When the Seattle City Council passed their new gun storage ordinance earlier this month they should have expected an immediate backlash. The new rules require all gun owners to keep their firearms in “a locked container” at all times unless being actively carried by the owner or another authorized user. On top of that, if your home is broken into and somebody steals your firearms, you are required to report the crime within 24 hours or face a fine in the thousands of dollars. As predicted, the backlash was swift in coming.
Two homeowners, backed by the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation, are suing the city to have the ordinance withdrawn, saying that their Second Amendment rights are being violated. And the rule has some other legal hurdles to overcome as well. (Free Beacon)
“The City of Seattle has been trying to erode state preemption almost from the moment it was passed back in 1985,” Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said. “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. We should not have to repeatedly remind Seattle that they are still part of Washington State and must obey the law.”
He claimed Seattle is intentionally running afoul of the state’s preemption law in order to send a political message.
Regulations about firearm storage are always a sensitive subject. An ordinance such as the one Seattle passed seems to allow room for residents to “keep arms” but not “bear arms.” (Or at least not in a practical fashion.) Each owner’s situation is unique. If only adults live in your home, your storage requirements will be different than a home with kids, and even then it varies with their age and how well you have educated them. It’s an individual decision and people can be held accountable for bad decisions without regulating everyone.
But as the NRA statement makes clear, they’re going after this ordinance on some important legal grounds above and beyond basic Second Amendment rights. Washington state has had a firearm preemption statute in place for more then 35 years. It grants the state government the power to handle all regulations dealing with firearms, preventing a confusing patchwork of regulations catching up people from town to town. It does appear that Seattle is once again attempting to undercut that statute and the state should step in and bring them to heel.