WHY VOTING NO ON INITIATIVE 1639 IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Sponsors of Initiative 1639, billed as the “Reduce Assault Weapon Violence: Safe Schools, Safe Communities Initiative,” promise it will “address many of the causes of recent tragedies.” It’s no surprise that bills with proposals similar to I-1639 have all failed in the Washington State Legislature. Current state law already prohibits persons under 18 years of age from possessing a gun (with exceptions), mandates a dealer-initiated background check before a gun may be sold, loaned, or otherwise transferred (even for private transactions), and makes it a crime to possess a weapon on school grounds, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used by public or private schools. Initiative 1639 does nothing to increase security in schools or address gang violence – it actually makes Washington’s communities less safe by restricting access to firearms for lawful self-defense. Initiative 1639 is 30 pages of poorly drafted gun-control proposals that is guaranteed to do one thing: strip away the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners in Washington State.
Read on for why I-1639 is bad news for Second Amendment supporters and why you should vote NO on this misguided initiative.
This initiative adds a new and bizarre definition of a “semi-automatic assault rifle” (“SAR”).
I-1639 defines ordinary and entirely legal hunting guns, competitive shooting rifles, and target shooting rifles as “assault rifles” that are subject to new government restrictions on purchase, transfer, possession, and more. Section 16 defines a “SAR” 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,”
REASON #2 TO VOTE NO
"Higher Age Requirement"
I-1639 bans adults under 21 years of age from purchasing pistols and semiautomatic rifles. Bans the possession of semiautomatic rifles by anyone under 21 – even guns lawfully possessed prior to the effective date in the Initiative – except as permitted in a few poorly drafted and uncertain exceptions. This discriminatory law essentially bars young adults – who vote, serve in the military, and live independently – from access to common and effective self-defense weapons for no other reason other than age.
REASON #3 TO VOTE NO
"New Gun Taxes"
I-1639 imposes yet another government fee on the people of Washington by authorizing a new statewide fee on semiautomatic rifle sales and transfers. This $25 fee adds to the existing sales taxes and dealer fees, applies regardless of the value of the firearm, and will be charged in non-sale transfers as well as retail sales. Future increases in the fee amount are authorized by the initiative. These financial barriers will have a disproportionate impact on access to firearms for self-defense by low-income, fixed-income, and other vulnerable populations.
I-1639 allows the State Department of Licensing to collect the personal information of gun owners through mandatory reporting of sales and transfers of semi-automatic rifles, without limits on how this information may be used. Besides putting sensitive personal data at risk, this opens the door to a government registry of guns and gun owners.
REASON #5 TO VOTE NO
"Training Certification Requirement"
I-1639 imposes a new training precondition to buy or acquire a semi-automatic rifle, with no exceptions for persons at immediate risk from domestic abusers or stalkers, or already trained government agents, military and law enforcement personnel, and firearm instructors.
REASON #6 TO VOTE NO
I-1639 creates a new class of “community endangerment” crimes for gun owners who fail to keep firearms in any location “in secure gun storage” or otherwise inaccessible for immediate use, and allows prosecutions of gun owners when a prohibited person steals or otherwise gains access to an incorrectly stored gun. This has no exceptions for corrections officers or law enforcement personnel. The primary reason for keeping a gun in the home is protection and self-defense, and I-1639 places citizens at unnecessary risk by prohibiting this immediate access.
REASON #7 TO VOTE NO
New Regulatory Burdens
I-1639 burdens gun dealers with additional mandatory paperwork, sales restrictions, signage, customer notices, collection and accounting of fees, and other compliance requirements. Because of existing state and federal laws, licensed firearm dealers are already among the most regulated of all businesses. Initiative 1639 will add even more rules, along with potential criminal liability, for gun stores and dealers – even though criminals don’t get their guns from legal sources like retail dealers and gun shows. The real costs of this new regulatory regime will fall on gun dealers, small gun shops, and anyone looking to legally purchase a gun.
REASON #8 TO VOTE NO
I-1639 sets the stage for government confiscation of guns. Section 15 of the initiative directs the Department of Licensing and law enforcement agencies to develop a “cost-effective and efficient” verification process (on at least an annual basis) to confirm (1) that persons who possess pistols or semi-automatic rifles are in legal possession of all firearms, and (2) to “take steps to ensure” that persons are not in “illegal possession.” The initiative doesn’t rule out seizure and confiscation of firearms as means of enforcing this directive.
REASON #9 TO VOTE NO
I-1639 is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on weapons in schools or violent crime. This “Safe Schools, Safe Communities Initiative” will have a minimal impact on crime and public safety, apart from inhibiting lawful self-defense. State law already makes it a crime to possess guns and dangerous weapons in schools and places used for school events, and imposes a general ban on persons under 18 possessing guns, with some exceptions. Other state laws prohibit criminals, including those convicted of crimes as juveniles, and other dangerous people from possessing guns.
Paid for by Washingtonians and the National Rifle Association for Freedom, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. Pursuant to WAC 390-18-025(1), the top five contributors are: National Rifle Association of America, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Sporting Systems, Henry Harbert, Joe Wilson.