San Jose Weighs Gun Storage Policy to Prevent Theft

Each year more than 172,000 guns nationwide are stolen in burglaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. In San Jose alone, the city tallied 265 gun thefts from 2014 to 2017. While California now requires gun owners to notify authorities if a firearm  is lost or stolen, there’s no state law that addresses theft-prevention.

San Jose is debating how to address that policy gap. The City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to adopt a safe-storage ordinance, which would require gun owners to lock up their weapons while they’re away or risk getting fined.

“Stolen firearms are commonly used in subsequently committed crimes,” City Attorney Rick Doyle and City Manager David Sykes wrote in an analysis of the proposed ordinance. “As a result, there is a significant public interest in preventing them from falling into the hands of persons involved in criminal activity.”

Councilman Raul Peralez and then-Councilman Ash Kalra asked the city to study a safe-storage ordinance last year. Since that time, the state has enacted new gun control laws. As of this year, California prohibits large-capacity magazines and requires background checks for ammunition sales. Also as of this year, it’s mandatory for guns left in vehicles to be locked in the trunk or a container out of plain view.

But there’s no such rule for guns left at home. Doyle and Sykes said there’s “a compelling argument” for mandating some measure of theft prevention, whether that entails a secure container or a trigger lock.

Enforcement could get tricky, however. City staff noted that violations wouldn’t come to light unless police were called to a home on report of a burglary or unless officers found a stolen gun used in some other crime.

“Officers at the scene would have the discretion, based on the totality of the circumstances, to take enforcement action,” the Doyle-Sykes memo noted. “This would result in minimal added workload to officers and virtually no fiscal impact to the city, other than revenue from fines collected due to a violation.”

The secure-storage rule could very well curb the number of gun thefts, they noted, but the city should enforce it in a way that doesn’t deter people from reporting stolen firearms that weren’t properly secured. One way to do that, Doyle and Sykes suggested, is to have a 24-hour grace period under which cops wouldn’t cite a person for a violation if they report the theft right away.

The memo listed a few policy alternatives from other cities, but problems were found with each one. San Francisco, for example, has a safe-storage law that requires guns be locked in a container or disabled with a trigger lock if the owner isn’t carrying it. The risk there, the document stated, is that it could incentivize more people to walk around armed with guns inside their home.

Sunnyvale’s gun storage law requires the same restrictions unless the weapon is in the owner’s “immediate possession and control” or “within close enough proximity and control.” City staff called the phrasing of the rule a little too open-ended.

Doyle also advised against exempting active-duty law enforcement from the safe-storage rule. “Law enforcement personnel are victims of burglaries, just like any other member of the public,” he wrote. “This exemption could potentially result in unsecured firearms being in the hands of criminals.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 17, 2017:

  • Mayor Sam Liccardo wants the city to study the potential impact of a ballot measure that would rezone property in the city’s eastern foothills to make way for a senior housing development. Liccardo’s dead-set against the Evergreen Hills project, which would use land reserved for commercial development. If the council approves the directive, city staff would study, among other things, the development’s economic impact and infrastructure needs.
  • The city manager’s annual financial report is up for review. The 292-page document notes how the city has been trying to prepare for a $35 million general fund shortfall next year. While the city is mostly keeping in line with its projections for the 2016-17 budget, there were some added costs, including a new police helicopter ($1.6 million), beefed-up emergency management ($250,000) and planning for Google’s potential arrival in downtown ($415,000).
  • In the wake of several public suicides in downtown in recent years, Councilman Peralez brought up the idea of adopting a suicide prevention policy. The proposal, which he initially pitched at a subcommittee meeting, garnered several letters of support. Victor Ojakian, who co-chairs the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee, noted in a letter that San Jose could model its policy after Palo Alto’s. “In December 2004, I had a son take his life,” Ojakian wrote. He added: “I came to understand that suicide is a complex behavior and that no one is exempt. If suicide goes unaddressed, individuals will lose their lives.”

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to jenniferw@metronews.com or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

20 Comments

  1. You don’t want to post our comments SJI? We mean that little to you? Stupid knuckle dragging conservatives?
    It’s your website. You can do what you want.

    And the divide grows wider…

    • “Stupid knuckle dragging conservatives” ? Trust me,no one thinks that highly of you ! I’d like to share my erudite description of you brain dead sub-human fascists,but I’m sure it would be censored posthaste.

    • I note that as usual, Sam Waxman’s hate-filled, sociopathic rant gets a green light.

