Judge considering fate of new firearm storage law in Edmonds

An NRA lawsuit says the city cannot regulate guns. Edmonds lawyers say the challenge is premature.

EDMONDS — A judge plans to issue a written ruling on whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Edmonds’ new safe storage gun ordinance.

Judge Anita Farris on Tuesday heard arguments in Snohomish County Superior Court in a case brought by two Edmonds residents, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation against the City of Edmonds.

They’re hoping Farris will throw out the law passed by the City Council and signed by the mayor in July. The new law won’t be enforced until March of 2019.

The Edmonds law requires gun owners to keep their firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. It is similar to a Seattle law also enacted in July and challenged by the NRA. Earlier this month, a King County judge tossed out that case.

The judge concluded that because gun owners challenging the Seattle law did not plan to violate it, there was no actual dispute to decide at that moment.

Ordinances enacted in Seattle and Edmonds require firearms to be safely secured and “rendered unusable” to anyone other than the owner, or those the owner has authorized to use it. They do not apply to firearms carried by or under the control of owners. They do apply to weapons kept at home and in vehicles.

If anyone not permitted to use the gun, such as a child or a thief, gets access to the weapon, the gun owner could be held civilly liable and fined up to $1,000. If an unauthorized person uses the firearm to commit a crime or injure themselves or others, the gun owner could be fined again, up to $10,000.

The NRA and other plaintiffs have argued in court papers the mandates within the Edmonds ordinance are “illegal and legally unenforceable.” They also say authority to regulate firearms rests with the state of Washington, not cities such as Edmonds.

Lawyers representing the city said the lawsuit was not ripe for the legal challenge.

Farris listened to the arguments Tuesday before telling lawyers from both sides that she will take their arguments under advisement and will send them her ruling in writing.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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