Democratic County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell says that while people have a Second Amendment right to own guns, they also have a responsibility to safely and securely store them.
This morning, Flagler-Mitchell released legislation that would require Monroe County gun owners to either store their firearms in locked, tamper-resistant cases and safes or secure them with tamper-proof locking devices, such as trigger locks. It would also require gun owners to immediately report any firearm or ammunition theft to law enforcement.
"I believe that responsibility should be enshrined in the county code," Flagler-Mitchell says.
The proposal is meant to cut off a source of crime guns in the City of Rochester. Approximately 60 percent of the crime guns recovered by the Rochester Police Department were, at some point, legally owned within Monroe County, department officials have said. Many of the guns were stolen during burglaries.
Flagler-Mitchell plans to introduce the legislation by the end of the week. But if the referral passes — and odds are that Republicans will reject the proposal — enforcement could be a challenge. Flagler-Mitchell acknowledges that police and sheriff's deputies can't simply enter gun owners' homes and to see if their guns are locked up.
Most firearm owners want to be safe, he says, and want to follow gun laws.
Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews says that the proposal would help increase awareness around secure storage of firearms, which could help prevent thefts.
Flagler-Mitchell says that he's introducing the legislation in response to continued gun violence nationally and locally, particularly the recent mass shootings in the city: one at the Boys and Girls Club on Genesee Street and one at a house party on Woodward Street. Flagler-Mitchell's cousin, Herbert Thomas, was killed in the house party shooting — he was one of six people struck by the shooter.
"I cannot deny the pain of my family and say that I really do want to do something to change this," Flagler-Mitchell says.