Both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation earlier this month pulled out of the lawsuit against the City of Edmonds’ safe gun storage law, leaving Edmonds residents Brett Bass, Curtis McCullough and Swan Seaberg the sole plaintiffs.
Despite their withdrawal from the suit, officials from the Second Amendment Foundation say that they are still very much in the game, characterizing their exit as a strategic move to speed up the suit by avoiding the time-consuming task of assembling and providing their records to attorneys representing the City of Edmonds.
Proposed by Councilmember Mike Nelson last summer, the measure was subsequently enacted by a 5 to 1 vote of the City Council with Councilmember Tibbott absent. (Tibbott was on vacation and unavailable by phone). The measure requires gun owners to lock up their guns when not in use. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $10,000 and forfeiture of the firearms.
In August 2018 the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation joined with Bass, McCullough and Seaberg to challenge the law in court. The suit argues that the ordinance violates Washington State’s preemption statute, which grants exclusive authority for gun regulation in Washington to the State Legislature.
The City of Edmonds subsequently moved to dismiss the suit, 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 March 2019 Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris denied the city’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the plaintiffs do indeed have standing and thus allowing the suit to proceed.
Immediately subsequent to this ruling, Eric Tirschwell, litigation director for Everytown Law and co-counsel with the City of Edmonds, characterized it as a “narrow and preliminary ruling,” going on to say that, “We look forward to continuing to defend the city’s efforts to require and promote responsible storage of firearms as the case continues.”
No subsequent hearing date has been set. While the ultimate outcome is far from certain, their recent withdrawal as plaintiffs means that NRA and Second Amendment Foundation will not be an official part of it, but will continue to support the case.
— By Larry Vogel