United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS
B. Leighton, United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Chuck Atkins and
Craig Meidl's Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First
Amended Complaint (FAC). Dkt. #32 & #34. Plaintiffs are a
group consisting of gun dealers (“Dealers”),
aspiring gun owners under the age of 21 (“Young
Adults”), and gun rights advocacy organizations. They
seek a declaration that several of I-1639's amendments to
Washington's gun control laws are unconstitutional and
ask the Court to enjoin enforcement. Specifically, Plaintiffs
challenge the portions of the initiative that prohibit the
sale of pistols and semiautomatic assault rifles to
individuals under the age of 21 and prohibit the sale of
semiautomatic assault rifles to residents of another state.
They also allege a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing
that the challenged portions of I-1639 infringe their Second
Amendment rights and violate the Commerce Clause.
is the Sheriff of Clark County and Meidl is the Chief of
Police of Spokane. They argue that Plaintiffs lack standing
to assert a claim against them because neither officer has
enforced I-1639 against Plaintiffs or threatened to do so.
Atkins and Meidl also contend that they are not proper
defendants in this action because any potential injuries
Plaintiffs suffered are the result of I-1639 itself, not its
enforcement. Finally, Atkins and Meidl assert that
Plaintiffs' 1983 claim fails because Clark County and
Spokane's enforcement of I-1639 is non-discretionary.
following reasons, Atkins and Meidl's Motions to Dismiss
are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
filed this action in February of 2019. Their lawsuit
challenges the constitutionality of sections 12 and 13 of
I-1639, which was approved by voters in 2018. Section 12
amends RCW 9.41.124, which formerly permitted out-of-state
individuals to purchase any weapon available to Washington
residents. The amendment created by I-1639 creates an
exception for “firearms defined as semiautomatic
assault rifles.” RCW 9.41.124.
13 amends RCW 9.41.240 to include the following: “A
person under twenty-one years of age may not purchase a
pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle, and except as
otherwise provided in this chapter, no person may sell or
transfer a semiautomatic assault rifle to a person under
twenty-one years of age.” Section 13 also changes the
rules around possession of semiautomatic assault rifles for
young adults, but Plaintiffs do not appear to challenge those
it is not directly challenged in this lawsuit, section 3 of
I-1369 amends the procedures for background checks under RCW
9.41.090. Background checks are now required for all sales of
semiautomatic assault rifles as well as pistols. RCW
9.41.090(6)(a). Dealers are required to collect an
application from the purchaser containing certain information
and send it to the chief of police of the municipality or the
sheriff of the county, or the state if it opts to set up its
own background check system. RCW 9.41.090(3)(b), (6)(c). The
relevant authority has the power to deny the application if
the applicant is ineligible to purchase the firearm under any
state or federal law. RCW 9.41.090(6)(c). This, too, is a
change from the previous law, which only allowed the
authority to deny the application under state law if the
purchaser was ineligible for reasons related to criminal
history. See RCW 9.41.040.
the Plaintiffs, Daniel Mitchell and Robin Ball, are licensed
firearm dealers from Vancouver and Spokane, respectively.
Dkt. #17 at 2. Plaintiffs Luke Rettmer, Nathaniel Casey,
Armen Tooloee, and Mathew Wald are all Washington residents
under the age of 21 but over the age of 18. Id. at
3. According to the FAC, each of the Young Adults contacted
one of the Dealers on a specific date to inquire about
purchasing a semiautomatic assault rifle. Id. at
7-10. When the Young Adults stated their age, the Dealers
informed them that they could not sell them semiautomatic
rifles under the new Washington law because of the risk it
would pose to their licensed status. Id. The FAC
alleges that this harmed the Young Adults by infringing their
Second Amendment rights and harmed the Dealers by causing
them to lose profits. Id. at 7-11.
also alleges that both of the Dealers received their licenses
from Atkins or Meidl and that the officers have the authority
to revoke their licenses. Id. at 4. While Meidl has
apparently not made a statement about Washington's gun
laws, Atkins allegedly expressed that “[t]he Clark
County Sheriff's Office will adhere to the law as passed
by a vote of the people unless a court rules that it is
unconstitutional.” Id. at 6.
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) may be based on either the lack
of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient
facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri
v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th
Cir. 1990). A plaintiff's complaint must allege facts to
state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A
claim has “facial plausibility” when the party
seeking relief “pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
Although the court must accept as true the Complaint's
well-pled facts, conclusory allegations of law and
unwarranted inferences will not defeat an otherwise proper
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Vazquez v. Los Angeles
Cty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007); Sprewell
v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.
2001). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. Factual allegations must be ...