Gun rights groups pull out of suit against Edmonds gun storage law

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

  1. Responsible storage options differ among different individuals and family scenarios. Prescribing a narrow set of legal storage options and requiring that they be universally employed to all residents is inappropriate and, in Washington state, a violation of state law.

    Educational efforts promoting safe storage while respecting the individuality of citizens are a less divisive and more effective approach. Gun rights organizations have been doing exactly this for decades. Rather than offending gun owners and gun rights organizations the City of Edmonds should be working with them.

  2. Gun rights organizations have been offending me for years. Time for them to alter their approach.

  3. Mike Nelson says that gun safes are in the purview of public safety, just like fixing holes in the sidewalks. Maybe 10% of rifles in Edmonds are in a safe. Not many people have safes big enough. What’s great is that should the Edmonds law stand, the city can be sued to buy everyone a safe with public money. A good question for Mike Nelson, if cost isnt an issue when it comes to public safety, would he support a levy or appropriation to buy all Edmonds citizens a big safe? Is having every Edmonds gun in a safe more or less of a public safety concern than the waterfront connector?

  4. “[E]fforts promoting safe storage while respecting the individuality of citizens” is a fine sentiment, but it leaves the door wide open to improper storage. It’s like saying driver’s ed driver’s licenses should be voluntary. We make laws to prevent undesirable consequences, and if having to take driver’s ed is perceived by some as a burden, well, that’s too bad.

    1. Drivers licenses should be voluntary… sort of. As the law evolves, in that driving used to be seen as a priviledge, it’s now being seen as a right. Implied Conscent laws are being overturned state by state on those grounds. Travel is a right.
      For most places in American, cars are the only mode to travel. So driving is a right and we dont license rights. Then there’s science, which shows that while taking classes is a great way out of many ways to learn to drive, licensing doesnt increase traffic safety. Really weighted insurance schemes and other consequences seem to be the best measure. Consequences, not prior restraint, are why people act responsibly. A sex license wouldn’t decrease the risk of VD any more than London’s fire arm ban decreased violence. Jon Powell’s points are really constructive. Education comes in many forms and works, but forcing people to be educated is Liberal? Prior restraint on rights is Liberal? Taking the argument for granted for a moment still doesnt help. I’m oft surprised when people who oppose abortion bans and drug bans on the grounds that prior restraint drives behavior under ground and creates vise (which is a great point) also usually favor regressive gun laws, ranging from banning them to restricting access (akin to restricting access to planned parenthood). Mexico banned guns, and the Mexicans who fled Mexico to escape the violence are supposedly perfectly safe drivers and should be handed driver’s licenses. Illegal Immigrants have the right to drive is the argument :/ Only in politics is logic so plastic. Libertarians are the real liberals. Great point though. This is all just like drivers ed. Too bad?

    2. Drivers ed is VOLUNTARY! You can absolutely own a car without going threw drivers ed or get a license. I would have no problem getting a lisence if i was using my gun on public property, like you do a car. In fact i do just that every year when i go kill little bambis’ in the woods, they are called hunting license. I also do that every five years when i go renew my concealed carry permit. There is no law saying i have to store my CAR in a safe location on my PROPERTY! Thats the difference. You people are trying to dictate what I do with. y property, on my property. Its insidious, its anti-freedom, its anti-American, its literally against the law, and there is zero proof that it would save or help anyone, in fact there is ample proof of the contrary, that having to fumble with a safe while a attacker kicks in your door could get you killed. Plus it puts a undue financial burden on the individiual. When people have zero clue about the subjects they are talking about they should keep there flawed opinions to themselves sir.

    3. Drivers ED IS VOLUNTARY, the only time you have to take drivers ed is if you wish to drive on public roads, drivers ed for 18 year olds use to not be mandatory at all, and now it is a six hour coarse, with no behind the whell training in wa. for 18 or older. BUT You dont need a license to buy a car. You dont need a license to own a car and keep it on your property! You only need it to drive on public roads, just like the hunting license i get every year to hunt bambi on public land. Just like the conceal carry permit i get every five years to carry concealed outside of my property. This is a property rights issue, not a public safety rights issue. Talking about licenses when the issue is about safe storage in my own home, is wrong and muddies the waters. There is no law saying I have to store my car safely, yet cars kill and injury far more people then guns every year. And most people killed by guns are suicides, most people killed by cars are actual victims of someones elses bad decisions, and bad driving. If you want to talk about how unsuccessful drivers ed has been thats fine, but it does not belong in a gun storage debate. ALSO IF licensing worked why do sooooo many people drive sooooo bad??

      1. Without dismissing Nathaniel’s point because it is super interesting, neither licenses nor class-based driver’s education have a marked positive effect on end to end safety. Knowing Nathaniel for a great guy who leans hard left and argues his points well, I’m sure he’d concede that licences aren’t about safety so much as reducing access. Hunting licenses, not on the contrary, are a medalion system specifically designed to limit cultivation of animals. The state actually pays people to kill boas in the Everglades. The state isnt so much concerned with hunter safety when hunters are going after an invasive species. Unsafe people can get a hunting license just as easily as safe people.

