Gun resolution, ordinance on the books in Edmonds

Fine of up to $500 possible if lost, stolen guns not reported
By Brian Soergel | Mar 02, 2017
Mike Nelson

The Edmonds City Council has passed two measures in an attempt to prevent gun violence and promote gun safety.

On Feb. 14, the council passed a resolution from Councilmember Mike Nelson calling for the responsible storage of firearms. As Nelson wrote Feb. 23 in a Guest View column in the Beacon titled “Lock It Up,” the resolution supports House Bill 1122, currently in the state Legislature and sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi.

It imposes criminal liability on a gun owner if a child gains access to a gun that the gun owner failed to secure, and the gun hurts or kills the child or another person.

In 2013, the Snohomish County Board of Health passed a resolution that calls on federal and state lawmakers to take meaningful action to address gun violence. The city’s resolution aligns with the Health Board’s decision, Nelson said.

A week later, on Feb. 21, councilmembers unanimously passed an ordinance, which Nelson also brought forth, that requires owners to report lost or stolen firearms.

“This ordinance will promote public safety by enabling law enforcement to better track illegal guns and firearms used in the commission of crimes,” Nelson said.

“It will help return lost guns to their rightful owners, and protect gun owners from being wrongly implicated in crimes committed with their lost or stolen guns.

“We know that people who should not be getting access to firearms are. We also know from a recent comprehensive survey of gun owners that the number of guns actually stolen or lost is at least double the amount reported to police.”

Federal law now requires gun dealers to report lost or stolen guns. But currently, in Washington state, there is no requirement for owners to report lost or stolen guns.

Nelson said those who steal firearms commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes, and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms, including a market for those who are prohibited by law from possessing a gun.

“The problem is that in our state, 96 percent of the ‘reported’ lost or stolen guns came from individuals, not businesses,” he said. “In one year alone, Washington state had 5,053 guns reported stolen or lost.”

Nelson added that gun owners often are unable to report a lost or stolen gun's serial number to law enforcement because they are not required to keep records.

“Many people assume there is some national or state government registry of gun serial numbers, but there is not,” he said. “There is no such thing for guns after they are sold to an individual.”

The ordinance does not impose criminal penalties, as it is intended as a civil infraction, Nelson said.

The ordinance states: “If a firearm is lost or stolen, the person who owned or was in possession of the firearm shall report the theft or loss to the Edmonds Police Department if the loss or theft occurred in Edmonds.

"The report shall be made within 24 hours after the theft or loss is first discovered, and shall include to the extent known, the firearm’s caliber, make, model, manufacturer, and serial number; any other distinguishing number or identification mark on the firearm; and the circumstances of the loss or theft, including the date, place, and manner.”

The resolution also states the following: “Any violation of or failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall constitute a civil infraction and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.”


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