A Legal Test for State Preemption

Seattle’s ‘Safe Storage’ Ordinance

A Seattle ordinance requiring “safe storage” of firearms is being challenged
as a violation of Washington’s 35-year-old preemption law.

The concept of state preemption — that is, a statute reserving all authority for setting gun laws in the hands of the legislature — is going to be tested in a Washington State courtroom, thanks to a unanimous ruling by an Appeals Court panel.

The appeals court reversed and remanded a lower court decision to dismiss a 2018 lawsuit challenging a Seattle ordinance requiring firearms owners in the city to lock up their guns when not in use.

Seattle is the state’s hotbed of extremist liberalism, and officials there dislike preemption with a passion. In July 2018, the city decided to challenge preemption by adopting a so-called “safe storage” requirement. The Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and two local residents promptly sued. The trial court judge tossed the case in October 2018 on the grounds none of the plaintiffs had standing. At the time, the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby cheered.

The laughter stopped a couple of weeks ago when the three-judge panel with Division 1 of the state Court of Appeals led by Acting Chief Judge Beth Andrus reversed the trial court judge’s decision and remanded “for further proceedings consistent with” the appeals court ruling. Now anti-gunners across the country are watching because any plans they may have had to challenge preemption statutes in their states are suddenly on hold.

The ruling should have a paralyzing effect on any other Evergreen State city government trying to pull the same thing, and one other city already has. Edmonds, a community north of Seattle, already lost its case under a SAF-NRA challenge.

The Seattle ordinance doesn’t define what “safe storage” is. You can buy a gun safe,
but is the requirement legal?

Model Law

Back in 1983, the Washington Legislature was forward-thinking enough to adopt a preemption statute, at the time a novel idea and a genuinely “progressive” approach to firearms regulation. Simply explained, preemption mandates uniformity of gun laws from one state border to the other. The Legislature sets the rules, and cities can’t fiddle with them.

Two years later, in 1985, the Washington law was strengthened, coincidentally the same year the NRA held its annual convention at the Seattle Center. As anyone might guess, it was a far different city then.

Washington’s law became a model for other states to follow, and a lot of them did. Thanks to a determined effort by NRA and its various state affiliates and grassroots activism, states began adopting their own versions of preemption, which made sense because gun laws should be uniform from one border to the other. That’s what a real “common sense gun law” does, and it infuriates “gun safety” fakers.

Today, 41 states have some form of preemption. Several states allow some exceptions, but there is typically not a lot of wiggle room for local governments to play games.


Why Do They Hate Preemption?

Municipal governments despise preemption laws because such statutes deny them power over the people living within their jurisdictions.

Regardless which state we’re talking about — and we’ve got the majority of states on that list — the pattern is the same. Find a state with a preemption statute and you will find somebody trying to get rid of it.

Anti-gunners like “patchwork quilt” gun laws. They confuse, they conflict and they catch law-abiding citizens unaware, turning them into criminals because they crossed an invisible line into a different jurisdiction. Situations like that led to preemption laws.

Anti-gun politicians hate such laws, but armed citizens love them. With preemption, what’s legal in one part of a state is legal in another part of the same state. There is no confusion. There is just common sense. There is no inconsistency, just uniformity.

Washington is a test tube for gun control schemes. If Seattle gets away with this,
the same requirement could be coming to your state.

Why’s it Important to You?

You don’t live in Washington state or anywhere near it. So, why should you give a rip?

The Evergreen State is essentially a gun control test tube. Anti-gunners even admit it. They try different schemes in Washington to see what works, or figure out why it doesn’t work, and then adjust their tactics accordingly to fit situations in other states.

Because Washington was one of the original preemption states (1983), if gun prohibitionists can take down that state’s law, they can learn from the experience and come after the law in your state.

Gun owners across the nation should pay attention to what happens in Washington. Activists who participate in the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference only half-jokingly tell Northwesterners they are living “behind enemy lines.”

Seattle Cops Calling it Quits

Not only have Seattle’s radical far left city officials made it rough on law-abiding gun owners, they’ve essentially declared war on police, and dozens of officers have quit the force, according to a report at MyNorthwest.com.

Reporter Hanna Scott — whom Insider has known professionally for several years — revealed between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 this year, “110 officers left the Seattle Police Department, and police sources say that number is likely to rise significantly over the next six to eight weeks.” That’s a lot of manpower headed down the road, leaving for other agencies in the region, or maybe out of the area.

Scott’s report talked about “exit interviews” released by Mayor Jenny Durkan, who was accused of losing control of her city over the summer as demonstrators rioted, looted and pillaged. They occupied a police precinct and took over several square blocks in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, turning Seattle into a national joke and/or an outrage.

In their notes, departing officers reportedly said such thing as:

• “I refuse to work for this socialist city council and their political agenda.”
• “City politics also is non-supportive and, at times, hostile toward officers.”
• “The utter lack of supervision, accountability for incompetent, despicable, lazy officers who were really good at gas lighting other hard workers.”
• “This agenda sacrifices the health and well-being of the officers and ultimately will destroy the fabric of this once fine city.”

Police Chief Carmen Best retired in September and will now work with a local television station as a consultant.

In the final scene of “High Noon,” Marshal Gary Cooper threw his badge in the dust. In Seattle, life imitates art.


They Sometimes Win

Seattle cops occasionally win one, although it does help if the suspect is a bonehead. Lawmen and women, follow along with this because you’re likely to have had a similar experience.

During the Seattle riots earlier this year, a suspect identified as Tyre Means Jr. allegedly set fire to a Seattle Police vehicle and stole a patrol rifle in the process. The May 30 caper involved lighter fluid and a paper towel, and no small degree of stupid.

The rifle was recovered after the suspect got into a fistfight with another guy and a bystander grabbed the rifle case, later turning it over to police. According to a report at KOMO News, the suspect was bagged last month after police were able to identify him back on Aug. 12, thanks to a determined investigation. But it’s how they got him that is the punch line.

Our hero was tracked down in Bremerton, on the far side of Puget Sound from Seattle, while he was engaged in a “visit” with the state Department of Corrections. Uh huh, the suspect has two prior felony convictions in Georgia and a third in Washington State, so he’s facing 5-20 years in prison for arson and another 10 years for theft of a firearm and illegal gun possession. If you’re under DOC supervision, don’t touch guns and don’t set fires.

Somehow, “oops” just doesn’t cover this guy’s troubles.


Toy with This Guy

Maybe if all crooks were as dumb as a man in Gadsden, Alabama allegedly was last month, police would stay on the job just for the amusement factor.

According to WBMA News, the suspect in this little tome is David Martin Coshatt, described as a man who “had prior felonies.” He has been charged with First-degree robbery because he allegedly stuck up a grocery and held two clerks at gunpoint. Well, that’s not quite accurate. He allegedly held them at toy gun point, it turns out.

This tells us a couple of things. First, maybe toy guns look too realistic these days. Or, maybe your average store clerk doesn’t know the difference between a toy gun and a real roscoe. Either way, the suspect was arrested at his home within hours of the holdup. Maybe somebody saw him run out of the store and climb into a silver Chevy Malibu. Don’t see one of those every day.

At last report, the suspect was cooling his heels in the slammer, on a $201,000 “surety bond.”