UPDATED 7/18/18 @ 2:30 P.M. — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed a city ordinance requiring so-called “safe storage” of firearms, with civil penalties for violations, despite a 35-year-old Washington statute that placed sole authority for gun regulation in the hands of the State Legislature.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, based coincidentally in the neighboring city of Bellevue, confirmed that there will be a lawsuit challenging the validity of the ordinance under the state statute. SAF was joined a few years ago by the National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and other gun rights groups in a lawsuit that stopped Seattle from banning firearms in city park facilities.
Here’s the statute, RCW 9.41.290:
“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with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Perhaps one of the alleged victims of repeat offender Jose Gilberto Rodriguez is lucky they didn’t live in Seattle. According to the Associated Press and Wednesday’s Seattle PI.com, Rodriguez is a “Houston parolee” who is back in custody after being arrested by lawmen following what appears to have been a violent crime spree. A handgun belonging to one of the victims was reportedly found in a car he was allegedly driving. Rodriguez now faces capital murder charges in at least two slayings and a third may be linked to him, the report indicated.
But in Seattle, the owner of that handgun might face a stiff civil penalty, although under the circumstances, Seattle might have a hard time collecting.
According to KING5 News, the local NBC affiliate, Durkan and Councilwoman M. Lorena Gonzalez want to “reduce gun violence by requiring responsible gun storage.” Who defines “responsible” storage? If a firearm is stored in a locked cabinet, but a thief gets access by breaking in after breaking into a locked house, condo or apartment, will that be enough to protect the gun owner from being financially penalized, provided the gun owner hasn’t encountered someone like the suspect in Houston, who reportedly cut off an ankle bracelet monitoring device.
According to KOMO News, the local ABC affiliate, under this new ordinance:
- Gun owners must report lost or stolen firearms “quickly.”
- Gun owners could be fined up to $500 for failure to lock up their guns.
- The fine could go up to $1,000 “if a minor or prohibited person gets their hands on an unsecured weapon.”
- If a minor or “prohibited person” uses an “unsecured firearm” in a crime or to hurt or kill someone, that fine could skyrocket to $10,000.
In 2004, then-Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske’s personal sidearm disappeared from his parked department car on a downtown Seattle street on the day after Christmas. If a gun is taken from inside a locked car, is that enough to prevent the civil fine? The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, offered a sizeable reward for recovery of the gun.