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Snohomish County judge rules against Edmonds gun storage law

Gun safes by Safe Tracker, based in Tukwila. (Heather Bosch, KIRO Radio)

A Snohomish County judge says an Edmonds safe gun storage requirement violates state law.

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Several residents sued over Edmonds safe storage law, which requires gun owners to lock up their weapons.

The lawsuit was backed by the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation, and was nearly identical to a recent lawsuit filed over Seattle’s own safe storage law. Last a year a King County judge tossed out that lawsuit out, although that decision has since been appealed.

On Friday, a victory was scored for what’s been an ongoing battle against gun storage laws.

“A Snohomish County Superior Court Judge ruled (the safe storage) law is not legal under our state preemption law, which we said all along,” said the 2nd Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb.

The state’s preemption law bars cities and counties from enacting tougher gun laws than the state. And while that argument got guns rights activists nowhere in Seattle, it seems it was very clear to a Snohomish County judge.

That said, while the judge found Edmonds can’t legally require people to lock up their guns, she did leave in place the ability to levy civil fines in situations where a child gets a hold of the gun and uses it. A gun owner can still be fined up to $1,000 if a child or thief gets unauthorized access to their firearm. If a person in that scenario uses the gun to commit a crime, additional fines could get up around $10,000.

Gottlieb says this ruling is a big victory for the gun rights side of what’s been a heated debate in Washington.

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“Eventually this case is going to go to the state Supreme Court, and I expect to win,” he said, noting that he also expects it to be “a long legal battle.”

As for what it means for Seattle, the answer is “not much,” at least for the time being.

“Superior Court decisions aren’t binding on other jurisdictions, so [there’s] no immediate direct effect,” said the City Attorney’s Office in a written statement. “The plaintiffs in our case appealed to the Court of Appeals, and oral argument hasn’t yet been scheduled. For the time being, Seattle’s law remains in effect. So does Initiative 1639.”

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