A new Edmonds law requires gun owners to keep firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. (Wikimedia Commons)

A new Edmonds law requires gun owners to keep firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. (Wikimedia Commons)

Judge: Suit challenging Edmonds gun-storage law can proceed

The ordinance, which requires that firearms be locked up, took effect Thursday.

EDMONDS — A lawsuit challenging the city of Edmonds’ new rules around firearm storage can move forward, a Snohomish County judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Anita Farris issued an order Tuesday after questioning a February request from the city’s attorneys to hear additional arguments.

Thursday was the day the ordinance went into effect.

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 that was challenged by the National Rifle Association. A King County judge tossed out that case.

In Snohomish County, the judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss the Edmonds suit. Additional hearings have not been scheduled.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs — two Edmonds residents, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation — have said law-abiding people are prepared to violate the ordinance by not changing their current habits. They used the example of keeping firearms stored around the house for self-defense.

The judge’s two-page order was not listed in the public court database Thursday. The plaintiffs provided a copy to The Daily Herald.

They argue that state law leaves firearms regulations up to the Legislature in Olympia.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said in a Wednesday news release that the plaintiffs are “encouraged” by the proceedings.

“We believe this ordinance, and the one in Seattle, were passed specifically to erode the state law,” he said.

In January, attorneys representing the city said in court that enforcement practices would depend on the facts of each case, and it would be better to wait for a real-life scenario before figuring out the legal questions. They cited a hypothetical situation in which a 10-year-old stumbles upon an unsecured firearm.

Eric Tirschwell represents Edmonds officials as well as Everytown Law, a national effort.

“We look forward to continuing to defend the city’s efforts to require and promote responsible storage of firearms,” he said in a prepared statement.

Under the ordinance, if someone such as a child or a thief gets unauthorized 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.

Those provisions aren’t applied to someone legally carrying a weapon on their person.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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