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Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird on Wednesday warned gun owners to keep unattended firearms out of vehicles despite a new city ordinance that allows it.

The mayor announced she has signed the ordinance requiring guns left in vehicles be out of sight and the car doors locked. 

City Councilman Roy Christensen had initially proposed a measure that would have required unattended guns in vehicles to be locked in a glove box, trunk or secure case. 

But he amended the ordinance over concerns about how hunting rifles could be transported or how the ordinance could apply to pickups. 

The change required only that guns left in vehicles be hidden and doors locked.

It passed unanimously 6-0 on Oct. 28. But Gaylor Baird said she waited to sign it until Wednesday, the last day she could have vetoed it. 

"An unattended firearm left inside a motor vehicle is a risk to the safety of every person in Lincoln," the mayor said. "While I supported the original ordinance, after careful deliberation, I have decided to sign the amended one as an incremental step forward." 

While the mayor acknowledged the new law doesn't satisfy members of a local gun control group, she believes the ordinance gives police a means to detect if a gun was stored illegally in a car. 

The city had previously banned storing guns in vehicles for longer than 24 hours, but police and prosecutors said it was difficult to determine whether the law had been violated and it was never enforced. 

If data shows a spike in gun thefts from cars within the next year, Gaylor Baird and her staff can reassess whether this ordinance and other new gun policies are working.

Christensen's measure was the second gun ordinance approved by the new council. 

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Council Chair Jane Raybould's ordinance requiring gun thefts be reported within 48 hours of discovery also passed on a unanimous vote in September. 

Also at the Wednesday news conference, the mayor announced the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office has free gun locks to give to people who register for a firearm purchase permit or who ask for a lock. 

The 600 trigger locks were donated by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

The Child Access to Firearms/Safe Storage Task Force issued a report this summer suggesting trigger locks could be made available. 

The task force was created by former Mayor Chris Beutler in response to calls from gun control advocates for a city law requiring all unattended guns be locked up. 

Gaylor Baird also said there will be a public education campaign and the Lincoln Police Department will offer weapon safety training courses.

As mayor, she’s most worried about “blood on the streets.”

Mass shootings are far too common in America, and the job of mayor now asks those holding it to think through how they would lead their city through such a tragedy, Gaylor Baird said.

“I don’t want to wake up one day and wished we’d done more,” she said. “I don’t want to wake up one day and have to console grieving families.”

Gun safety ordinances and local policies are just one way the city protects public safety, the mayor said.

“But this is a sensitive issue, and we need to continue to persevere in a way that we can bring people together because so much depends upon it.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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