      But left of center posts are approved, as long as they trash conservatives—no matter how vile and hate-filled the comments might be. Because we must have free speech, mustn’t we? It’s the American way! Although we might disagree with what someone says, we will defend to the death their right to say it! We were even taught that principle in the State’s own .edu factories. Freedom of speech has been a basic American value since the Enlightenment.

      But there’s a problem. A fly in the ointment. Yes, folks, there’s a problem, right here in River City. It seems that one side’s point of view gets overly censored by SJI’s censors. The SJI censors tend to censor one side’s views much more than they censor the other side’s. When they’re censoring, I mean. But they’re censoring for the common good, I should add.

      Our liberal friends censor conservatives’ comments because they know what’s best for everyone. They’re concerned, because some conservatives’ comments aren’t always best for people. Some of them just shouldn’t be seen. They could even be dangerous, like those guns. The guns that shoot people.

      And our society has become much better off since our liberal friends started running things. We can all see that we’re better off, right? They’re censoring certain points of view in our best interests, too. They’re doing it to protect us from dangerous conservative ideas. We ought to be thankful for their concern, because it shows they care about us. That’s why they green-light some comments, and censor others. But they only censor the dangerous thoughts. The rest are A-OK, even Sam’s.

      /sarc <–[that means 'end sarcasm' in blog-speak.]

      Here's a thought, SJI: make Free Speech your Top Priority. Even the knuckle-draggers will be able to figure out if someone has something worthwhile to say…

      …over to you, Sam.

  2. More of the nanny state of San Jose….. Welcome to the USSR comrades… Meanwhile I believe the SJPD is not capable on investigating burglaries with one detective assigned in a city of 1.1 million… #Yougetwhatyouaskfor

  3. > “… If suicide goes unaddressed, individuals will lose their lives.”

    Let me think about this.

    Don’t we need a study or something to see if there’s a connection between “suicide” and “individuals losing their lives”?

    I could probably knock out a study next week. I could even give the City a home town discount: $12.5 million, including leather binding and 5 extra copies.

    It’s my final offer.

  4. “But there’s no such rule for guns left at home. Doyle and Sykes said there’s “a compelling argument” for mandating some measure of theft prevention, whether that entails a secure container or a trigger lock.”

    I submit there is a second “compelling argument,” that being whether the government has any more right than does a burglar to violate the sanctity of a law-abiding person’s home. Say what you will about residential burglars, at least their intrusion is brief. But let the government in and you will never get them out. Understand this, Mr. Doyle’s “compelling argument” is constructed around the willingness of law-abiding residents to incriminate themselves to the authorities. This in a city in which illegal aliens, even those who’ve committed crimes in this country, are granted amnesty and protection from federal law enforcement.

    Raul Peralez, whose election to the council is beginning to resemble a celebrity facelift disaster, has apparently forgotten, or maybe he never knew, that a home is a secure container, protected by substantial structural elements, serious criminal penalties, and long-established social conventions. Perhaps the money spent by home owners on safety lighting, door and window locks, and other preventative measures (including police protection) is not enough for Mr. Peralez, who, like so many others seems to reject the concept that crimes are the work of criminals, not crime victims.

    Those of us who get by without ankle-monitors, probation officers, Obama phones, and medicinal marijuana cards are viewed by Progressives the same way personal injury lawyers view big corporations: as having pockets deep enough to pay without regard to culpability. It’s not enough that we already pay for protection from uninsured motorists, identity thieves, vandals, and slip-and-fall swindlers, these insatiable bureaucrats now want to hold us responsible for the undesirable outcomes of crimes committed against us. They would like us to believe that in a nation stocked with 300 million firearms a “compelling argument” exists for government oversight of your gun in your own home.

    In addition to manufacturers of gun safety devices, personal injury lawyers must be licking their chops at the prospect of bringing deep pockets to the traditionally sparse pickings associated with gun crimes. With a law like this on the books even a city attorney-class lawyer could convince a jury to look past a shooter’s savage behavior and empty pockets and reach into the deep pockets of the home owner, you know, the lawbreaker who recklessly left a pistol hidden in the bookcase of his unguarded home. Leave it to the likes of Raul Peralez and very soon some decent, taxpaying home owner will be transformed into a renter.

    • > Doyle and Sykes said there’s “a compelling argument” for mandating some measure of theft prevention.

      I have an idea: why not pass a law making theft illegal.

      That way, no additional laws need to be passed to make theft of a gun not in a safe in a private home illegal.

