More questions for sponsors of Initiative 1639 in Washington State have been raised. (Screen snip, Facebook)
Buried in the text of a controversial gun control initiative now gathering signatures in Washington State is a proposed change in the language of a pamphlet published by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife that would eliminate notification to gun buyers about the state preemption law that essentially nullifies local laws and ordinances on firearms.
Initiative 1639 is a sweeping measure being touted as a “safe schools, safe communities” effort by prohibiting young adults aged 18-20 from purchasing so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles,” though veteran shooters and gun rights activists insist there is no such thing. The initiative, sponsored by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group, must collect more than 259,600 valid signatures from voters by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.
But the measure is being criticized by rights activists on several fronts, and earlier this week, an attorney representing the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms sent a letter to the sponsors, warning them about a potential problem regarding the type size used to publish the text of the initiative on the back side of petition forms. SAF and CCRKBA are headquartered in Bellevue, located just across Lake Washington from Seattle. They have received complaints from several people that the small type used to print the text of the 30-page initiative is unreadable.
Now comes this new discovery, which may seem inconsequential to average citizens, but is paramount to the firearms community. And there may be more bad news on the horizon, according to a SAF news release Friday morning.
Washington’s 35-year-old preemption statute has been a thorn in the side of Evergreen State anti-gunners for decades. Prior to its adoption in 1983, the state had no gun law uniformity. Preemption changed that via this language:
“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, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Seattle’s legislative delegation and city officials have tried to erode or erase this statute repeatedly. They want to adopt their own gun control laws.
Another provision in the initiative would require a new warning to appear on an application to purchase a “semiautomatic assault rifle.” This warning would state, “CAUTION: The presence of a firearm in the home has been associated with an increased risk of death to self and others, including an increased risk of suicide, death during domestic violence incidents, and unintentional deaths to children and others.”
Why would the initiative sponsors want to warn people about suicide and homicide but not remind them of the existence of state preemption? That’s the legislative guarantee that assures people that the law in Spokane is also the law in Seattle.
Initiative opponents are waging a grassroots effort to keep the measure off the ballot. They have mounted a “decline2sign1639” campaign via social media. They are also not happy with how various signs posted at the tables of paid signature gatherers appear to associate I-1639 with $30 car tabs (a separate measure) and a grocery tax (also a separate measure).
Other activists are simply urging people to read I-1639 before signing, which apparently has made them aware of the small type issue.
The opposition group Save Our Security (“SOS”) has a website that seems to be getting lots of traffic. So has the Gun Rights Coalition Facebook page.