The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday approved in concept an ordinance that would require gun owners within city limits to safely store them.

Watsonville Municipal code does not currently regulate residential storage of firearms. 

If the ordinance is passed during second reading at a future meeting, it would require gun owners to either store them in a locked container, or put on a trigger lock. In addition, they would have to report if their firearm is lost or stolen within 48 hours.

It excludes police officers, and when the gun is in the immediate control of the owner. Unloaded antique firearms are also excluded.

City Attorney Samantha Zutler said that many cities throughout California have adopted similar ordinances.

This includes Morgan Hill, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Saratoga. 

Watsonville’s new rule goes further than state law, which requires safe storage for guns only if they are accessible by children or people prohibited from having them, Zutler added.

Violations would be to be handled as an administrative, civil, or criminal matter.

While the ordinance would not allow a law enforcement official to enter a residence solely to check for safe storage, they do so in conjunction with another incident, Watsonville Police Chief Joege Zamora said.

“If we go to a home on a call and we happen to come across a firearm that is not secured properly, then that would be a violation of the municipal code,” he said. 

It is not yet clear how much the penalty will be for violators. A municipal code violation is typically $45, while unlawfully discharging a gun in the city nets a $150 penalty, Zamora said. But the fine is not the point, he added. 

“The goal here is not to make money off of this, but to educate folks,” Zamora said. 

Councilman Jimmy Dutra brought the proposed ordinance to the board. 

“We’re living in a time where we’re seeing young people have a bad day, they get a hold of their parents’ gun and they make decisions that could affect their lives forever, they could take their own lives,” he said. “This is something very simple that could save even one life. It’s being responsible.”

Before passing the ordinance, the council added tents and tent-like structures to what defines a residence after Councilwoman Ari Parker asked whether homeless camps would fall under the rules. Not doing so, she said, would be discounting a whole group of people.

“I would think that would be helpful to everyone,” she said.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


  1. This new ordinance sounds pretty ridiculous to me and for you guys to state that there has been a increase of young people getting ahold of their parents firearms and doing something they would regret or change their life forever is a outright lie and I will not stand for this and i will be organizing a petition to put a stop to this because it infringing on our rights and our rights to protect ourselves and families because if someone were to break in to my house im not going to say hold on let me unlock my gun before you harm me or my family because it would be to late and myself or my family could be harmed or killed because the cops sure as hell won’t be there in time to protect us and in the state of California I have rights to protect my family at any cost because we live in a stand your ground state as much as you guys don’t like that it’s a true fact so I will be protesting this new ordinance

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  2. With all the problems the city is facing, you would think the city should be looking at preventing thefts, homelessness, drug abuse in our city would be a higher priority
    for our council members.

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  3. Glad I open carry. We need more guns in law abiding citizens hands, not less.

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  4. I think this proposal violates the 2nd amendment right to bear arms for self defense in the home (see U.S. Supreme Court decision in Heller) and in non-senseitive public places. And, there is no history that the placement or storage of firearms in the home was generally unlawful and regulated at the time the 2nd amendment was passed, which is necessary for such a law to be valid under the requirements of the U.S. Supreme in Buren. Interesting how they claim this Watsonville ordinance is necessary to protect “children” here, where state law already does so. This is probably setting the City up to get sued if they passed & enforced such a law. Not very smart.

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