Existing state law makes it a crime for gun owners to store a loaded firearm somewhere they know a child is likely to gain access to it.
In addition, Senate Bill 172, approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, expanded that law to make it applicable to all firearms, loaded or unloaded, and imposes a 10-year ban on owning guns for those convicted of violating the law.
It's been left up to jurisdictions, however, to legislate whether firearm owners in all households should be required to safely store their guns when not in use.
A number of cities and San Mateo County have taken similar steps to implement this requirement. Last February, the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to require firearm owners who live in unincorporated areas of the county and keep their guns at home to keep them in a locked container or disable them with a trigger lock.
The ordinance has a caveat: People who report the loss or theft of a firearm to law enforcement within five days of knowing it was missing are not prosecuted.
At the time, county officials reported that there had been 301 gun-related deaths in the county over the past 10 years, and cited a 2008 report in the New England Journal of Medicine that concluded that living in a home where guns are kept increases an individual's risk of death by homicide by 40% to 170%.
Combs' idea has already gained some traction among community members voicing support for the ordinance through the City Council's email inbox.
Leah Elkins of Peninsula Moms Demand Action, an advocacy organization opposed to gun violence, wrote: "The County ordinance was motivated by the need to close the gaps in state law which provides an unclear definition of 'secure storage' and does nothing to prevent access to guns by thieves, suicidal persons, those suffering temporary mental crises or those with dementia. Such laws have already been adopted locally by Burlingame, San Carlos, Foster City, Portola Valley and Redwood City."
Priyanka Rajagopalan wrote: "I am writing to let you know that as a longtime Menlo Park resident, my neighbors and I strongly support laws that will keep us and our loved ones safe from gun violence. A secure storage law which closes the loopholes in California state law is one way we can do that."
Combs said he favors a civil penalty for violations of the ordinance instead of criminal charges.
Access additional gun safety information at the California attorney general's website at oag.ca.gov/firearms/tips.
This story contains 474 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.