A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

NRA pulls out of lawsuit against Edmonds’ new gun storage law

But the NRA and a Bellevue gun rights group will fund the legal fight on behalf of 3 plaintiffs.

EDMONDS — The National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation are no longer plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the city of Edmonds’ new rules governing firearm storage.

The two gun rights groups pulled out earlier this month, leaving residents Brett Bass, Curtis McCullough and Swan Seaberg as the remaining plaintiffs. But the organizations will continue to conduct and fund the legal fight on behalf of the trio.

“We’re definitely not giving up and we plan to win it,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.

Gottlieb and attorneys representing the individual plaintiffs characterized their withdrawal as a strategic decision aimed at speeding up the case. They said lawyers for the city sought a slew of their records related to responsible firearms storage and they didn’t want to spend the time and money gathering them.

“Once it became clear that the City’s attorneys would use the participation of the organizations to slow down and delay the case, the NRA and SAF elected to withdraw and allow the three individual plaintiffs to press their claims,” attorneys said in a statement. “With the organizations out of the case, the individual plaintiffs plan to move for summary judgment to invalidate the ordinance as soon as possible.”

Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law, said the move wasn’t surprising. The firm is leading the litigation on the city’s behalf.

“The NRA and Second Amendment Foundation claim to support responsible storage of firearms, as Edmonds now requires,” he said in a statement. “We are not surprised that, when pressed to explain their position, these organizations decided to drop out. We look forward to making our arguments to the court as to why the individual plaintiffs’ preemption claims are meritless as well.”

The Edmonds law requires gun owners to keep their firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. Approved last July, the city delayed enforcement until March 21, 2019. Thus far no citations have been issued.

In August 2018, the NRA and SAF, along with the residents, sued to block the ordinance, arguing it violates a state law intended to preempt local governments from enacting their own regulations related to the possession of firearms.

On March 19, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris denied the city’s motion to dismiss the Edmonds suit, ruling the preemption argument was ripe for determination.

No hearing date has been set.

Under the Edmonds 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.

The Edmonds law is similar to a Seattle ordinance that was challenged by the NRA. A King County judge tossed out that case and the NRA has appealed.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos,

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