The Seattle Times is reporting how newly-installed Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is “focused on gun responsibility,” a term that translates to “gun control,” and his wish list for the current legislative session includes limiting the purchase of so-called “ghost guns” and—according to his niece and deputy mayor Monisha Harrell—an end to state preemption.
Washington was a pioneer in state preemption, adopting a statute first in 1983 and strengthening it in 1985. Under the statute, regulation of firearms within state borders is solely the responsibility of the state legislature. “Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law.”
Anti-gun-rights mayors and municipal governments have wanted to be rid of this preemption law since it was enacted because it strips them of the power to regulate the rights of gun owners.
Washington’s law became a model for other states and today nearly all states have preemption statutes. As the Times acknowledges, in 2012, the State Supreme Court denied review of a case the city had lost twice, once at trial and again unanimously before the State Court of Appeals. That case was brought by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Washington Arms Collectors and five individual Seattle gun owners challenging an effort by the city to ban guns in city parks. The case was known as Chan v. City of Seattle.
Preemption has been a target of Seattle-based state legislators ever since.
Prior to the adoption of the preemption statute, Washington—like most other states—had a checkerboard of sometimes conflicting gun control laws. Backers of the preemption idea wanted uniformity in gun laws, so what is legal in the coastal community of Copalis would be equally legal in the city of Clarkston on the Idaho border. While supporters of ending preemption claim they merely want the ability to address local issues, in reality they want to restore a legal maze to confuse and ultimately discourage the state’s gun owners from exercising their rights.
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb indicated to Liberty Park Press Monday this year’s session of the Washington Legislature could be challenging because of all the gun control measures the Democrat-controlled legislature may want to push. There are measures to ban so-called “assault weapons,” ban open carry of firearms on the capitol campus in Olympia, ban magazines that hold more than 12 rounds, and a ban on so-called “ghost guns.”
Bruce Harrell takes over as mayor of a city in which the crime rate has gone up, while the number of murders went down in 2021 from the 52 posted in 2020. Last year there were 43 slayings in the city, not all gun-related.
Washington has an active and growing Legislative Action Group with more than 10,000 members, and they are monitoring all of the gun control bills, along with Herrell’s agenda.