U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- A Washington State congresswoman has joined forces with a New York congressman to introduce federal legislation that would mandate so-called “safe storage” of firearms, a bill that underscores what Northwest Second Amendment activists have been warning about: The Evergreen State is a test tube for gun control legislation because Seattle and nearby Edmonds have adopted such a requirement.
Democrat U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), whose district covers Edmonds and Seattle, announced the proposed Safe Gun Storage Act with Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16). If passed, it would “direct the Consumer Protection Safety Commission to establish safety standards for firearm safes and firearm locks,” according to a joint news release.
When Seattle and Edmonds adopted the safe storage requirements, they were quickly sued by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, and residents of both communities. Lawsuits against both cities allege the requirements violate the state’s 35-year-old preemption law, which a King County court rejected in the Seattle action but a court in neighboring Snohomish County, where Edmonds is located, last week said the Edmonds regulation does violate the state law. That case is undoubtedly headed for the appeals court.
Local municipalities have been trying to nullify or repeal state preemption for more than three decades. Under Washington’s model law, the Legislature has sole authority to regulate firearms within the state border. Here’s what the preemption law states:
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts 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, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Some Evergreen State rights activists also contend the safe storage requirements might run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the high court said this (Page 58):
“We must also address the District’s requirement (as applied to respondent’s handgun) that firearms in the home be rendered and kept inoperable at all times. This makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. The District argues that we should interpret this element of the statute to contain an exception for self-defense…But we think that is precluded by the unequivocal text, and by the presence of certain other enumerated exceptions: “Except for law enforcement personnel . . ., each registrant shall keep any firearm in his possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device unless such firearm is kept at his place of business, or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within the District of Columbia.” D. C. Code §7–2507.02. The nonexistence of a self-defense exception is also suggested by the D. C. Court of Appeals’ statement that the statute forbids residents to use firearms to stop intruders, see McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A. 2d 744, 755–756 (1978).”
Whether those activists are correct is a matter of speculation at this point. The storage requirement has not been challenged in federal court on constitutional grounds.
A report at MyNorthwest.com noted, “Seattle’s storage law states that firearms should be stored in a locked container and rendered unusable by any person other than the authorized user. It is a civil infraction if a minor or unauthorized person accesses a gun. Fines are imposed between $500 and $1,000 on the owner. If someone commits a crime with the owner’s gun, fines go up to $10,000 and the owner will be considered negligent.”
The Jayapal-Engel news release stated, “According to a 2018 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey, 54% of gun owners report not storing their firearms safely, and 34% of these homes had children 18 years or younger in the home. 18% of all gun injuries in our nation occur because of improperly stored firearms in homes.”
It is not clear how Johns Hopkins Bloomberg defined “safe storage” that is apparently not being practiced by the 54 percent of survey participants cited.
Both lawmakers are promoting their bill as a preventive measure to reduce suicides and accidents involving youngsters. However, Northwest rights activists contend this is just one more manifestation of gun control, with different packaging.
MyNorthwest.com said Engel’s office asserted, “studies have shown that a 10 percent increase in households with guns equates to a 25 percent increase in suicides by firearms. Also, in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 60 percent of all firearm deaths were from suicides; in 2017, 43 percent of all youth suicides involved guns…Seattle passed a safe gun storage law in 2018. When it was proposed, city officials cited similar issues with gun storage — that 150,000 adults in King County were estimated to store their guns unlocked. Also, about 250 guns were reported as stolen in 2017.”
Washington’s King County is the center of the Northwest gun control universe. It encompasses Seattle. Yet, the state Department of Licensing reported more than 100,200 active concealed pistol licenses in that county at the end of September. It’s the highest number of any county in the state, which has more than 631,000 active CPLs at last report.
About Dave Workman