Court Reinstates Lawsuit Over Seattle Gun Storage Requirements

Gun owners in Washington State won a victory on Monday after a state appellate court ruled that a challenge to Seattle’s gun storage law can proceed, overturning a Superior Court ruling from 2018 asserting that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to sue over the requirements.

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb says his group, which brought the original lawsuit, is pleased by the decision of the appeals court.

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

“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.”

Gottlieb notes that the challenge to Seattle’s storage law isn’t the first lawsuit filed in the state over gun storage requirements. Last October a Snohomish County judge struck down an identical gun storage law in the city of Edmonds, ruling that the requirement violated state statutes.

Both Edmonds’ and Seattle’s storage laws require gun owners to keep all firearms in a locked container unless they are being carried in the home or “under the control” of the gun owner. Those found to have violated the ordinance can face fines of up to $10,000, though it’s unclear if anyone in Seattle has actually been charged since the law took effect in February of 2019.

Seattle officials now have to decide if they’ll appeal the recent court decision to the state Supreme Court, or if they’ll drop their objections to standing and proceed to trial. My guess is that they’ll drag out the legal fight for as long as possible, which means asking the state Supreme Court to reject the appeals court ruling and declare the lawsuit null and void. Before city officials take that step, however, they’ll be consulting with the litigation wing of Everytown for Gun Safety, which is representing the city pro bono in its defense of the ordinance. Ultimately, it sounds like Mayor Jenny Durkan will do whatever Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun attorneys recommend, even if it violates the Second Amendment rights of Seattle residents.