Fairfax, Va. – The Washington state Supreme Court has declined to review an October decision by the state Court of Appeals, reaffirming that the gun ban in Seattle’s parks is illegal. This order marks a final victory for Seattle-area gun owners, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), who had joined together to block enforcement of the ban.
"The Washington Supreme Court made the right decision in recognizing that the city violated state law," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "This decision is a clear indication why it's critically important for states to enact strong preemption laws, to prevent local governments from imposing a patchwork of firearm restrictions."
The case of Chan v. City of Seattle began in 2008, when the city of Seattle and then-Mayor Greg Nickels (D) enacted a rule that banned firearms and "dangerous weapons" from city parks, community centers and other city properties. In 2009, the city added another rule that banned guns from parks where children are "likely to be present."
In October 2009, the NRA and SAF asked the King County Superior Court to strike down the ban as a violation of Washington's preemption statute, which forbids localities from enacting this type of ban. Specifically, the preemption statute says the state preempts the field of firearm regulation, and prohibits cities from regulating firearms—a position supported by an Oct. 2008 legal opinion from state Attorney General Rob McKenna (R).
In response, the city claimed the ban wasn’t a "law" or a criminal regulation, and that it was acting in its "proprietary capacity" as a property owner.
In February 2010, the Superior Court of King County struck down the Seattle rule banning firearms from city parks, including possession by Right-to-Carry permit holders. The city appealed.
In its Oct. 31 ruling, the Court of Appeals panel wrote: "We hold that under the plain language of RCW 9.41.290 and RCW 9.41.300, the City’s attempt to regulate the possession of firearms at designated park areas and park facilities open to the public by adopting the Firearms Rule, is preempted by state law."
The opinion further stated, "The Firearms Rule regulates the possession of firearms at designated city parks and park facilities open to the general public. [The case law on which the City relies] does not support the City’s position that RCW 9.41.290 does not apply because it is acting as a property owner and setting conditions on use of its property. Except as authorized by the legislature, RCW 9.41.290 precludes a municipality from regulating the possession of firearms at city-owned park facilities open to the general public."
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services.