Proponents of Edmonds’ safe firearms storage ordinance suffered a setback Tuesday as Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita L. Farris ruled that the legal challenge brought against the law may proceed.
Under Edmonds’ gun storage ordinance, proposed last July by then-City Council President Mike Nelson and approved by the Edmonds City Council later that month, those failing to secure their firearms could face a civil infraction of up to $500. If a child or other prohibited person gains access to a firearm that should have been secured, the violator can be fined up to $1,000. If someone is hurt as a result of that person gaining access, the fine increases to up to $10,000.
Plaintiffs in the suit against the Edmonds law include the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, and several local residents. Their suit argues that Edmonds’ ordinance violates Washington State’s preemption statute, , which grants exclusive authority for gun regulation in Washington to the State Legislature. The City of Edmonds contended that the plaintiffs “lacked standing,” a technical argument meaning that they would suffer no harm should the ordinance move forward and hence have no stake in the outcome and cannot file suit.
In her Tuesday, March 19 court decision, Judge Farris ruled that the plaintiffs do indeed have standing, opening the way for their challenge to proceed.
Local reaction was swift.
“This is a narrow and preliminary ruling,” said Eric Tirschwell, litigation director for Everytown Law and co-counsel with the City of Edmonds. “We look forward to continuing to defend the city’s efforts to require and promote responsible storage of firearms as the case continues.”
Nelson reiterated his stance that “safe storage laws save lives. This procedural ruling will not stop our community from protecting our children from gun violence,” Nelson said. “We will continue working to prevent gun violence from reaching our schools, our streets, and our homes. We’re looking forward to trial standing up for our children’s safety.”
— By Larry Vogel