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Victory for gun rights advocates challenging Seattle’s safe storage law

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Gun rights advocates are celebrating after a lawsuit challenging Seattle’s safe storage law got new life in a state appeals court decision Monday.

It’s been over two years since Seattle passed its safe storage law requiring gun owners to safely store their firearms or face fines up to $10,000 should they fall into the wrong hands and be used in a crime, or hurt or kill someone intentionally or otherwise.

The new rules were nearly immediately challenged in court in a lawsuit filed by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, the NRA, and others who claim it violates the state’s pre-emption law. The law bars local municipalities from enacting gun restrictions that go beyond current state law.

A King County Superior Court judge tossed the lawsuit in October 2018, citing a lack of standing on the part of plaintiffs. Because of that, the question of whether the safe gun storage law violates Washington state law remained undetermined in a court of law.

The plaintiffs appealed and the state appeals court heard arguments over a year ago. On Monday, the state appeals court reversed the lower court ruling, finding the plaintiffs did have standing.

“We conclude that justiciability defects do not remove a superior court’s subject matter jurisdiction and that the challengers have plausibly alleged a justiciable controversy under the appropriate CR 12(b)(6) standard. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” the court found.

“It’s a great victory for the Second Amendment Foundation and our case against Seattle,” said Alan Gotlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation.

“We have to have a trial on the merits of the case, which I believe we will win eventually,” he added.

“We’re reviewing the decision and will confer with our pro bono legal counsel on our potential next steps,” said Dan Nolte with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.

The city can decide to appeal the appeals court decision to the state Supreme Court, or go to trial in the lower court on the merits.

Gun rights advocates are looking forward to their day in court.

“That’s going to be great now because we can finally move ahead,” Gotlieb said. “A lot of our cases in Washington state have been stalled and taken a long time to actually get resolved and it’s because they really don’t want to rule in our favor, but they know eventually they’re going to have to.”

He also pointed to their recent victory in a similar legal challenge against the city of Edmonds as a good sign for their fight against the Seattle law.

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