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Gun Owners In King County Could Face Fines For Not Safely Storing Firearms

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Minot Air Force Base
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If you own a gun in unincorporated King County, you could soon face a fine if it isn't properly stored away. The King County Council is considering a law requiring safe storage of firearms. Seattle has passed a similar law.

The fine being considered by the King County Council for failing to keep your gun in a lock box or gun safe could be as much as $1,000.

Councilman Joe McDermott says gun owners would receive a warning before being fined.  He says the point is to save lives, whether it's the lives of children or victims of domestic violence.

"An unsecured firearm can be easily accessed and increase the chance that that gun is used in a tragic way," he said.

McDermott, who is a sponsor of the proposed ordinance, points out that a lot of gun deaths are suicides, the result of someone in crisis getting ahold of an unlocked gun in a home. 

King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert voted against the proposal in committee. She says for people in the rural part of the county, such an ordinance is burdensome. 

"We teach our children how to shoot, hunt, skeet shoot and how to respect the guns that are in their home as well as in their friends and neighbor's homes," Lambert said.

She says it's also unnecessary for King County to act since since people across the state are voting on Initiative 1639 this election. The initiative includes a provision for safe gun storage.

In King County, the safe gun storage proposal is part of a package of laws aimed at reducing gun deaths. The full council is expected to vote on it later this month.