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California legislators advance bill requiring state-approved gun storage safes

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(The Center Square) – The California Senate approved a bill requiring guns to be stored in a California Department of Justice-approved safe or lock box. The bill faces the California Assembly Public Safety Committee on June 11.

SB 53, authored by State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, would enter effect on July 1, 2025, and is designed to “ensure responsible and safe firearm storage practices and save lives by enhancing California’s strong system of gun violence prevention regulations through explicit standards for secure gun storage for all gun owners.”

The bill imposes up to $500 fine for the first violation, misdemeanor charges and a one-year ban on firearm possession and purchase for the second and subsequent violations. Those found in violation of the one-year ban could face a wobbler — either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Under current California law, guns must either be in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock if it is not being carried on person.

California has some of the most stringent firearm laws in the nation, including 10-bullet limits on gun magazines and an “assault weapons” ban that precludes the use of many external features such as foregrips and folding stocks. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is set to rule on the state’s ban on standard-capacity magazines in the coming months, while a ruling on the state’s “assault weapons” ban is likely to follow.

The bill cites a 2019 U.S. Department of Homeland Security report on school shootings finding that “76 percent of attackers who used firearms to commit violence in schools obtained the firearms from their parents’ home or the home of another close relative” and that “In half of those cases, the evidence indicated that the firearm was either readily accessible or not secured in a meaningful way.”

Opponents maintain SB 53 would likely be found unconstitutional on the basis of Heller v DC, in which the United States Supreme Court wrote, “the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”

If passed, SB 53 would require storage in a CA DOJ-approved safe, which must have at least 10,000 possible combinations, be protected by drill-hardened steel or its equivalent, and have three steel locking bolts at least half an inch thick. For a standard Model 1911 pistol, which has been in use since World War I, there are three approved safes: The Anker T7400 and T7401, and the Shot Lock Handgun Solo-Vault 200M. The T7400 is no longer widely available online and has been replaced by the $99.99 T7401, while the Handgun Solo-Vault 200 costs $189.

Other states, such as Rhode Island and Minnesota, are advancing or have passed similar gun storage laws this year.