GILBERT, Ariz. — Turning their grief into action, Bruce and Claire Petillo hope a proposed gun storage law named after their deceased son will prevent future tragedies.
“I think most people agree if you own a gun it should be properly stored," Bruce Petillo said on Tuesday from his Gilbert home.
350 Unintentional Fatal Shootings Each Year By Children
In September 2021, the Petillos’ son Christian was shot in the chest while at a friend's house where a gun was not locked up. Christian was a 15-year-old sophomore at Casteel High School in Queen Creek.
“We never thought it could happen to us and it did,” Bruce said.
According to the gun safety advocacy group, Everytown, more than half of guns in the US are not properly locked and stored. Among gunfire incidents on school grounds, 80% of minors obtained the gun from home or an acquaintance’s house. 350 gun deaths each year involve children under 18 unintentionally firing a gun at themselves or someone else.
“Christian’s Law” would require gun owners to keep either ammunition or guns in a locked storage container, or to secure their firearms with a device that would render them inoperable without a combination or a key.
Under the current version of the bill, gunowners found to violate the law would be fined $1,000.
“I believe this law does not infringe on Second Amendment rights. You can own guns, just be a responsible gun owner," Claire Petillo said, comparing the law to seatbelt requirements in cars.
Eight states and several cities have laws mandating owners secure or lock their firearms to keep them out of reach of children.
Democrat Jennifer Longdon is Bill’s Sponsor
The Petillos met with a bipartisan group of state lawmakers on Monday. Democrat State Representative Jennifer Longdon is sponsoring the bill.
“This is one of those data-driven, common sense solutions,” Longdon said. Longdon has met with the group Moms Demand Action and an Arizona sheriff about the bill. It’s unknown if any Republicans, who hold slim majorities in both chambers, are willing to support the proposal.
Gun safety advocates have also proposed a similar federal law.
“No Do Overs” Website
The Petillos also launched the website NoDoOvers.org, dedicated to promoting gun safety with technology and through mass media.
"It’s not just about legislation. We're looking at this from an advocacy perspective, an education perspective," Bruce Petillo said. “We couldn't sit by, knowing the statistics. There will be another child and another family going through this. And another, and another, and another."
Critics of gun storage laws have expressed concern they would be unable to access a firearm quickly enough during an emergency.
New technology such as biometric fingerprint trigger locks provide gun owners more options than ever to conveniently lock and store guns, the Petillos said.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.
More ways to get 12News
On your phone: Download the 12News app for the latest local breaking news straight to your phone.
On your streaming device: Download 12News+ to your streaming device
The free 12News+ app from 12News lets users stream live events — including daily newscasts like "Today in AZ" and "12 News" and our daily lifestyle program, "Arizona Midday"—on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
12News+ showcases live video throughout the day for breaking news, local news, weather and even an occasional moment of Zen showcasing breathtaking sights from across Arizona.