Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

National Rifle Association sues Seattle over gun storage law

The powerful gun lobbying named mayor Jenny Durkan personally in the lawsuit

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Saturday 21 July 2018 22:35 BST
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan holds a copy of the US Constitution while speaking at a gun control reform protest on 14 March 2018. She was recently named in a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan holds a copy of the US Constitution while speaking at a gun control reform protest on 14 March 2018. She was recently named in a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association (REUTERS/LINDSEY WASSON)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is suing Seattle over a city law requiring gun owners to lock up their firearms.

The lawsuit, brought by the NRA along with the Second Amendment Foundation and two city residents, was filed late last week in King County Superior Court in Washington state, which has a regulation prohibiting cities from issuing firearms regulations.

“Seattle simply can’t break the law to adopt an ordinance as a political statement,” Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said in a statement.

The legislation the lawsuit is opposing was passed earlier in July by a unanimous vote in the City Council.

Proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, the law says a gun owner could be fined up to $500 £380) if a firearm is not locked up and up to $1,000 (£761) if a minor, “at-risk person,” or unauthorised user accesses the weapon.

Gun owners can also face a fine of up to $10,000 if someone uses the weapon to injure someone or commit a crime.

Ms Durkan said on Twitter that in addition to the city, the lawsuit names her and recently-chosen Police Chief Carmen Best personally as defendants.

“If they think we are intimidated, they are mistaken,” Ms Durkan said, adding that she “will continue to fight for our kids”.

Florida student Emma Gonzalez passionately calls for gun control at rally after school shooting

Earlier this year she attended the National School Walkout protest on 14 March. Children walked out of schools to call for gun control reform in the wake of several school shootings. Ms Durkan said, holding a copy of the US Constitution: "I believe in the second amendment, but I've read this thing called the Constitution, and second amendment, meet the first amendment" about the right to free speech.

Given the national debate on gun control reform in the wake of several mass shootings - Las Vegas in October 2017 and the spate of school shootings including Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas - the lawsuit was not unexpected by pro gun-control groups including the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety and the law firm Orrick LLP, whose officials said previously they would represent Seattle at no charge.

“Frankly, this is no surprise,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement.

“The Mayor and Council are trying to prevent children from accessing guns with this Safe Storage legislation. If the NRA and SAF want to be on record fighting responsible gun ownership, that’s their choice,” Mr Holmes said.

Seattle residents Omar Abdul Alim and Michael Thyng are plaintiffs in the case and cite a fear of home invasions for keeping their firearms unlocked.

This is not the first time the powerful and well-funded gun rights lobbying membership organisation has sued the city, home to headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon.

In 2010, Seattle introduced a ban on firearms in city parks. The same groups sued the city and the law was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, violating citizens’ right to bear arms.

Last year, however, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled in favour of Seattle’s tax on guns.

The ordinance imposed a tax of $25 (£19) per firearm and two or five cents per round of ammunition. It raised $93,000 (£70, 779) in 2017.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in