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Eastpointe council to vote on measure to prevent unsecured firearms in vehicles

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 8, 2019

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EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council will vote on an ordinance amendment that would make it a punishable offense to leave a firearm unsecured in a vehicle.

The measure came after several weapons were reported stolen out of vehicles in Eastpointe throughout 2019. Eastpointe law enforcement officers wanted to crack down on what they call a dangerous situation.

“We’re trying to create an ordinance to make it a civil infraction on the first offense to leave your gun in an unlocked car,” said Department of Public Safety Director George Rouhib. “The second offense would be a misdemeanor. You have to be accountable for your weapon.”

The council performed the first reading of the proposal at its regular meeting Oct. 1. It will perform the second reading and vote on the measure at its upcoming regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The measure would dictate that anyone who leaves a gun in an unlocked car, that is not secured in a locked container, would be in violation of this proposed ordinance.

“It imposes fines on people who leave a gun in their vehicle and don’t have it locked or secured in a container or compartment,” explained Mayor Pro Tem Michael Klinefelt. “For example, someone who puts it in the center console or glove box of your car, but it doesn’t lock, and the car is unlocked, would be in violation of this. You need to take measures to prevent people from stealing the gun.”

Rouhib said the issue is a relevant one to Eastpointe residents, as the theft of unsecured weapons from vehicles has been a recurring issue.

“We’ve had at least 10 guns stolen out of cars this year,” he said. “You can’t leave a gun lying on a kitchen counter if kids are in the house, (so) you can’t leave it in your car where anybody could take it. … What happens is, if someone steals a gun out of your car, it can get into the wrong hands. It could be used in anything from armed robberies to felonious assaults to school shootings.”

Although Klinefelt said he supports the measure, he raised the concern that this could amount to punishing people who were already the victims of a crime.

“This comes to our attention normally when a victim of theft comes to us, and I wanted to acknowledge that,” he said. “I want to recognize they are the victims of a crime, but we want to stress how important it is to secure your guns.”

Rouhib addressed further concerns that this would prevent people from reporting their weapons getting stolen.

“Some people might say they just won’t report it stolen then, but you are obligated by law to report a stolen gun within five days of the theft,” Rouhib explained. “This is so we can have a record of it and run the serial number if the gun is recovered or used in a crime.”

There will be no formal public hearing on the matter at the Oct. 15 meeting, although Klinefelt said residents are free to voice their opinions on the matter during the public comment portion at the beginning of the meeting.

“I think the ordinance we discussed will place some responsibility on gun owners when they have failed to secure it properly,” he remarked. “Hopefully, this will prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. 

Klinefelt went on to say that he believes there needs to be proactive action taken to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

“This is a proactive step to ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, to encourage gun owners to act responsibly,” said Klinefelt. “As of now, I am in favor of voting for this measure at the next meeting.”

Rouhib wanted the public to know this was not meant in any way to make owning a gun more difficult; he simply wants to ensure that those who elect to own a gun are doing so in a safe and responsible manner.

“We believe in Second Amendment rights, but you have to be accountable for your weapon,” he said. “You don’t leave a gun in your car. There’s no reason to leave it there overnight, especially if it’s unlocked.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.