The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation are suing Seattle over a new ordinance that requires gun owners to secure their firearms in a certain matter or else face fines of up to $10,000.
Unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council earlier this month, the legislation also requires gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearm to authorities within 24 hours. Failure to do so may result in a civil infraction and a fine of up to $1,000.
SAF and NRA are suing on the grounds that it violates the state’s preemption law which gives the legislature the exclusive authority to regulate firearms. In other words, towns, cities and other municipalities are expressly forbidden from adopting new laws that deal with the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge and transportation of firearms.
“The City of Seattle has been trying to erode state preemption almost from the moment it was passed back in 1985,” recalled SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a press release.
“When the city tried to ban guns from city parks facilities under former mayors Greg Nickels and Mike McGinn, SAF and NRA joined forces with other organizations to stop it, under the state preemption statute,” Gottlieb added. “We should not have to repeatedly remind Seattle that they are still part of Washington State and must obey the law.”
Defendants in the suit include Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle Police Department and Chief Carmen Best.
Joining SAF and NRA in the lawsuit are two Seattle residents, Omar Abdul Alim and Michael Thyng. Both own firearms.
“Seattle seems to think it should be treated differently than any other local government when it comes to firearm regulation,” Gottlieb observed. “State preemption was adopted more than three decades ago to assure uniformity of gun laws from Ilwaco to the Idaho border. Seattle simply can’t break the law to adopt an ordinance as a political statement.
“We’re delighted to once again be working with the NRA to protect Washington state law and the rights of gun owners who live in the state’s largest city,” Gottlieb concluded.
What’s really troubling about the new ordinance is that gun owners are on the hook even if their secured guns are stolen or obtained illegally.
From the NRA-ILA:
This legislation will restrict the self-defense rights of Seattle residents by making it illegal for firearms to be kept in a private residence unless the firearms are kept in a “locked container” at all times when not being carried by the owner or other “lawfully authorized user”. Additionally, it will create a separate offense for an individual that has their firearms stolen or accessed by a minor or prohibited person, even if the firearms were stored in a locked container or obtained through illegal means such as burglary or theft. A violation of this ordinance can result in up to a $10,000 fine, and would be considered “per se evidence” of negligence in a civil action, even if the firearms were stolen or obtained through other illegal action.
Given the preemption statute, which has been on the books for 35 years, SAF and NRA should have no problem prevailing in this case. We’ll keep you posted.