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Feb 3, 2014 12:47 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Arizona gun lock law proposed by Tucson lawmaker

TUCSON - A state representative is proposing a law requiring adults to lock up loaded guns.

Victoria Steele of Legislative District 9 said she grew up in a home where her dad locked the guns away, separate from the ammunition.

"To me, this is common sense. This is a no-brainer," Steele said. "We've got to keep children from having access to loaded firearms."

House Bill 2542 only applies to homes where a "minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the minor's parent or guardian." A parent can be charged with a felony if their child shoots somebody.

The Democrat hopes the Republican controlled House of Representatives will give her bill a chance.

"There are some that would probably back off when they hear the word ‘gun,'" Steele said. "And they don't want to touch it because it's too sensitive. But we're legislators. We're leaders."

The law only applies to loaded guns. A gun carried by an adult or locked in a safe would be legal.

Ken Rineer with Gun Owners of Arizona said it is not always smart to lock away a home's "safety."

"If 3 or 4 people come busting through my front door, I can't run to my safe and turn the dial and unlock it," Rineer said. "By that time, say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, guys.' That's just not going to happen."

He believes parents with toddlers and very young children need to be careful, but education is more effective as kids get older.

"Today's children have no exposure, other than Hollywood, to what firearms are. They spend no time on the range. Schools don't have shooting clubs anymore like when I grew up," Rineer said. "Why not a tax credit for a gun safe? Let's try that. Let's try education. How about a children's day at the range? This is all stuff we can do. Education is the key."

In December 2013, a 3-year-old in Sahuarita found a gun and killed himself. Steele said 32 Arizona kids died from guns in 2012, and most of those deaths were preventable.

There were 120,859 unintentional deaths nationwide in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Transport accidents (mostly cars) were the leading cause with 37,961. Accidental shootings killed 606.

Of all homicides between 1980 and 2008, children under the age of 14 committed 0.05 percent, according to the Department of Justice.

Steele said her law would also prevent suicides, which are mostly committed with guns. Suicide attempts are deadlier when a firearm is used. She also said it might stop a frustrated teen from taking a gun to school.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has free gun locks available the Ward VI Office at 3202 East First Street. Project ChildSafe also gives away free locks throughout Arizona.

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