. Requiring that gun owners responsibly store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live. In the coming weeks, I will sign this legislation into law– and we will keep acting to prevent tragedies.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to passing effective legislation and saving lives, these ladies couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Locked up guns won’t stop suicides – those who want to end their lives will do so, whether they have access to guns or not. And, of course, the owner of the firearm has access to it even if it is locked away; they must merely retrieve it. Kids do, from time to time, gain access to weapons – even ones in safes.
No matter how hard one tries, no law can be made that will successfully end suicides. For that reason, let’s move on to the only concern we can reliably address. Kids eventually grow up – and either before or after that happens, they will all at some point be able to get their hands on firearms and other deadly weapons. Is it really better to lock the guns away and make them taboo? Children, teens, and even young adults are drawn to the unknown, the mysterious, and the forbidden. This is, in large part, why so many high school students engage in binge drinking whenever they think they can get away with it, or why almost all smokers got their start before they were legally of age.
It’s cool to buck authority when we’re too young and ignorant to realize that we’re not ready for life unshackled from it. But what about all those who inevitably appear in any gun control conversation and say that they were raised in a home full of guns and never shot anyone? How is it that all these people didn’t accidentally kill themselves, their families, or their friends while playing with guns? How is it that the loaded shotgun leaning up in the corner didn’t overpower the wills of these folk like Sauron’s ring and drive them all to lives of crime or one-time rage fueled rampages? The answer is simple: education and accountability.
Teach Your Children and Exercise Your Rights
Hiding guns from our youth and sheltering them from the issue doesn’t prepare them for the real world outside of parental care – or for the unfortunate possibility that they’ll get their hands on guns as uninformed children. Teaching kids firearms safety, letting them shoot in controlled situations under direct supervision, and instilling respect for the power of the weapon, the value of life, and the importance of accepting the consequences of their actions is far more likely to prevent them from becoming the next set of CDC statistics.
As for crime, the answer is two-fold. Exercising the right to keep and bear arms is the best deterrent against criminals today. As the saying goes, an armed society is a polite society. To reduce the number of criminals tomorrow, see the previous mention of consequences. Teaching children about accountability includes letting them know that if they get shot while violating the rights of another, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.