While the battle over gun rights is intensifying statewide in Washington, Seattle gun owners are being targeted for regulatory harassment with the city’s new “safe storage” requirements, and the Edmonds City Council has predictably accepted free legal representation in its own gun control effort, according to grassroots activists who argue that none of the new requirements will prevent a single crime.
It is widely perceived that Washington is a political petri dish where gun prohibition lobbying groups are working with local anti-gun politicians to try all manner of extremist measures just to see what the public might accept, or adopt via citizen initiative. All of these efforts are being marketed as “gun safety” measures, but grassroots rights activists see them as “gun control” schemes.
The “safe storage” mandates in Seattle and Edmonds, which critics contend are clear violations of the 35-year-old state preemption law. Here, again, it appears the cities are pushing the envelope to see just how much they can get away with, depending upon the leanings of the courts that will hear the cases.
Both cities are being sued by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, and individual citizens living in both communities, which are getting free legal support. SAF and NRA, meanwhile, are getting no pro bono help at all, and the State Attorney General’s office so far is staying out of the battle even though the cities are unmistakably challenging state law, which gun activists contend that office is required to defend.
This is happening against the backdrop of the Initiative 1639 campaign, a multi-million-dollar effort largely funded by a handful of wealthy Seattle-area billionaires, along with a hefty $250,000 cash donation from anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, plus another $59,000 “in kind” contribution from the New York-based gun prohibition lobbying group.
Those donations nullify any complaint that I-1639 proponents might have about “out-of-state” money from NRA – currently totaling $150,000, according to the Public Disclosure Commission – is being invested to fight the initiative. Besides, there are probably more than 100,000 NRA members in the state, and it is a safe bet that much of the NRA money came from those members specifically for this fight.
Under Seattle’s new rules, a gun owner could be fined up to $10,000 if an “unsecured” gun falls into the hands of someone who uses it in a crime or injures somebody.
But many gun owners argue that if their firearms are inside of their locked homes, nobody should be in there stealing them.
According to KOMO, the new rules require gun owners to “lock up their guns in a secure safe, with a combination lock.”
But here is the text of the state preemption statute:
“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.”
As for the initiative battle, it has grassroots gun rights activists fired up across the state. NRA coordinators working in the state have scheduled meetings at the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club on Sept. 24, at Tactical Supply in Yakima Sept. 25, at the Pasco Red Lion on Sept. 26 and at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range in Spokane, Sept. 27.