In their new emotional funding appeal, backers of Initiative 1639 in Washington State ignore Sunday’s intervention by armed citizens to stop a mass shooter. (Screen capture, YouTube, TIME)
Backers of a 30-page gun control initiative in Washington State are attempting to crank up public emotion to super charge signature gathering by talking about two high-profile shooting incidents – in New Jersey this week and South Carolina three years ago – while selectively ignoring Sunday’s incident in their own state, probably because a would-be mass shooter was stopped decisively by an armed citizen.
The email fund-raiser from backers of Initiative 1639 claims that the measure will address “the root causes of gun violence” by keeping so-called “assault weapons” out of “dangerous hands.” Those hands belong to tens of thousands of young adults in Evergreen State. They are considered mature enough to vote, enlist in the military, enter into contracts, get married and start families, but when it comes to owning the most popular sporting rifle in America, the initiative argues 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.” Essentially, I-1639 says these young adults are mature enough to vote away their rights, but not mature enough to exercise those rights, initiative opponents argue.
In addition to stripping young adults of their ability to purchase certain firearms, which has been legal for decades, the measure requires “enhanced background checks,” waiting periods, training, annual eligibility checks and “safe” storage. It also includes provisions for a fee of up to $25 “To help offset the administrative costs of implementing this section as it relates to new requirements for semiautomatic assault rifles.” Critics argue that this is a hidden tax and may actually violate the single-subject rule for citizen initiatives.
Under the measure, a “semiautomatic assault rifle” is defined 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.” Critics note that this broad language would classify such popular rimfire hunting and target rifles as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60 as “assault rifles.” Those rifles are popular for youngsters learning to hunt and shoot safely.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I-1639 is not the only problem facing Washington gun owners. Some municipalities are looking at gun “safety,” perhaps with an eye on challenging Washington’s 35-year-old preemption statute.
One such effort appears to be underway in Kirkland, an upscale Seattle suburb. The city will host a “town hall” event Wednesday evening at the Lake Washington High School theater – a so-called “gun-free zone’ – to discuss “actions the City might undertake to promote responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence in order to keep Kirkland safe.” Gun owners in the region are being encouraged to attend.