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Santa Barbara Safe Storage Gun Ordinance

A look into the firearm safe storage gun ordinance proposed by the Santa Barbara Youth Council.
Members+of+the+Youth+Council+listening+to+Moms+Demand+Action+representative.+
Members of the Youth Council listening to Moms Demand Action representative.
Members of Moms Demand Action at Youth Speak Out.

More than 4.6 million children live in a house with an unlocked, loaded gun that have lead to the 377 accidental shootings by children in 2023. 

The April 2023 Youth Speak Out at Santa Barbara City Council consisted of students, City council members, and community members; the realization within this meeting was that gun safety was the most prominent issue for youth throughout the community. 

This resulted in the Santa Barbara Youth Council drafting a firearm safe storage ordinance. 

Amelia Vander May, Chair of the Safe Firearm Ordinance ad hoc subcommittee, shares the steps required to write the ordinance: 

“Our ordinance subcommittee wrote the ordinance with assistance from City Attorney, Rich Hanna, and Assistant City Attorney, John Doimas, as well as our advisor [Nicole Morgan]. We approved the ordinance as a council during a meeting in City Hall where Tiago [Tiago Eckstein, Chair of Youth Council] and I presented the ordinance to the rest of the Youth Council, as well as heard public comment from members of the community. Currently, the ordinance is being reviewed by the City Council Ordinance Committee, and we are hoping it gets passed in January 2024,” Amelia said. 

For the Youth Council members, a crucial part of writing the ordinance was the definition section. 

“The definition section of the ordinance was very important to us because we had to decide what the rules and regulations would be, and it is important to have a strong definition section in case the law needs to be enforced,” Lucia Camp, member of Youth Council, said. 

The national organization, Moms Demand Action, has a chapter in Santa Barbara, and they played a significant role in advocating for safe gun storage at the November meeting in the Santa Barbara City Council Chambers, where Youth Council passed the ordinance.  

“In the spring of this year, I gave a presentation to the Youth Council about Moms Demand Action and what we were doing to end gun violence. I mentioned that we had been petitioning the City Council for several years, trying to get a safe storage ordinance passed. The Youth Council took it upon themselves to put this ordinance forward, and I am so grateful for their voice,” leader of local Moms Demand Action group, Kendall Pata said. 

The Santa Barbara Unified School District reported an increase in weapon-related incidents on school campuses in 2023. 

“We’ve gotten to a point where school shootings aren’t out of the ordinary — even Santa Barbara has recently experienced shootings at UCSB and false alarms at many of our local high schools. I think one thing almost all young people can relate to is living with a constant fear of experiencing a school shooting — we’re always thinking about where we would hide, where our friends would be, who we would contact — and that’s something no one should have to be afraid of, especially kids,” Amelia said. 

If this ordinance passes, families who own a gun are required to secure it safely in their home in a locked container with a trigger lock. 

“We know that youth who obtain firearms are not doing so legally. Up to 80% of school shooters obtain their firearm from home or from the home of a friend or relative. Just storing your firearm locked and out of the hands of our youth prevents gun violence,” Pata said. 

If the safe gun storage ordinance is passed, the risk of self-inflicted harm from guns is estimated to decrease by 78%. Additionally, the risk of children and teens accidentally injuring themselves would decrease by 85%. 

“I think this ordinance is a great step forward to make students feel more safe in Santa Barbara,” senior Lucia said. 

The Carpinteria and Goleta City Councils already implemented safe storage gun ordinances. 

However, it still has not been incorporated in the City of Santa Barbara, which this ordinance aims to address. The goal of this ordinance is to take action to make Santa Barbara schools safer than they previously have been. 

“Unsecured firearms lead to higher rates of accidental and intentional deaths by firearm, many of which are children and teens. It also makes firearm theft easier. This issue is preventable with the right legislation in place. Having a safe storage ordinance will lower firearm theft and prevent youth from accessing unsecured firearms at home, both of which contribute to preventing mass shootings in our community,” Amelia said. 

Nicole Morgan, Recreation Specialist and Youth Council Advisor, explains the events that will occur next: 

“This meeting ran smoothly and was an incredible success for Youth Council and for the community. Next steps include a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, at 4 PM in the City Council Chambers.” 

The Youth Council is a division of the Parks and Recreation Committee, and will present the ordinance to the City Council and the Mayor in January 2024. 

By the end of that month, the ordinance will likely be ratified and written into the legal code. 

“Creating this project is part of the reason I joined Youth Council. I’ve always been passionate about finding solutions to gun violence, but I think over the last few years, with the huge increase we’ve seen in mass shootings — especially school shootings — it has become a top priority for me,” Amelia said.

The goal of advocating for safe gun storage is that people will be able to leave their homes without having an underlying fear of experiencing gun violence. 

“Seeing how much unsafely stored firearms affect young people and communities as a whole is terrifying, so getting this ordinance passed and being a part of the solution to gun violence in Santa Barbara would mean the world to me,” Amelia said. 

The Youth Council’s involvement in passing this safe storage ordinance has not gone unnoticed by those who are passionate about stopping gun violence. 

“Our youth are the bravest people in America. Every day, they go to school not knowing if they will experience violence. I want everyone to know how brave our students and teachers are. It’s their voices that will make lasting change in this fight to end gun violence,” Pata said. 

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About the Contributor
Christiana Cino, Co Opinion Editor
Christiana is a senior and this is her second year on the Fourth Estate staff. She is the Co-Opinion Editor and mainly writes in the Opinion Section. The topics she is passionate about include women's rights, DEI issues, mental health, and gun violence. While a majority of her articles are in the Opinion Section, she often enjoys writing in the feature section as well. Outside of class, Christiana finds joy in baking and doing ceramics.
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