SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – An ordinance requiring anyone storing a gun in a vehicle to secure it in a lockbox, including on and off-duty law enforcement personnel, is set to come before the Board of Supervisors next month.
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos said the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee approved the proposed ordinance Thursday. It will come before the full board for a vote on Dec. 4.
The ordinance, which was introduced in September, originally focused solely on requiring law enforcement personnel to secure their weapons in vehicles, but the expanded ordinance will now apply to everyone in the city.
Campos said the ordinance would provide greater protection to San Franciscans and could lead the rest of the state, and the nation, to follow suit.
He said that beginning with the July 1 shooting of San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 with a handgun stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger’s vehicle, there has been a troubling trend of guns stolen from parked cars in San Francisco and used in criminal activity.
Frank Pitre, the attorney representing the Steinle family, filed a claim in August against the BLM, alleging the gun that caused Steinle’s death should have been locked and secured in the ranger’s vehicle.
He said the gun was apparently stowed in a backpack, not a lockbox, as required by federal law.
Following Steinle’s death, a number of law enforcement personnel had their firearms stolen from parked vehicles during auto break-ins around the Bay Area.
In August, University of California at Berkeley police Chief Margo Bennett had her department-issued gun stolen from her car while she was jogging at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond.
That same month a Hayward police officer’s gun was stolen from a car in Oakland.
In late October, a member of the California Highway Patrol had a personal firearm stolen from a vehicle in San Francisco, police said.
Campos said hundreds of guns have been stolen or lost from Bay Area law enforcement agencies alone in the past five years. But the problem is bigger than law enforcement, as guns are also being stolen from civilian vehicles.
Just last month, a handgun in a lockbox that was stolen from an unlocked vehicle parked near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood was allegedly used in the fatal shooting of two people in the Bay Area by a trio of suspects, according to San Francisco police investigators.
San Francisco police Cmdr. Toney Chaplin said following that incident, “San Francisco has an auto-burglary problem.”
Chaplin said vehicles in San Francisco are very likely to be broken into and that anyone who owns a firearm should leave it at home, secured, and not in a vehicle.
Campos’ proposed ordinance will require anyone storing a gun in a vehicle in San Francisco to secure the weapon in a lockbox affixed to the vehicle or in a fully enclosed, locked trunk with automatic release levers disabled.
Current state statutes on the securing of guns in vehicles are vague, Campos said today.
“The theft of guns, weapons, from vehicles is not only an issue here in San Francisco but a major problem throughout this state and throughout this country,” Campos said.
He said in San Francisco, he wants the law to be “crystal clear.”
Paulette Brown, a San Francisco woman who lost her 17-year-old son to gun violence on August 14, 2006, said her son was shot 30 times with a semi-automatic gun. She said her son’s case has gone unsolved and she believes this gun control ordinance can help stop more children from dying.
“Let there be better gun control. Let them put these guns in their trunk in a locked box so that when their car gets broken in, these guns won’t get stolen and our children won’t get murdered,” Brown said.
Allison Anderman, attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, yet the state still doesn’t require gun owners to report when a firearm is stolen.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), more than 10,000 guns were stolen in California in 2012. Additional guns were stolen but went unreported in California that year, officials said.
The ATF estimates that 15 percent of guns stolen from vehicles are then used to commit crimes.
Campos noted that while there were roughly 9,000 victims of gun violence in California in 2013, San Francisco is the first city in the state to introduce an ordinance requiring firearms to be secured in vehicles.
The ATF data showed that in 2012 more than 173,000 guns were reported lost or stolen across the country, but that 39 states did not require residents to report stolen or lost guns, suggesting many stolen or lost guns went unreported.
According to the ATF, another 19,000 firearms are reported lost or stolen by federal firearms license dealers nationwide each year.
The proposed ordinance states that if an unsecured gun is stolen from a vehicle, and the gun owner has failed to abide by the ordinance, they could face misdemeanor charges, including a $10,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail, Campos said.
© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.