A judge in the state of Washington has upheld Seattle’s gun storage law, dismissing a lawsuit filed by Second Amendment supporters on technical grounds. King County Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde ruled Oct. 19 that the plaintiffs lacked standing in suing over a law that had yet to take effect.
In doing so, the judge avoided addressing the fact that the state of Washington already has a law on its books that states no local municipality can regulate guns on its own. Seattle would appear to be in clear violation of this statute.
“It is frustrating when judges refuse to address the merits of a case and duck by saying the law is not yet in effect and plaintiffs have not proven that they will be arrested if they violate the law,” Alan Gottlieb, president of the Second Amendment Foundation, said in an email to The Seattle Times. “We will continue this litigation and force a judge to rule that the law is illegal.”
Manacling a Right
The upcoming law mandates that guns be secured under some form of lock when not being carried by the owner. Gun-rights advocates point out with perfect logic that this would leave citizens who purchase guns with the explicit intention of keeping their homes safe disarmed and defenseless if a home invasion were to suddenly occur. After breaking into your home, criminals are highly unlikely to stand by patiently while you unlock a safe, undo a trigger lock, and load your self-defense weapon.
Councilmember Kathy Lambert aptly attributed the legislation to an urban-dwelling progressive mindset that has no understanding of those who reside outside of gentrifying city neighborhoods. Lambert opposed the measure when it passed Oct. 1, saying rural citizens in unincorporated parts of King County need quick and reliable access to their guns due to their greater distance from local police officials.
“It’s another example of [the council] not understanding how people who live in the rural area use their guns as a tool,” Lambert said of the law, The Seattle Weekly reports.
While Seattle would impose fines as high as $10,000 to those who violate the gun storage law, a ballot initiative that goes before Washington state voters on Nov. 6 would leave gun storage scofflaws open to criminal charges.
I-1639 is being slammed by gun rights supporters for its vague and open-ended wording on the criminal prosecution of gun owners who do not secure their weapons to the satisfaction of the state.
“The onus is not on the thief, but the victim of theft.”
A gun owner can face felony charges under the proposed initiative if his gun is taken and used by anyone barred from owning a gun, if it is determined that the gun had been left in a place where the owner should “reasonably know” it could have been accessed by someone who should not have a gun. Gun owners who have their weapons stolen will thus be left at the mercy of the state’s interpretation of just what that word “reasonable” means.
“Imagine a situation in which somebody is storing a gun in their own house in a manner they deem acceptable and somebody breaks in and steals that weapon,” local gun rights supporter Kelburn Koontz told The Daily News, a Longview, WA,newspaper.
“If that weapon is used in a crime, the registered owner can be charged with a felony,” Koontz continued. “The onus is not on the thief, but the victim of theft.”
Gun shop owner Scoot Hooper is equally alarmed by the elastic nature of the wording.
“It’s very vague,” Hooper told The Daily News. “It doesn’t say how a gun has to be locked up. It just says if somebody gets a hold of it… and they use it in a crime, then you, the gun owner, can be charged with up to a class C felony and a year in prison.”
Rich vs. Rural
A partisan attack on gun rights.
A partisan attack on gun rights.
As seems the norm today, both the Seattle gun law and the Washington state initiative have the backing of powerful billionaires. Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder who died Oct. 15, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer each donated $1 million to push I-1639. And the nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that the Seattle Times reports is “largely financed” by former New York City mayor and potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, footed the bill for Seattle’s defense in the lawsuit over its gun storage law.
Washington state citizen Koontz no doubt speaks for many small-town residents when he says the statewide ballot initiative is a partisan attack on gun rights.
“I-1639 is 30 pages worth of anti-gun rhetoric and is also a thinly veiled gun grab. It is a partial gun ban on young adults, and an attack on the poor that wish to practice prudent and responsible self-defense,” said Koontz.
Better stated, it is another vehicle for moneyed elites of a certain political stripe to further their cultural war against rural Americans and a way of life that they personally despise.