  5. Typical responses from dangerous & irresponsible right-wing gun owners. They have the right to turn their homes in to armories for “their protection” from criminals & the government,yet won’t do a damn thing to keep their guns out of the hands of those they fear the most. Their laissez faire attitude makes them a danger to their neighbors,their families & themselves if an angry relative gets their hands on an unsecured loaded weapon. In California driving is a privilege not a right & small children are required by law to be secured into car seats. But any idiot with an IQ approaching room temperature can stockpile guns & ammunition without taking any responsibility for its safekeeping whatsoever. This shouldn’t be a complicated issue & I’d like to offer a simple solution. If a stolen gun is used in the commission of a crime you find it’s legal owner & cut off their trigger finger. If a stolen gun is used to murder someone you take the legal owner out in the desert where you gut shoot them & leave them to bleed out. Tough love,maybe ? But the shoe is on the other foot when these law & order zealots are asked to take responsibility for their own reprehensible apathy & indifference toward their fellow man.
    Apparently having guns makes these insignificant imbeciles feel powerful & invincible,yet we all know the truth. Most of them are cowards who cower from their own shadows,are afraid of the dark & sleep with the lights on. They’re all tough guys when they’re threatening people with their guns & pissing their panties when they’re looking down the barrel themselves. Shooting a wild pig from a hundred yards away doesn’t make you a real man. Jumping out of a tree on to a wild pig’s back armed with nothing but a Buck knife,now that’s a real man. It’s time we start taking guns away from those too stupid or callous to be accountable for the consequences of ownership,before tens of thousands more are killed. Guns don’t kill people,people with guns kill people !

    • Since Mr. Waxman believes that personal safety is best achieved through disarming the public, let’s chip in and buy him an anytime pass on BART so he can personally experience how thugs, I mean teens, behave in public when presented with defenseless citizens. Of course, if he looks even half as deranged as the opinions he shares on this site they might avoid him out of fear of pestilence, nevertheless, imagine how they’d behave behind closed doors in your home should the lunatics get their way and turn every residence into a soft target.

      • I ride BART all the time. Unarmed! Either you must think I’m some kind of superhero, or you have to admit Waxman doesn’t sound nearly as deranged as you, Finfan.

        • You may ride BART all the time but you must not read the newspapers, otherwise you’d be aware of the recent unprecedented acts of criminal predation that have been perpetrated on unarmed BART passengers. A hoard of fifty or sixty “teens” robbing and beating entire carloads of innocent commuters? Numerous other robberies and assaults — so many as to prompt the BART police chief to install working cameras in every car and promise to beef-up his force.

          No, I don’t think you’re a superhero, but I do think you’re far more interested in protecting your failed political beliefs than you are in facing reality.

          Any of you not certain SANJOSE1971 is an idiot, I suggest you Google, “BART spike in crime”

      • I rode BART to work in San Francisco for years without any problems & never had the need to arm myself. I’ve worked in Oakland & Richmond & I’m not afraid of the dark or dark people. On the other hand being around people with loaded weapons including those in law enforcement scares the hell out of me. Bad things happen to good people everyday in a country where guns are so prevalent. Felons can’t buy guns from a licensed dealer,so where do they get them ? They can buy them from other criminals or from law-abiding gun owners. They can also steal them from law-abiding gun owners who don’t secure them where they’re stored. If you’re afraid to venture outdoors because bad people have guns,then by all means don’t leave your house. In countries like England & Australia where there are tighter restrictions on gun ownership these problems are virtually non-existent. You can’t have your cake & eat it too. If you’re in favor of the lack of common sense regulation of guns & gun ownership,then don’t be surprised when one is stuck in your face. And when it happens keep in mind that it was probably stolen from somebody just like you & that karma is a bitch. Of course if the NRA was a predominately black organization with millions of urban target shooters packing heat,the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment by the Supreme Court would be updated immediately. In America too many people have too many guns & with that in mind if something bad happens to you that’s just too damn bad. The proliferation of guns on our streets is solely the fault of gun advocates & it’s a shame that innocent people have to suffer the consequences of yours & their pathological recklessness.

        • “Gun crime offences in London surged by 42% in the last year, according to official statistics.
          The Met Police’s figures showed there were 2,544 gun crime offences from April 2016 to April 2017 compared to 1,793 offences from 2015 until 2016.”

          http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-39578500

          That’s the reality… here’s the view from Planet Waxman: “In countries like England & Australia where there are tighter restrictions on gun ownership these problems are virtually non-existent.”

  6. Herbie! You’re back! Wit and wisdom abounds! And there is much rejoicing with the sage and prophet-like postulations of our liberal hero! What do you command of us unworthy, unwashed and deplorable heathens oh great oracle?

  7. This is a little much. Government is getting to much into people’s lives. When I need you, I will call you, but until then, stop trying to assert your authority into the privacy of my home.

