Proposed Firearm Storage Ordinance
The Saratoga City Council has considered proposed regulations for storage and reporting lost/stolen firearms. The proposed ordinance would require firearms to be stored in a locked container or disabled with a safety device when they are not in the immediate control or possession of the owner at home. Additionally, lost or stolen firearms would need to be reported to law enforcement within 48 hours.
A Community Meeting was held on May 29 to answer questions and receive input.The City Council then considered the regulations at the June 20 City Council meeting. You can view the June 20 meeting agenda, including the staff report and draft ordinance. At the meeting, the City Council directed staff to revisit the item. This page will be updated when more information is available.
You can also submit feedback by completing this comment form or emailing the City Council. All comments collected from the Community Meeting, comment form, and email will be shared with the City Council at the June 20 City Council meeting.
Proposed Sections of the Saratoga City Code
Article 6-35 – Firearms.
6-35.010 Storage of Firearms in a Residence.
Except when carried on his or her person, or in his or her immediate control and possession, no person shall keep a firearm (as defined in California Penal Code 16520 or as amended) in any residence owned or controlled by that person unless the firearm is stored in a locked container (as defined in California Penal Code 16850 or as amended) or the firearm is disabled with a safety device that is listed on the California Department of Justice’s roster of approved firearm safety devices.
6-35.020 Reporting Lost or Stolen Firearms.
Any person who owns or possesses a firearm (as defined in California Penal Code 16520 or as amended) shall report the theft or loss of the firearm to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office within forty-eight (48) hours of the time he or she determined or reasonably should have known that the firearm had been lost or stolen, whenever: (1) that person resides in the City of Saratoga; or (2) the theft or loss of the firearm occurs in the City of Saratoga.
California Penal Code References:
- California Penal Code 16520 defines “firearm” as a device, designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion.
- California Penal Code 16850 defines a “locked container” as a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock, combination lock, or similar locking device. The term “locked container” does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the purpose of this ordinance?
The Saratoga City Council chose to consider these regulations as a proactive effort to firearm safety within the Saratoga community. The ordinance is intended to prevent firearm-related injuries and violence by reducing access to firearms by those who should not be in possession, such as children or criminals.
2. Why is Saratoga considering a mandatory 48 hour reporting period for lost or stolen firearms versus the State of California’s 120 hour reporting period?
Earlier notification of lost or stolen firearms would make law enforcement officials better equipped to immediately identify them during the course of an investigation. The ordinance proposes a 48 hour reporting period to provide an opportunity for early identification and to reduce the chance of lost or stolen firearms being used in additional crimes. Possession of a stolen firearm can also be an enhancement to other charges.
Alerting the Sheriff’s Office as quickly as possible also allows Deputies to better patrol neighborhoods in the vicinity of the theft or loss. In addition, knowledge of a theft or loss can help Deputies in investigating crimes involving firearms; the sooner Deputies have this information the more effective their investigations can be.
This reporting time period is comparable to neighboring communities with similar regulations, including Sunnyvale (48 hours) and San Jose (24 hours).
3. How will the City of Saratoga interpret “in his or her immediate control and possession?”
Typically, an arm’s length distance is used as an indicator of “his or her immediate control and possession.” The application can depend on a number of factors, and each incident would need to be evaluated by officials who would consider all involved circumstances and facts.
4. How would these regulations be enforced and what would be the penalties?
The City of Saratoga would not proactively seek violations and enforcement opportunities. If a violation is discovered during the course of another investigation, the ordinance would be enforced as appropriate. A violation of these regulations would be an infraction, which could be subject to a warning or administrative citation.
5. Would these regulations only apply in Saratoga?
Yes, all sections of the Saratoga City Code are only applicable and enforceable within the City of Saratoga.
6. Can you provide statistics or information about firearm violence and the importance of reporting lost or stolen firearms?
Please see the Additional Resources section above.