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The Walnut Creek City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance requiring city gun owners to lock up firearms in a residence.

The ordinance requires stored, unsupervised firearms to be secured with gun locks or in a locked container. The locking requirements apply to firearms that are not being legally carried.

Legal firearm owners may still carry loaded and unlocked firearms in their home at any time. The safe storage requirements also permit legal owners to store their firearms fully loaded.

Council member Kevin Wilk said Wednesday the ordinance is about education, not criminalizing guns.

“We want to get the word out and promote this ordinance as a way to help prevent accidents, tragedies, and save lives,” Wilk said.

A staff report for the council’s June 7 meeting said California already has a law that “makes it a crime for a person to negligently store or leave a firearm in any location within premises under the person’s custody or control, and do so when the owner knows, or should know, that a child is likely to gain access to it without a parent or guardian’s permission, unless reasonable action is taken by the person to secure the firearm against access by the child.”

The report also said “Currently, there is no state law that requires safety devices, such as lock boxes or trigger locks, be used on all firearms stored in a residence.”

Several Bay Area cities, including Antioch and Pleasanton, have laws requiring gun owners to keep them locked up.

The report cites a 2017 Pew Research Center survey finding 42 percent of adults live in a gun-owning household. Roughly a third of U.S. homes with children have guns and an estimated 4.6 million children live with unlocked, loaded guns in the home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2020 there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States, and 54 percent (22,292) of the firearm-related deaths were suicides.

The report also cites a 2008 report published in the New England Journal of Medicine saying living in a home with guns increases the risk of death by homicide by between 40 percent and 170 percent, and the risk of suicide by 90 percent to 460 percent.