Three-judge panel grants win to gun owners, strikes down local ordinance in Washington state

Amid growing talk among Democrats of imposing strict new gun control laws under the new Biden administration, supporters of the Second Amendment just won a small but important legal victory in the state of Washington.

This week, a division of the Washington state appeals court struck down a local ordinance regulating how firearms can be stored in owners’ homes, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

State preemption rules the day

According to reports, three lawful gun owners had filed suit against the city of Edmonds, Washington over a local mandate requiring all firearms kept in owners’ homes to be locked and inaccessible at all times when not being carried or actively used. The measure was meant to prevent firearms from being obtained by children, at-risk individuals, or someone prohibited by law from possessing them.

But a three-judge panel of Division One of the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled unanimously this week that the local ordinance was in violation of the state’s broader preemption law regarding firearm regulations.

That preemption law, known as RCW 9.41.290, provides that the state of Washington “fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state,” and that “[c]ities, towns, and counties or other municipalities” can only pass firearms laws and ordinances that are in accordance with state law.

The statute goes on to declare that “[l]ocal 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with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed.” In this case, the judges determined that the Edmonds’ ordinance was “inconsistent with” or “more restrictive than” current safe storage laws in Washington.

A win for gun owners

The National Rifle Association (NRA) had expressed open support for the gun owners’ lawsuit against the city. “Today’s ruling is an important victory for the people of Washington,” Lars Dalseide, spokesman for NRA Washington, said in a statement.

“Hopefully jurisdictions like Edmonds will realize that violating the Washington State Constitution is neither legal nor in the best interest of personal protection,” Dalseide added. “Washington state law prevents local jurisdictions from passing laws that are inconsistent with or more restrictive than state law. We thank the courts for faithfully applying the preemption law and securing the rights of those who choose to protect themselves, their families, and their homes.”

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) also supported the lawsuit, and organization founder Alan Gottlieb told the Free Beacon that the legal victory will “help the cause of protecting preemption nationally” against concerted efforts from Democrats to restrict gun rights at the local level.

“We have a very similar suit against the city of Seattle, on an ordinance, that’s almost identically worded as this one,” he said. “It’s going to be extremely helpful for us.”

Unfortunately, even after this legal win, Gottlieb said he doesn’t expect anti-gun Democrats “to slow down and go away.”

“They hate preemption,” he said, according to the Free Beacon.

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