State Supreme Court to hear case of Edmonds gun-storage law

In February, an appeals panel said state law pre-empts the city from enacting its own firearm rules.

OLYMPIA — The city of Edmonds will get a chance to convince the state Supreme Court that its law prescribing how residents store their guns is legal.

On Sept. 3, a court majority agreed to hear a case that could further delineate the ability of local governments to adopt rules related to firearms.

“I am very encouraged that the state Supreme Court has decided to review this case,” Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said Tuesday. “It is very important that cities like ours get clarity when we’re enacting ordinances on safe storage, which is so important with firearms.”

The Edmonds law, passed in 2018, required gun owners to keep their firearms locked up and inaccessible to others, especially children. It did not apply to firearms carried by or under the control of owners. It did apply to weapons kept at home and in vehicles.

A month later, the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation, along with three residents, sued to block the ordinance, arguing it violated a state law intended to preempt local governments from enacting their own regulations related to the possession of firearms. The NRA and Second Amendment Foundation are no longer plaintiffs but reportedly continue to assist in legal proceedings.

The city law took effect in March 2019, but in October Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris sided with residents and blocked its enforcement. The city appealed.

In February, a three-judge state appeals panel ruled unanimously that the city ordinance, “regardless of its arguable benefits to public safety,” is “unambiguously” pre-empted by state law and provisions of Initiative 1639, a gun safety measure passed by voters in November 2018.

The city, in March, petitioned the high court to review that decision and a majority agreed to do so. Justices did not set a date for a hearing.

Everytown Law, funded by the national nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, is leading the litigation on the city’s behalf.

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623 @dospueblos

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