SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Attorney's Office Thursday urged families with guns in the home to practice proper firearm safety while self-quarantining to keep the weapons out of the hands of children.

With stay-at-home orders issued at the state and local levels, and schools closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, City Attorney Mara Elliott's office said gun safety is paramount.

"When you have guns and children in the home and do not practice safe storage, you are increasing the risk that someone will be accidentally shot," Elliott said. "Children are very resourceful when it comes to locating things their parents thought they'd never find. When they find a gun, it often leads to tragedy."

The city's Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance, which was authored by Elliott and went into effect last year, requires San Diego gun owners to store firearms in a locked container or to secure guns with a trigger lock unless they are in the immediate control of an authorized user.

The City Attorney's Office said trigger locks and gun safes are readily available for purchase online and that all guns sold in California after Jan. 1, 2002, were required to come with a free trigger lock.

Elliott's office said 4.5 million children nationwide live in homes with one more loaded and unlocked firearms.

Local gun stores nationwide have seen an uptick in firearm sales amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it remains unclear whether gun stores might be ordered to close locally.

In one of the county's coronavirus-related briefings, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said firearm stores were not considered an essential business that should remain open per the state's stay-at-home order.

Earlier this week, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said his office was awaiting further guidance from the governor's office, and would not force gun stores to close in the meantime, citing a concern that doing so would push consumers to purchase guns on the black market. 

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