        As far as politics, Democrats have always advocated gun licenses [first] to prevent black people from having them. As a proponent of gay marriage and gay family units (which are incredibly rare), no one in any room [left or right] seemed comfortable after hearing about how Democrats created marriage licenses to keep white people from marrying black people (a sex license). They were sometimes referred to as Intermarry Licenses, not to obscure the point. The Democrat invention of marriage licenses should be abolished (not to say marriage as a contract and/or a religious institution should be abandoned). That said, for indirect reasons, imagine how unsafe it was to intermarry in the 1860’s. Safety actually might have been a legitimate concern. It’s hard to believe sometimes when someone argues for the safety of other people.

        Using state to prevent civil rights is a cross-party sickness.

    4. I live be myself in a tiny apartment, have lived here about 20 years, never had children here, few adults visit. There just isn’t room,no parking, uphill walk. I do my socializing on the outside.
      What is “Proper” storage for my weapons?

      My neighbor has 6 kids by blended marriage, ages from low 20s to Rugrats.
      What is Proper storage for his guns?

      1. I live in much the same circumstances, and have lived here since about ’84 – and I have never felt the need for firearms. Mind you, I don’t fear them: Dad was a gunsmith of international reputation, my brother was an NRA champions, and I was a member of the US Biathlon Team.

        My issues are three: 1) the wrong people getting a hold on one’s firearms; 2) Accidental discharge (which I have seem even on a World Championship Team); and 3) – and this is the personal bottom line: am I prepared to take a life?

        With respect to the latter, my belief is that the need to defend myself with lethal force is so unlikely that I am reluctant to allow 1 & 2 to be possible. As to killing someone – even in a break-in, I don’t feel that “things” are of more value than life.

        I grew up on a ranch in Oregon, and for 45 years I summered on a remote ranch in a fairly rough rural neighborhood, there were some serious drug users, break-ins – but I always felt that keeping a baseball bat near the door was all I needed. BTW, we did carry guns when checking the cattle – porcupines (which kill cows and trees), wounded game during hunting season, rattle snakes…

        I am casting no stones. Number 3 is an entirely personal reaction, but I am just not prepared to kill. Maybe it’s my Quaker family. 🙂

  5. I suggest some are required to lock up their pens, pencils, and keyboards as what some write can be lethal and life altering. At what point to we stop trying to legislate common sense and expect people to be responsible?

      1. Evil will find a way to deploy harm, regardless of laws or “rules of the game.” For those who question this, all one has to do is spend time with those who served in combat and you’ll discover unfortunate, yet creative ways opposing forces deploy (and the tools used) to gain the upper hand. But I digress – I do believe there needs to be a measure of training and agreed upon expectations when one purchases a gun – this will help reduce the accidents. We can’t regulate people being irresponsible – which was my point with the pen and keyboard. Careers have been upended, good people destroyed, reputations tarnished because of false statements and articles.

  6. I don’t know what all this political ideology stuff has to do with anything here. I do agree with Mr. Shindler that you can’t legislate common sense because common sense is a subjective concept meaning one thing to one person and something else to another. What I do know is that our Constitution says owning a gun is a right, not a privilege, so wouldn’t it maybe be prudent to have some gun instruction available in our public and private school systems. If everyone has the potential to own one, based on just being alive and a citizen in the USA, wouldn’t it be to all our benefit for them to be trained in how to use, store and care for one. How they use it and what they want it for is irrelevant, if it is an absolute right to have it. All you can do is teach, and hope people will be prudent. Good Luck with that BTW.

    1. Clinton, I agree with you on the gun safety training. When I was up in Alaska it was more common than not to find youth and adults with guns. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to have gun racks in the pickup trucks sitting in the high school parking lots. We respected the power of that tool. We were also keenly aware of the consequences of any misuse. So…yes I agree with you on training 100%.

  7. Besides the state having preemption, this violates SCOTUS decision in Heller vs DC.
    HELLER. District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a federal district ruling that a Washington, D.C. law banning handguns and requiring other firearms to be stored unloaded or locked was unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds.Oct 17, 2008

    1. Agreed one hundred percent! Although all gun laws are unconstitutional, shall NOT BE INFRINGED, is a very very simple and easy to understand statement. The only people that seem to have trouble understanding it, are people the dont agree with it.

  8. This is a over reach again to law abiding citizens.
    Gun ownership is a right. A very good right.
    Im getting very tired of Washington State (Edmonds) over reach. Work on other items besides more laws.

  9. As long as we accept an absolutist interpretation of the Constitution, (i.e. an absolute right to own and bear arms (with almost no definition of what type and amount of arms and ammunition this right implies or allows under the law), our only choice is to educate and hope for the best. Maybe people will tire of shooting each other, maybe mental illness will be treated and cured for the masses, maybe drug abuse and the related gun violence will dissipate, maybe bullying will magically disappear and school shootings will end. Until then we live with the laws we accept and the ones we reject. Hopefully the good guys shoot straight and prevail. End of story.

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