Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Thursday unveiled a new gun control proposal that, according to the Seattle Times, will penalize gun owners $500 to $10,000 “for failing to lock up and safeguard their firearms.”
But most Times readers responding to the report appear to be unimpressed and in a few cases downright opposed. There are two primary concerns:
How does the city expect to enforce the idea?
Doesn’t this proposal violate Washington State’s 35-year-old model preemption statute? Here is the language of RCW 9.41.290, first adopted in 1983 and amended two years later:
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
The Times has been a busy newspaper lately on the subject of firearms. Columnist Danny Westneat wrote Wednesday, blaming guns for school shootings. An editorial demanded that gun owners “lock up and unload at home.” Syndicated anti-gun columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. wondered why “gun apologists” can’t admit being wrong.
Rights activists note that firearms stored inside one’s locked home should be secure. After all, nobody should be breaking into locked homes to steal whatever is inside. That’s a crime.
It might just be that gun owners are right, and Pitts is wrong.
When it comes to school shootings — or any other mass shooting — Alan Gottlieb at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms had what many considered the “perfect” response to Westneat and others.
“Time after time, with endless fund raising appeals and inflammatory rhetoric, we’ve seen these anti-rights lobbying groups immediately try to shift blame to the NRA, or the Second Amendment, or the firearms industry, or some mythical loophole in the law,” he observed. “But they never seem to point their fingers at the culprit, and we think it’s time for the American public to ask why?”
Seattle seems to be obsessed with people’s guns and rights. Some look at Durkan’s proposal as less a Second Amendment issue than a Fourth Amendment dilemma. What people do in the privacy of their homes seems to be okay unless it involves firearms, and then it’s suddenly supposed to be everybody’s business, some gun owners sarcastically suggest.
Are police going to go door-to-door, without warrants or probable cause, to check whether gun owners are storing their firearms in a manner acceptable to some city bureaucrat who doesn’t own a gun?
The city just adopted a “head tax” that has caused something of an insurrection among businesses. The city is home to a virulently anti-gun lobbying organization that is pushing yet another initiative that firearms owners believe will further erode their rights under the state and federal constitutions.
And now comes Durkan with a “safe storage” proposal that may not prevent any crimes or tragedies, and may even violate state law.
Maybe the problem isn’t guns or their owners. Maybe it’s Seattle.