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Washington Appeals Court Unanimously Strikes Down Local Gun-Control Law

Stephen Gutowski - Washington Free Beacon  | Published on 3/1/2021

A Washington appeals court struck down an onerous local gun storage ordinance in a victory for Second Amendment activists, who pushed a state law designed to stop strict gun laws from popping up in liberal localities.

The Court of Appeals for the State of Washington unanimously ruled Edmonds, Washington, violated state law when it instituted rules for how people must store firearms inside their own homes. The ordinance conflicts with a law that blocks localities from making their own gun regulations. Second Amendment activists advanced so-called state preemption laws to protect gun owners from having to navigate a patchwork of local regulations. Gun-control activists have objected to such laws as being too restrictive on local authority.

The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, which jointly filed the suit against the ordinance, cheered the ruling. 

"Today's ruling is an important victory for the people of Washington," Lars Dalseide, NRA Washington state spokesman, said in a statement.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon the win will also "help the cause of protecting preemption nationally." Gun-control advocates have pushed cities and localities in Washington and across the country to pass gun restrictions in an effort to test the limits of preemption laws. They have had little success at circumventing or overturning them thus far and Gottlieb said Monday's win will only strengthen the legal case for state preemption laws.

Edmonds mayor Mike Nelson did not return a request for comment.

Activists have filed suits to challenge gun-control laws in other cities. They are confident that the precedent set in the Edmonds suit will have a domino effect in other Democratic strongholds in the state. Gottlieb said the ruling provides more ammunition in the gun groups' case against a gun storage ordinance in Seattle.

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

Gottlieb said the victory will help in similar cases nationwide but it is unlikely gun-control advocates will abandon the push for local gun ordinances anytime soon.

"I don't expect them to slow down and go away," Gottlieb said. "They hate preemption."