By: Robert Davis
Seattle’s Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed legislation recently to penalize gun owners for failing to lock-up and secure their firearms inside their home.
Gun owners must “secure [their] firearm[s] with a trigger or cable lock engaged or in a locked container equipped with a tamper-resistant lock,” the proposed legislation says. Violators can be held liable for any injury to a person or property within a five-year statute of limitations.
The ordinances would also make it a civil infraction if an “at-risk” person were to get hold of a firearm and cause injury, and would penalize violators with a fine of up to $10,000.
Washington State has a preemption law on the books requiring “cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities [to] enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law.”
“Seattle already tried this, was taken to court, and lost the case. This is Chapter Two of the same story,” Joe Waldron, chairman of Gun Owners Action League of Washington, a gun-rights political action committee, told Gunpowder Magazine.
A firearms instructor for more than 40 years, Waldron says all guns should be secured around children and prohibited persons; however, when local or state government tries to tell gun owners how to handle their firearms inside their own homes, it becomes a Fourth Amendment issue, rather than a Second Amendment issue.
Seattle attempted to pass an outright gun ban when Greg Nickels was mayor in 2008.
It was challenged in Winnie Chan v. City of Seattle, and the Washington State Supreme Court ruled it a violation of state preemption laws. The city appealed the ruling to the State Court of Appeals, where it lost by unanimous decision.
Durkan’s ordinances would pose a problem for State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who would have to show Durkan’s proposal doesn’t violate those laws.
“The biggest problem I see from Durkan’s proposed legislation is how it will be enforced,” Dave Workman, senior editor at The Gun Magazine, told GPM. “Are cops going to be sent to gun owners’ homes to check and see if their firearms are safely stored? Without a warrant, they have no right.
“People like Durkan never talk to gun people when they propose legislation like this. It always comes from the gun control lobby,” Waldron said.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with comments or tips at [email protected]