May 6, 2022 – In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington recently held that a city ordinance enacted by the City of Edmonds regulating the storage of firearms is preempted by state law. The ordinance was passed by the City Council in July 2018, and attempted to require firearm owners to keep their firearms “secured by a locking device” and inaccessible to persons “other than the owner or other lawfully authorized persons.” The ordinance imposed civil fines on anyone who stored firearms in a manner that did  not satisfy its requirements.  The Edmonds City ordinance, however, was more restrictive than a state law, Initiative 1639, passed by Washington State, which criminalized the unsafe storage of firearms, but did not specify how firearms must be stored.
The Washington Supreme Court held that the state legislature explicitly limited local firearm regulations pursuant to RCW 9.41.290, which provides that:
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.
The Court concluded that RCW 9.41.290 “broadly preempts local ordinances that directly regulate firearms themselves, but not necessarily ordinances that have an incidental effect on the use and enjoyment of firearms or exercises of municipal authority that do not establish rules of general application to the public.” Because the City of Edmonds ordinance was a rule of general application to the public that attempted to regulate firearms, the Washington Supreme Court concluded that it was preempted by state law. As such, the Edmonds ordinance was declared invalid.
The case was brought by three individuals, as well as the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association, and marks another win for the firearms industry in the midst of a national push for additional firearm restrictions and regulations.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor new and developing firearms legislation around the county.  If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation, please contact  John F. Renzullior Christopher Renzulli.