Gun owners in Dublin will soon be required to store their firearms inside a locked container or keep it disabled with a trigger lock while inside their home after the City Council unanimously approved the new ordinance at its meeting last week.
California already has similar laws in effect for guns in households with children living there, or that require a gun owner to store their guns from a household member who is prohibited from having guns.
"What we're doing in this case is just expanding that definition beyond those two scenarios -- children in the home or criminal record -- and applying it to all households," City Manager Linda Smith during a presentation at the Dec. 1 meeting.
Added to the Dublin Municipal Code, the ordinance known as Chapter 5.89 to Title 5, states, "No person shall keep a firearm within any residence unless the firearm is stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock."
Two exceptions were added: when the firearm is lawfully carried on an individual, or when it is under the control of a peace officer.
Councilmember Shawn Kumagai said the ordinance "will state clearly to our community that we embrace a culture of gun safety" and "safe gun storage helps to prevent unintentional and intentional injury and death of minors, helps prevent gun suicide, and deters gun theft."
A staff report stated "the unsafe storage of firearms threatens public health and safety," and that 54% of gun owners in the U.S. don't lock away all of their guns. This year, there have been at least 236 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 102 deaths and 141 injuries nationally. Seven of those were in California, resulting in two deaths and five injuries.
Another study cited in 2010 found that more than 80% of children ages 18 and younger who died by gun suicide used a gun owned by a family member.
A total of 22 cities statewide have enacted their own ordinances similar to the one in Dublin, including Oakland, Berkeley, Moraga and Sunnyvale.
"It's not about taking gun rights away from people at all whatsoever, it's about educating, it's about making sure that we do our part, and have an awareness out there," said Councilmember Melissa Hernandez, who is now the city's mayor-elect.
Hernandez said she supported "not only just saying it but actually doing something," and suggested the city could provide their own trigger locks for residents, as well as looking into various sources of grant funding for public firearms safety awareness.
Before voting for the ordinance, Councilmember Arun Goel called the issue of gun safety "near and dear to my heart."
Goel explained that someone who was like a son to him died by suicide with a gun, and said education is needed but "part of what I've always been about is, when we take an action of such a nature, it should be for the fundamentally correct things, not just for stipulation of trying to do something perfunctory or lip service."
"Systematically I agree with it, and so I'm kind of in a little bit of a confusion standpoint," Goel said. "We can agree on safety but in the reality, how much of these are issues from lawful gun owners vs. unlawful gun owners."
Goel concluded: "I'm just saying that as council members, we should be able to defend our action and why we took it from the fundamentally correct reasons happening within our boundary or something we're deliberately taking action to prevent."
The ordinance goes into effect 30 days from its adoption.