City of Edmonds petitions State Supreme Court to overrule decision throwing out gun storage ordinance

In the latest legal maneuverings around Edmonds’ much-contested gun storage and unauthorized use ordinance (Ordinance 4120), the City of Edmonds has filed a petition with the Washington State Supreme Court asking it to overrule the recent state Appeals Court decision that effectively invalidated the ordinance.

Passed in 2018, the Edmonds gun ordinance addresses two functional issues. The first mandates safe storage of firearms (section 5.26.020), and the second addresses and provides penalties for unauthorized use of firearms (section 5.26.030). The latter is intended to address such things as unsecured firearms being used by children, being stolen or being used in a crime.

Passage of the ordinance set the stage for a series of legal actions pitting gun rights advocates against the city, with opponents questioning the validity and legality of the law, specifically arguing that it is in violation of the Washington State Preemption Statute (RCW 9.41.290), which reserves authority over firearm regulation to the state. See earlier My Edmonds News story for additional details and a summary history/timeline of the various legal actions.

The most recent of these legal actions was a Feb. 22 ruling by Washington State Appeals Court. In it, the court found the Edmonds law violated the Washington State Preemption statute, stating that the state law “unambiguously preempts” both the storage and unauthorized use provisions of the city’s ordinance, effectively throwing out the entire Edmonds law.

In its petition to the high court, filed March 25, the city argues that the Appeals Court decision was based on an overly broad interpretation of “field of firearm regulation” as defined in the Washington State Preemption statute, rather than adhering strictly to those individual criteria specifically enumerated in the law. The city further argues that the Appeals Court decision goes against legal precedent set in past similar cases both from the Washington State Appeals Court and the State Supreme Court, and cites specific references to each.

The city’s petition also raises concerns that a legal precedent that broadly interprets the preemption provisions would create unnecessary confusion regarding which firearm-related regulations are preempted and which are not. A ruling favoring more narrow interpretation would provide “clarity and guidance” to both jurisdictions and their citizens who call on “their local governments to act to prevent tragedies,” the petition said.

According to Edmonds City Attorney Jeff Taraday, “it is the city’s hope that a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court would allow the entire ordinance to stand.”

For Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson, it comes down to protecting Edmonds citizens from gun violence.

“We are appealing to the highest court in our state because our children’s safety is at risk from gun violence,” Nelson said in an email to My Edmonds News.  “Every public health expert agrees that safe storage of firearms saves lives. We are not going to stop protecting children from gun violence until the violence stops. We will keep on finding solutions to this public health crisis because our children have the right to live in our community free from this preventable gun violence.”

— By Larry Vogel


  1. I really have a problem with the mayor wasting our tax money on feel good crap that won’t help solve our problems. We went thru something like this with Nancy Reagan when she said just say no to drugs and it didn’t change anything and the drugs are still here.
    I can’t wait until the elections come up so we can try to elect people that want Edmonds to be a small friendly town like it was just a few years ago. I have lived in Edmonds for a long time and I have never remembered so much division.

    1. Agreed 100%. This seems to be a problem across the board in Washington. Elected officials wasting our money pushing partisan national politics instead of working to actually benefit the people they represent

  2. Rather than wasting time and money on an appeal, write a law that will not be thrown out by the courts.

  3. Public health crisis ? I would like Mayor Nelson to articulate the nature of the crisis with real statistics and relevant to the city of Edmonds. This is what happens when unqualified people with no skills beyond parroting whatever far left SJW talking points and pushing unneeded issues because they lack the talent to address real issues are elected to manage our city. Nelson has made one stupid move after another since he took office.

    1. I suggest you explain exactly what this is. To the last detail…many probably don’t have a clue. Legal ease isn’t a language many speak…
      The odds of winning this for Nelson apparently taking it to Supreme Court, are slim to none. The courts it appears has already said NO. The Supreme Court appeal he is wasting money on is seldom reversed. It won’t be this time either.
      If I understand this law he wants it is that you should keep your gun in a locked box. Ok…most do I imagine if they have children.
      It also means now here is where I get confused, that if your child takes your gun and does something…or. someone breaks into your house and steals your gun, you are liable for damages this person causes..
      Is this about right? Welcome explanation please. Thanks.

  4. America is being challenged from within by whatever political advocate you choose. Right or Left. Democracy is supposed to provide the standard for the common good. Law is supposed to address and solve the boundaries of what is legal and what is contempt, corrupt or illegal. I am for gun safety. Those who believe that having guns provides them special safety and special rights may be challenged by state laws. We have had gun violence in public schools and deaths of children sent to school to learn important skills. Violence has been sensationalized in movie films, on TV screens, on video games. Most countries are struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial and social consequences. The species that survives the longest is usually the one that understands and is aware of its environment.

    1. I am for gun safety laws too. Until the 2nd amendment is no more (don’t hold your breath). The right to bear arms is pretty clear.
      So…I am not saying I don’t believe in stringent gun laws I do. But, that doesn’t mean I would ever want all guns taken away from citizens who pass all national licensing, background checks, 3 week waiting period is what I want, no more gun sales at gun shows, no internet gun or ammo sales, no bump stocks and I think we can do fine without machine guns.
      Remember this is an open carry state. Many also have concealed weapon licenses.
      If someone breaks into your home and steals your gun, in a locked box or not…they are still a thief..this should be reported to police immediately.
      You can usually tell if someone is concealing…if you know what you are looking for and where they carry.
      Personal protection like it or not is here to stay…knives lots of new knife sales… just like our killer at Fred Meyer parking lot. No gun, or the drugged out I assume high and strong used his fists, closed, on 2 innocent bystanders while just running theft attempt of victim or car…just aggression. No gun. Remember…

  5. This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with the pro vs anti gun advocates on the national level. It is a proxy battle between the 2 and Mayor Nelson is providing the venue. I seriously doubt that the City of Edmonds has spent much money on the effort at all. The funding is likely coming from the Michael Bloomberg anti gun organization and the on the opposing side the pro gun 2nd Amendment Foundation or a similar organization is providing the resources, as the NRA withdrew from the initial effort. Passing feel good legislation is pointless.

  6. Edmonds is all about feel good legislation, from meaningless high fireworks fines to tree codes, rules and fines that aren’t going to save any trees. I agree, passing feel good legislation is pointless.

  7. I love this. Also ask the Supreme or Superior Courts if Edmonds can charge white ppl with DWSL but let black ppl go. Let’s reinvent policing.

  8. Matt, put your thinking cap on. Do you think that is the group of people they are addressing? That’s why I asked for data. I know exactly who they are protecting and the “leaders” need to speak the words and explain why.

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