The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring residents to securely store their firearms and ammo in order to prevent theft.
City Council members voted 7-0 in favor of ordinance 23-22 on Wednesday. The measure would amend city code to penalize people who leave a loaded or unloaded firearm in a vehicle or other location where unauthorized people could take it. It would not apply to people who take "reasonable action" to lock their gun and keep ammunition where others can't access it.
Mayor Melvin Carter supports the measure, and said previously that he plans to sign it into law.
"This ordinance is a sensible step that will help reduce the number of stolen guns we experience in our city," Carter said in a statement. "I applaud the city council for their action today and look forward to signing the ordinance into law."
The law will go into effect about 30 days after Carter signs it.
Residents voiced support for and opposition to the measure during hearings leading up to Wednesday's vote. Some said the ordinance would disarm residents, break Minnesota law and breach the Second Amendment. Others said proper gun storage could have saved the lives of a family killed with stolen weapons.
Such testimony moved Council Member Jane Prince, who said Wednesday that gun storage can also prevent suicide.
"The public hearing that we had for this issue was some of the most powerful testimony I've ever heard — and compelling," Prince said. "It just made its so clear that this is a really important vote that we can make."
In a previous hearing on the measure, St. Paul Police Department Deputy Chief Paul Ford agreed the ordinance could prevent unsecured weapons from being used in violent crimes or suicides.
At least 227 firearms were reported stolen in St. Paul by the middle of last year, according to Ford. Nearly half of those guns were stolen from vehicles.