Edmonds sued over safe storage of guns ordinance

NRA and Second Amendment Foundation also sued City of Seattle
By Brian Soergel | Aug 07, 2018

The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association on Tuesday sued the City of Edmonds for violating the state's 35-year-old preemption statute by adopting a local gun-control ordinance.

On July 24, the Edmonds City Council overwhelmingly approved an ordinance governing the safe storage of firearms, with only Councilmember Kristiana Johnson voting against – not because she opposed the need for tighter gun controls, but because she said she preferred to see if a citizens’ effort, Initiative 1639, makes the November ballot.

The ballot is indeed part of the general election in November. If approved, it would raise the purchase age to 21 for people buying semi-automatic weapons, among other restrictions.

Introduced by Council President Mike Nelson, the safe-storage ordinance requires gun owners to lock up their guns when they aren’t in use.

Failure to do so could result in a fine between $500 and $1,000. In addition, should a prohibited or at-risk person or minor obtain an unsecured firearm and use it to commit a crime, the gun owner could be fined up to $10,000.

“No legal challenge will stop us from protecting our children from gun violence,” Nelson said in a request for comment from the Beacon. “I believe we have passed an ordinance that fits within our city’s lawful authority. If one child’s life can be saved because a firearm was safely stored, then that is a law we should all be proud of.”

Even though only state and federal elected officials have the power to adequately address gun violence, Edmonds City Councilmember Thomas Mesaros said on July 24 that he and his fellow councilmembers had an opportunity “to make a statement.”

Even though state law says Washington cities can’t regulate guns, local officials believe requiring safe storage will reduce the chances of stolen guns entering the black market, as well as reduce suicides and accidental shootings by children.

The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association filed a similar lawsuit against the City of Seattle last month.

Joining in the legal action against Edmonds are two Edmonds residents, Brett Bass and Swan Seaberg. Named as defendants are Mayor Dave Earling and Police Chief Al Compaan.

Plaintiffs are represented by Seattle attorney Steven Fogg, at Corr Cronin LLP.

Edmonds City Attorney Jeff Taraday did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls.

Earling said the city’s practice is not to comment on pending litigation.

Under Washington law, the state Legislature has exclusive authority for all firearms regulation, including "registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components."

"It is clear to us that a handful of cities are trying desperately to erode Washington's long-standing preemption law," said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

"Their goal is to discourage citizens from exercising their rights under the state and federal constitutions by financial intimidation. The (Edmonds) City Council clearly understands preemption, but went ahead with this ordinance, anyway, undoubtedly knowing it would be overturned by the court. It seems as though their ultimate goal is to convince voters that gun law uniformity is somehow a bad idea, so it should be changed.

"They would like to take Washington back decades to a time when citizens had to contend with confusing and conflicting local ordinances and regulations. Preemption was adopted to eliminate that mess and make sure it doesn't happen again. The law has worked for more than three decades. It doesn't need fixing.

"This is a legal action that should have been undertaken by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Unfortunately, he is more interested in his political agenda and attacking people on his political enemies list, so the constitutional rights of Washington citizens come last."

 

 

 

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