SAFs Alan Gottlieb announced a Washington State Supreme Court challenge to Initiative 1639, a new gun control measure. (Dave Workman)
Two gun rights organizations based in Bellevue, Wash., have asked that state’s Supreme Court to enjoin the Secretary of State from acting on Initiative 1639, a gun control measure that would change state gun law, on the grounds that petitions circulated to gather signatures did not include a “full, true, and correct copy of the proposed measure printed on the reverse side.”
An attorney for the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms petitioned the state high court in Olympia Friday.
While petitions did feature a version of the initiative language, in very small type that many complained was unreadable, a careful examination revealed that the printed copy does not contain any underlines or strike-outs that would identify proposed new statute language, and language that would be removed from existing law.
“We publicly warned the initiative sponsors about these problems and they ignored us,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “We are now taking the issue to the state high court to seek a declaratory judgment and injunction.”
Liberty Park Press reported on this issue earlier.
According to Gottlieb, both organizations received several complaints from members and supporters about the readability. But it was only upon close examination of a petition copy that the bigger problem was noticed.
“How were voters supposed to know what they’re being asked to change? How could they tell the difference between what would become law, and what would be replaced?”—Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation
Many of those who complained also said that when they complained to signature gatherers about the fine print on the petition, they were told they could “read it online.”
“That simply did not meet the requirements of state law,” Gottlieb said. “Use of such fine print is unconscionable, and when you compound that problem with the omission of underlines for proposed changes to existing law, and strike-out lines showing what current law would be eliminated, it’s not just alarming, it amounts to deception.”
SAF and CCRKBA are represented by Olympia attorney Shawn Timothy Newman.
I-1639 is the latest gun control effort by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Seattle-based lobbying group that also sponsored Initiative 594 in 2014. That measure requires so-called “universal background checks,” and was offered as a way to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
This new initiative would raise the minimum age limit to purchase a semiautomatic modern sporting rifle from 18 to 21 years, require a so-called “enhanced background check,” safety training, a ten-day waiting period on the purchase of any such rifle, “safe storage,” and annual checks on people who purchase such rifles or handguns remain eligible to possess them. Many in the gun rights community contend that will be impossible without some type of state gun registration. The full and complete measure may be read here.
Additionally, according to Gottlieb, language in the measure could be interpreted to classify popular .22-caliber traditional sporting rifles as “assault rifles.” The initiative defines a “semiautomatic assault rifle” as “any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. ‘Semiautomatic assault rifle’ does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.”
That could include such models as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60, which are used for recreational shooting, firearms instruction, small game hunting and other common tasks.
The measure also allows for a fee of up to $25 to process paperwork associated with the new requirements, and critics contend this amounts to a hidden tax on the exercise of a constitutional right.
Both the federal and Washington state constitutions contain provisions on the right to keep and bear arms.
Ironically, while voters in the 18-20-year age group will be courted to vote for the measure, if it makes it to the November ballot, the initiative contains language up front that “studies show that eighteen to twenty year olds commit a disproportionate number of firearm homicides in the United States and research indicates that the brain does not fully mature until a later age.”
“Just because this initiative is supported by wealthy Seattle elitists doesn’t mean it could be circulated in a form that violates the law,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement. “The court needs to step in enforce state law and the state constitution.”
He also offered this observation: “Gun control groups constantly insist that gun owners follow the law. Well, anti-gunners have to obey the law, as well.”