Gun owners in Seattle, Washington will face fines of up to $10,000 for not securing their firearms. The Seattle City Council unanimously voted on a new law, which is now in effect, in 2018 that makes it a civil infraction for gun owners to store a firearm without a locked container. The legislation applies only to firearms that aren't being carried or are under the control and supervision of their owners. It's also a civil infraction is the gun owner doesn't have their firearm secure when the owner knows that a minor, at-risk individual or unauthorized user can access the weapon.
What happens if you're charged with a civil infraction?
Those who are charged with a civil infraction for leaving firearms unattended or in a place where an unauthorized person can access the gun face fines. If your gun isn't in a secure gun safe you can face a fine up to $500. You can face a fine up to $1,000 if the firearm isn't locked away and a prohibited person such as a minor or another unauthorized individual accesses the gun. You can also face a $10,000 fine if an unauthorized person accesses your firearm and uses it to hurt someone or commit a crime. Over 1.69 million children in the U.S. are living in homes with unlocked, loaded firearms. And 89% of accidental shooting deaths involving children happen in the home. "While we can't prevent every gun death or injury, we can take steps to help prevent future tragedies," said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. "Requiring that gun owners responsibly store their guns can help make our communities safer places to live."
What else does the legislation involve?
The risk of accidental shooting deaths in the home differs from the risk of a mass shooting. Because of this, the legislation allows gun owners to be fined separately for each person injured or killed if their firearm isn't locked away and is accessed by an unauthorized person. The legislation also paves the way for lawsuits. Under the new law, the civil infractions will serve as initial evidence of negligence in civil court matters.