Will Seattle’s new gun storage regulation hold up in court?
City gun control laws and regulations are generally preempted by Washington state law. Seattle’s latest firearm regulations will test the boundaries of how far a city can go.
“The reason the city might not be preempted by state law is that they’re regulating storage, not ownership or possession,” former state Attorney General Rob McKenna told Seattle’s Morning News.
Even so, McKenna says a court challenge is inevitable. The courts will have to decide whether requiring gun owners to lock up their firearms falls under health and public safety. If that is the case, then Seattle’s law will likely be upheld because all cities have some authority when improving public health.
When the challenge comes, the courts will also decide if proper storage already falls under the state’s firearm possession laws, McKenna says.
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved two gun control regulations on Monday, July 9. Originally proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, the regulations require gun owners to store their firearms in a locked container and render them unusable to anyone other than the owner or authorized users. What meets the definition of locked container? We wondered the same thing.
Under the current regulations, a gun owner can receive a civil infraction if a minor, at-risk, or prohibited person obtains a gun when the owner should have known they would have access to it. Violation of the storage law or unauthorized access could result in a fine of up to $1,000. If a gun is used to commit a crime, the gun owner could be fined up to $10,000. Read more about the regulations here.
McKenna says these penalties are another example of the city “testing limits that haven’t been tested before.”
“They’ll also argue this won’t have much of a deterrent effect because most people won’t realize they are subject to this kind of liability, if, in fact, this kind of liability can be imposed,” McKenna says.
Listen to the entire conversation here.
- Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.