  8. From the article:

    The memo says:

    Officers at the scene would have the discretion, based on the totality of the circumstances, to take enforcement action.

    Hmmm-mm… The “totality”? That’s not TOO vague or broad, is it?

    Many years ago my house was broken into, but the thieves couldn’t take my dad’s expensive shortgun because it was in a safe. But it was taken anyway—by the police.

    An officer asked me if I had any guns in the house, and I foolishly said yes. He asked to see ‘them’. I said I only had one, and got it out of the safe at his request.

    The police took the shotgun with them. I was the victim, so I figure it would be easy to get it back…

    WRONG.

    It took me almost TWO YEARS to get the shotgun back. I repeatedly ran into a brick wall whenever I went to the police station and asked if I could have it back (now I know better, and what to do). One time, when I was at the station again to ask for my shotgun, the cop I was talking to asked me if he could buy it! (I suggested that he could buy his own from a dealer.)

    If this passed I see exactly what would happen in cases where a homeowner didn’t have a trigger lock on, or the gun in a safe—for whatever reason. That homeowner would have an easier time pulling the teeth of a rabid hyena than he would trying to get his property back.

    Even now a homeowner would have to be nuts or totally naive to tell the cops he had a legal gun. Anyone ignorant of the ongoing Civil Asset Forfeiture abuses needs to do a simple search of that term, and they’ll see that the police can simply confiscate money, weapons, vehicles, and anything if they suspect those may have been used in an illegal drug transaction. No trial necessary, no guilty plea—just a cop’s suspicion is enough. Most folks would probably just give up, rather than getting a lawyer and going to court over a $400 gun.

    http://tiny.cc/zeyeoy

    The frog is in the water, people. And the water is simmering. But the water is so warm, and… safe. It feels good, doesn’t it? It certainly isn’t boiling yet…

    From the Sultan Knish blog (Daniel Greenfield):

    Gun control isn’t a policy. It’s a moral panic. Like prohibition, it’s a xenophobic reaction to a different culture that shares the same country with them. Guns have come to embody a rural conservative culture in the minds of urban leftists the way that alcohol once embodied foreign immigrants to prohibition activists and the way that drugs represented urban decadence to rural America.

    It’s why the “common sense solution” talk quickly gives way to broad denunciations of a “national gun culture”, of “white privilege”, of rural folk “clinging to their bibles and guns”, of American militarism and toxic masculinity, and of all the things for which guns are merely a symbol to the leftists who hate them.

    All these laws make criminals where there weren’t any. And that’s all they do. They don’t prevent crime, they create it. More laws, more criminals. It can’t be any other way. To gun control activists, gun owners are criminals, and there aren’t yet enough laws to prosecute them all.

    And from the Woodpile Report <–(which in general would make Herb Waxman's head explode):

    The whole purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep our right of self defense off the table. How is it different with gun control? It isn’t. It’s more infringement, plain and simple. It gets filed with the rest of the gun control laws, because that’s what it is… if you’re entrusted and funded to defend a principle, you defend it, and all that flows from it. Not just the popular parts. Not just the parts easiest to defend.

    Maybe with the new pro-2nd Amendment Justice on the Supreme Court things will begin to get back to normal.

  9. A Tale of Two Cities, by frustrated finfan

    Meet Joe, a native Californian who has called the police to his home to report a burglary. “A pistol was taken?” asks the officer investigating. “How was it stored… was in in a drawer, under your mattress, or what?” Joe, unaware that the officer has stopped investigating the burglary and is now investigating him, unsuspectingly replies, “Actually it was on a closet shelf. I can’t believe they found it.” As a resident of the San Jose that holds people accountable to the law, Joe’s admission gets him charged with a crime.

    Meet Jose, a twice deported native of Chihuahua who is again in the U.S. and desperate to conceal his illegal status. As a resident of the San Jose that protects people from the law, Jose takes advantage of the city’s immigrant affairs website, where he is directed to a website* that boldly advises him, among other things, that he has “the right to remain silent”… and “may refuse to speak to immigration officers.”

    This is what our progressive enemies on the council, along with the lapdog police chief, believe constitutes fair and just treatment. They stand ready to aid and abet federal lawbreakers, and just as ready to deceive and prosecute crime victims.

    NOTE TO ALL BURGLARY VICTIMS: When reporting a gun theft, provide the investigator (officer or CSO) with the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, but say nothing about where or how it had been stored. The police cannot compel you to provide additional details, nor can they enter or inspect any part of your home without a search warrant or your permission.

    *https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/everyone-has-certain-basic-rights/

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