Mad River Union
ARCATA – The Arcata City Council last week considered a possible ordinance requiring Arcata firearms owners to store their weapons unloaded and locked up in a safe or locker. No action was taken other than to direct staff to develop language for future consideration. That may be done in conjunction with the new Public Safety Committee, which forms this August.
The ordinance came at the urging of two Northcoast Preparatory Academy students, Olivia Joachim and Eva Swartz.
In a letter to the council, the two advocated safer gun storage based on Humboldt County’s gun-related death rate of 17.1 per 100,o00 people –much higher than the statewide rate of 7.7 per 100,000.
“Please save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of minors,” the two ask in the letter.
A staff report said the ordinance could address negative firearm impacts including children and teenagers accessing weapons, felons and people with mental health issues doing so, escalation of domestic violence incidents, and thefts of unlocked firearms from home.
Skeptics of the ordinance, none of whom showed up to address the council, hold that it is unenforceable and would put responsible gun owners at risk by preventing them from responding to intruders with force in a timely fashion.
Councilmember Paul Pitino said the ordinance “symbolically tells whoever owns that gun that they have to control it” and is an initial step in reducing gun violence. “I think it starts the conversation,” he said.
Mayor Sofia Pereira thanked the students and said the ordinance could be educational.