WA HIGH COURT UPHOLDS STATE PREEMPTION IN SAF LAWSUIT v. CITY OF EDMONDS

BELLEVUE, WA – In a unanimous decision today, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation against the City of Edmonds for violating the state’s firearms preemption law, which the Court upheld, have standing to bring the action. 

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Steven C. González stated, “We hold that the plaintiffs have standing and that this ordinance is preempted by RCW 9.41.290. We affirm the Court of Appeals and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

SAF was joined in the case, known as Bass v. City of Edmonds, by the National Rifle Association and three private citizens, Swan Seaberg, Curtis McCullough and Brett Bass, for whom the lawsuit is named. 

The city had adopted a so-called “safe storage” mandate for firearms owners living within Edmonds city limits. But in 1985, the State Legislature adopted the state statute, preempting “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…”

“This is a great victory for the principle of state preemption,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “This should send a signal to other municipal governments—especially the City of Seattle against which we have a nearly identical pending lawsuit—that they cannot enact their own gun restrictions in violation of state law or the state constitution.

“We will not tolerate anti-gun politicians who violate the law in order to pass laws to restrict our rights,” he added.

In his ruling, Chief Justice González stated, “We decline to limit the preemption statute to firearms’ transactions and active use. That limitation is simply not consistent with the words of the statute as a whole.” A few lines later, he added, “The legislature plainly meant to broadly preempt local lawmaking concerning firearms except where specifically authorized in chapter 9.41 RCW or other statutes…Accordingly, we hold that this ordinance is preempted by state law.”

“Washington adopted state preemption nearly 40 years ago,” Gottlieb said, “and we will defend it vigorously, because it is plain common sense. We’re grateful the state’s highest court unanimously shares that opinion. This is another example of SAF fulfilling its mission to win firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”


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