Washington Supreme Court agrees to review Edmonds’ challenge to gun storage ruling

Gun Rights

The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to review a City of Edmonds challenge to a Washington State Court of Appeals ruling that negated the city’s gun storage ordinance.

Following the Edmonds City Council’s passage of an ordinance in July 2018 requiring safe gun storage, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation — along with Edmonds residents Brett Bass, Curtis McCullough and Swan Seaberg — sued the city, seeking a declaratory judgment that the ordinance is invalid. Everytown Law agreed to represent the city on a pro bono basis, along with the Summit Law Group. The city moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs do not have standing.

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, thus allowing the suit to proceed.

In June 2019, the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation pulled out of the suit but continued to provide support to the remaining plaintiffs.

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The plaintiffs appealed, and in October 2019 the court (again presided over by Judge Farris) granted a partial victory to both sides, finding that the plaintiffs’ standing applies to the safe storage but not the unauthorized use provisions of the ordinance. Accordingly, the court ruled that the State preemption law applies to the storage provisions but not the unauthorized use provisions. This said in effect that the City of Edmonds cannot tell people how to store their guns, but can levy fines against gun owners whose firearms are possessed or used by unauthorized persons.

The plaintiffs next appealed to the State Appeals Court, arguing that the lower court erred and that they indeed do have standing to challenge the unauthorized use provisions of the ordinance reasoning that despite them not being directly affected, the issue is of sufficient public importance to confer standing.  On Feb.22, 2021 the court found in favor of the plaintiffs, building upon previous court decisions that declared the safe storage provisions of the Edmonds ordinance invalid by also striking down the unauthorized use provisions, thereby effectively negating the entire ordinance.

In response to the latest appeals court ruling, the City of Edmonds filed a petition for discretionary review; the Supreme Court of Washington granted that petition on Sept. 3 and could hear it as soon as winter term 2022.

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