Setback in Seattle for NRA may bode well for Edmonds gun law

Both cities passed safe storage rules and both got sued by NRA. Edmonds case is in court Oct. 30.

EDMONDS — A King County Superior Court judge on Friday tossed out the NRA’s challenge of Seattle’s safe storage gun law, a decision that could bode well for a similar legal battle in Edmonds.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde dismissed the suit, in which the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation of Bellevue contended state law preempts local governments from enacting regulations related to the possession of firearms.

The Seattle law enacted July 18 requires gun owners to keep their firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. The Edmonds City Council passed a nearly identical ordinance a week later.

The two gun rights organizations are challenging each ordinance in separate lawsuits.

“The court’s decision highlights the hypocrisy of organizations that claim to support responsible gun storage, but then run into court as soon as a city or state tries to make such responsible storage not just a suggestion, but a legal requirement,” said Eric Tirschwell, director of litigation at Everytown for Gun Safety which is providing legal services to Seattle and Edmonds.

Opponents of the law vow to appeal.

“It is frustrating when judges refuse to address the merits of a case and duck by saying the law is not yet in effect and plaintiffs have not proven that they will be arrested if they violate the law. We will continue this litigation and force a judge to rule that the law is illegal,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.

On Oct. 30, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge will consider a motion to dismiss the NRA suit filed on behalf of the city of Edmonds by the Tirschwell-led legal team.

On Friday, Tirschwell declined to discuss the upcoming hearing. Briefs filed in the Edmonds case are mostly identical to those the legal team submitted in support of its motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Seattle.

Edmonds City Council President Mike Nelson, the chief sponsor of the city’s safe storage measure, said he was “very happy to hear the Seattle ordinance has been upheld,” but declined to comment on how it might impact the city’s case.

Gottlieb’s comments were brief. When asked what the decision might mean in the Edmonds case, he said in an email, “Probably nothing.”

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 Edmonds law is set to be enforced in January, while the Seattle law is slated to take effect in February.

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

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