My state of birth is Washington State. I was fortunate to grow up in a state with stunning mountains, plentiful pine trees, and more sunshine than one might expect. When I started shooting and hunting I discovered something else: Washington State had darn good laws relating to gun rights and awesome hunting opportunities.
Fast forward to 2018. Washington State has become the next California.
Just four years ago Washington antis made sure I-594 passed. They presented it as a “common-sense gun law” – cue catchphrases – and claimed it included things like “reasonable exceptions” and that it would “not create a registry.” What is it? Basically, I-594 requires a transfer through an FFL for every imaginable gun exchange.
Thanks to I-594 there is no loan exemption for that moment you want to hand a gun to a friend, no exemption to loan a gun to your adult child or friend for a hunt, and no simple emergency hand-over of a firearm to your sister or daughter who is being stalked by a violent, abusive ex. The law is purposefully written to be vague and open to interpretation.
If you think the law allows gun loans, proceed with caution. Consult a lawyer. The legal definition of “immediately necessary” and “imminent death or great bodily harm” is likely different than your own. Remember, it is not what you know, it’s what you can prove. As for hunting, the final bill is written in a manner that leaves it open to interpretation whether or not someone can possess a firearm that is not theirs, meant for hunting, at any moment other than during the active hunt. Bottom line tends to be it depends on the whim of the person enforcing the law.
Want to casually loan a gun to a visiting friend who is attending a training class at the local academy? Nope. Want to conduct a private firearms sale to someone you’ve known for twenty years? You have to head to an FFL, fill out the paperwork, and pay the fees. There is no such thing as a private sale in Washington State anymore.
I-594 claimed it was necessary to “close the gun-show loophole.” If you’ve attended one of the big Washington Arms Collector gun shows in Washington, you know there’s no loophole.
You can check out I-594 here.
In 2014, in the comments section of a blog titled “Washington State Now Has the Strictest Gun Laws in the Country” on I-594 by Annette Wachter – better known as the 30 Cal Gal – someone by the name of Colin made this remark:
While I agree this is a step backwards for gun rights in our state, I think the title of your article is a bit misleading. As much as it sucks, if I had to choose, I’d much rather be living under something like 594…than something like the SAFE Act.
Oh, Colin (and here I hope this is not the Washington State resident Colin I am acquainted with who is an avid shooter and hunter). Here’s how this crap works. They typically start small before moving on to bigger things. The old adage of giving an inch and them taking a mile couldn’t be more accurate. So, Colin, your comment was unwittingly prescient.
Washington State Initiative I-1639 does many things. It raises the legal age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21, makes training mandatory for those who purchase semi-automatic rifles, adds on various things to the existing background check, enacts a ten-day waiting period for the aforementioned purchases… <takes a deep breath> … legally requires law-abiding gun owners to secure firearms at home in specific ways, and introduces the possibility for those law-abiding gun owners to face misdemeanor or felony charges if a person prohibited from possessing firearms somehow accesses their firearms. Yes, there’s more. The initiative’s definition of what constitutes a “semi-automatic assault rifle” – yes, they repeatedly refer to them that way in the initiative – is rather broad. Read the entirety of I-1639 here.
I-1639 doesn’t only violate Second Amendment rights, it violates Fourth Amendment rights.
Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, which is based in Washington State, is fighting hard against the initiative. He almost succeeded, too. Gottlieb and the NRA challenged the legality of the campaign’s signature-gathering process, and Thurston County Super Court Judge James Dixon ruled in his favor. The judge blocked the initiative from being put on the ballot this fall, saying the formatting of the signature puetitions “did not comport” with Washington State law.
Judge Dixon also said “…this court does not struggle with this issue.” The law does indeed state petitions “must have a readable, full, true, correct copy of the proposed measure.”
There was plenty of admission of potential wrongdoing, too. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who certified the measure for the ballot, admitted she had “concerns” about how the signatures had been gathered, but covered her ass by saying she had “no legal authority” to stop it from happening.
Even The Alliance for Gun Responsibility – the group that led the signature-gathering efforts – admitted publicly that their methods were rather unsavory. Of course, they didn’t actually say “unsavory,” they claimed it was a “technical error” that led to their petition omitting important information.
Right. If you believe that, I have ocean-front property in Arizona for sale <insert George Strait song here>.
At first it looked like a victory for the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA. We were all excited even though we realized the judge’s ruling would be challenged. In the end, it didn’t take long. Judge Dixon handed down the ruling to block I-1639 from the ballot on Friday, August 17th. By the following Friday, August 24th, the Washington State Supreme Court had ruled the initiative would appear on the ballot in November.
Apparently following the letter of the law doesn’t apply in the Washington State Supreme Court. It was Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst who signed the four-page order to reverse Judge Dixon’s rule; Fairhurst must feel the Washington State Constitution and laws such as RCW 29A.72.100 can be ignored in the case of I-1639.
PETITIONS – PAPER – SIZE – CONTENTS
The person proposing the measure shall print blank petitions upon single sheets of paper of good writing quality (including but not limited to newsprint) not less than eleven inches wide and not less than fourteen inches in length. Each petition at the time of circulating, signing, and filing with the secretary of state must consist of not more than one sheet with numbered lines for not more than twenty signatures, with the prescribed warning and title, be in the form required by RCW 29A.72.110, 29A.72.120, or 29A.72.130, and have a readable, full, true, and correct copy of the proposed measure printed on the reverse side of the petition.
The Washington State Constitution states:
Every such petition shall include the full text of the measure so proposed.
Nut graf: Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst ignored RCW 29A.72.100 in order to get I-1639 on the November ballot. I-1639 is an anti-gun initiative that will affect us all, not only Washington State residents. If you live in Washington, get your ass to the poll this fall. If you do not live in Washington, find a way to help fight this. Love your gun rights? Learn to fight for them.
Contact the Second Amendment Foundation at their website here to find out what you can do to help.
Check out NRA-ILA here.