No shooting signs and WA shooting preemption

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by alexwa, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. alexwa

    Kirkland, King County, WA
    New Member

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    Hi Guys,

    I am new to the forum. I recently got a CPL and have been reading the WA state laws. My question is about discharging firearms – there are signs on public land that say - discharging a firearm prohibited, unless hunting season and hunting.

    Would this mean that the area is safe for firearm discharge, if so would this fall under state preemption (please see below). That firearm discharge ordinances may be enacted only if there is a likelihood of property/human/animal damage.

    In the forums, I’ve come across posts about closed shooting areas due to litter – wouldn’t this also fall under the WA state preemption laws.


    RCW 9.41.290 - State preemption- “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, ”

    RCW 9.41.300 –
    (2) Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities may enact laws and ordinances:
    (a) Restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized. Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others;
  2. tionico

    Thurston County
    Well-Known Member

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    Bottom line, lesser jurisdictions (lower than state level) DO have the authority to make judgement calls about the safety of firearms discharge in areas of their choosing Of course (what else?) many do so unnecessarily, but it does appear such unreasonable restrictions can be challenged.. but the burden of proof likely falls on the one challenging. And, until a given area is declared legal for shooting, doing so is a violation of law. Private landowners do have the right to prohibit discharge on their property, but it must be posted.... and is grounds for trespassing if not observed.

    All of which is why Seattle's dingbat mayor has his knickers in a twist, wanting to prohibit firearms in city properties.... but he can't because of state preemption law. Of course, he can, and does, prohibit discharge within city limits... but I'd have to agree. How crazy would it be to have someone doing target practice down Fourth Ave at Pike?
  3. Oro

    Western WA
    Active Member

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    Regardless of jurisdiction, I think what alexwa is pointing out is the very clearly contradictory nature of posting that firearms discharge is allowed during hunting season only.

    There is a rebuttable presumption that if discharge of a firearm is safe during hunting season, it's safe at other times. How can it be, for example, less safe in February vs. November? Or March vs. January, etc.? As he has quoted it (and I have not read the full text) RCW 9.41.300 allows municipalities to restrict firearms discharge, a right that the state reserves onto itself in 9.41.290, only in cases of safety. It does not permit them to do it for convenience, such as noise abatement.

    I have no answer, but I think it's an interesting conflict he's pointed out. If there are not other interposing laws, then there's a strong argument that any local municipality is vulnerable to a lawsuit for closing a public shooting area that is otherwise open at other times of the year, or that is rural enough or safe enough that the "safety" argument can not reasonably apply.

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