State court torpedoes city's gun storage demands

The Supreme Court in the state of Washington has ruled in a unanimous decision that a city’s demands for how gun owners can store their firearms must give way to the plans created by the state legislature.

Chief Justice Steven C. Gonzalez wrote, “We hold that the plaintiffs have standing and that this ordinance is preempted by RCW 9.41.290. We affirm the Court of Appeals and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

According to the Second Amendment Foundation, it was the city of Edmonds that created a firearms storage rule that now is preempted by state law.

SAF was joined in the case, known as Bass v. City of Edmonds, by the National Rifle Association and three private citizens, Swan Seaberg, Curtis McCullough and Brett Bass, for whom the lawsuit is named.

“This is a great victory for the principle of state preemption,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “This should send a signal to other municipal governments—especially the city of Seattle against which we have a nearly identical pending lawsuit—that they cannot enact their own gun restrictions in violation of state law or the state constitution.”

Edmonds officials had adopted a so-called “safe storage” mandate for firearms owners living within Edmonds city limits.

The problem was that in 1985, the state legislature adopted the state statute, preempting “the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the 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. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law…”

Gottlieb said his organization “will not tolerate anti-gun politicians who violate the law in order to pass laws to restrict our rights.”

Gonzalez also ruled, “We decline to limit the preemption statute to firearms’ transactions and active use. That limitation is simply not consistent with the words of the statute as a whole.”

He added, “The legislature plainly meant to broadly preempt local lawmaking concerning firearms except where specifically authorized in chapter 9.41 RCW or other statutes…Accordingly, we hold that this ordinance is preempted by state law.”

“Washington adopted state preemption nearly 40 years ago,” Gottlieb said, “and we will defend it vigorously, because it is plain common sense. We’re grateful the state’s highest court unanimously shares that opinion. This is another example of SAF fulfilling its mission to win firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”

WND reported a year ago that the Washington Court of Appeals had reached the same conclusion that the Supreme Court later adopted.

At that time, acting Chief Judge Beth Andrus and judges Bill Bowman and Lori Kay Smith said, “We … conclude that the legislature’s express preemption of ‘the entire field of firearms regulation’ is unambiguous and necessarily extends to regulations of the storage of firearms.”

In the Edmonds case, it was Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris who originally ruled the city requirement was impermissible.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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