Opinion

Interpretation of Washington state gun laws | Firearms Lawyer

The Port of Seattle recently amended its rules to permit wearing a weapon in the passenger terminal outside of the areas where the metal detectors are located. The port is just one municipality that has quietly conformed to Washington state’s firearms preemption statute.

The City of Seattle is frivolously appealing King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer’s order to stop enforcing a city gun ban by Feb. 17, and to take down the "No Guns" signs that were posted at parks and community centers around the Emerald City.

The Port of Seattle and Seattle relied on Cherry v Metro, a case where a Metro bus driver that brought a gun to work — and could be fired because he was not a member of the public. Thus, state preemption law did not apply. Under state preemption, local governments are not permitted to enforce any gun-related ordinances that are more restrictive than Washington’s state gun laws.

As a result, Snohomish County is reportedly dropping its restrictions on guns in parks. To their credit, Yakima, Federal Way and many other cities and counties did not wait to see how the courts would interpret the preemption statute. Preemption encompasses anything that relates to 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 component. See RCW 9.41.290.

Last year, Federal Way’s City Council unanimously agreed with an opinion letter that we submitted in 2008. In January 2009, Federal Way amended its gun laws in accordance with state law.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels knew his edict violated state law; he earlier admitted in writing that he did not have authority to enact the restrictions on guns in the parks and other city property. He issued his decree without the Seattle City Council even voting on it.

Meanwhile, there is recognition by some King County Council members that the ordinance empowering the King County Executive to ban guns during an emergency violates state preemption. A federal statute imposes severe money damages in the event that state or local authorities confiscate weapons during an emergency.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule that state and local governments are subject to the Second Amendment. The case, McDonald v Chicago, will be decided in June — approximately two years after the landmark DC v Heller gun case.

Several states like Montana and Arizona have enacted Firearms Freedom laws to put the federal Leviathan on notice that the Tenth Amendment protects in-state commerce related to keeping and bearing arms and are battling the government in the courts. Additionally, a strong majority of state attorneys general have upheld their constitutional oaths by joining the McDonald v Chicago case.

But keep your eyes on the State Department, which quietly announced that the U.S. will begin taking steps toward signing the United Nations Small Arms Treaty. The biggest threat to the Constitution would be a widespread pattern of violence or threats of violence related to political turmoil. Sedition from the left or the right will subvert freedom more quickly than any ordinance, decree or treaty.

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