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

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

Judge says decision coming soon on Edmonds gun storage law

The plaintiffs are challenging a requirement that gun owners keep their weapons secured.

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge is expected to decide soon whether to allow litigation to proceed over the new law governing personal firearm storage in the city of Edmonds.

Superior Court Judge Anita Farris heard oral arguments for about 90 minutes Friday on whether to dismiss the case. She said she will issue her ruling within the next two weeks.

The Edmonds law is to go into effect in March. It 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 recently tossed out that case.

Farris on Friday questioned whether the Edmonds law is written clearly enough to be enforceable. She was critical of its potential to leave room for interpretation as to when someone has “control” of their weapon. It may not be clear whether that applies if they go into a different room or leave their home without taking it with them, she said.

“You can’t have statutes that nobody knows what they mean,” she said.

She also wanted to know how the issue could be affected by Initiative 1639, the statewide gun restrictions passed by voters in November.

Attorneys representing the city of Edmonds said it would depend on the facts of the case, and it would be better to wait for a real-life scenario before figuring that out. They cited a hypothetical situation where a 10-year-old stumbles upon an unsecured firearm.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs — which are two Edmonds residents, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation — say law-abiding people are prepared to violate the ordinance by not changing their current habits. One example was someone keeping firearms stored around the house for self-defense.

The plaintiffs aren’t making Second Amendment arguments at this point because the new rules fail other legal challenges, they said. They filed an amended complaint after oral arguments in October.

They still are seeking an injunction. If granted, that would mean the city couldn’t enforce the law.

The city still wants the matter dismissed.

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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