Opinion by Dave Workman
SEATTLE, WA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Washington state gun owners are waging a desperate battle against a billionaire-backed gun control effort that, if it passes in November, could spread like a cancer across the country, especially in states with the citizen initiative process.
Initiative 1639 is a 30-page, multi-faceted measure that seeks to raise the minimum age for purchasing and owning a semiautomatic modern sporting rifle to 21, and require so-called “secure storage” with criminal penalties for non-compliance.
But there is much more to this initiative, which is being pushed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Seattle-based organization largely funded by a small group of wealthy elitists, including Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Steve Ballmer. It is also supported by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.
If passed, the initiative 1639 would define every common semi-auto rifle on the map as a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that must be registered and regulated.
The initiative’s authors evidently cut and pasted the government’s generic definition of a semiautomatic rifle and simply inserted the term “assault” in order to capture such popular sport hunting rifles as the Winchester Model 100 and Browning BAR, and also every self-loading .22-caliber rimfire that’s ever been marketed. That includes the Ruger 10/22, Remington’s classic Nylon 66, the Marlin Model 60 and Browning SA-22, for example.
Here’s the actual language from the initiative 1639, and it leaves no wiggle room for exemptions:
“‘Semiautomatic assault rifle’ means 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 have also raised alarms about the $25 fee that can be charged by firearms dealers for the additional paperwork necessary to conduct a so-called “enhanced background check.” [whatever that is?] Many gun owners believe this to be an unconstitutional “poll tax” that must be paid in order to exercise a fundamental right.
Further, there is another provision that requires gun buyers to allow law enforcement to look at their private medical records in order to determine whether they may have some problem that would disqualify them from having a firearm. Here’s what the initiative would require:
“A signed application to purchase a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle shall constitute a waiver of confidentiality and written request that the health care authority, mental health institutions, and other health care facilities release, to an inquiring court or law enforcement agency, information relevant to the applicant's eligibility to purchase a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle to an inquiring court or law enforcement agency.”
And I-1639 invents a new crime called “community endangerment.” This is a Class C felony-level offense that could be leveled against a gun owner in the event a “prohibited person” gains access to a firearm and then uses the gun to commit a crime. It victimizes gun owners who are already victims of theft, and could be used to place gun owners in jail for up to one year. Critics look at this provision as an attempt to discourage people from having firearms.
There are enough concerns about the initiative that three major law enforcement organizations in the state have already gone on record in opposition. They are the Washington State Sheriff’s Association, Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. However, their announcements have gone virtually unnoticed by the establishment media.
Grassroots opposition to I-1639 is working on two fronts. The National Rifle Association has teamed up with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Washington Arms Collectors. NRA has contributed some $150,000 to the campaign to defeat the measure. www.initiative1639.org That dollar amount pales in comparison to the $4.3 million already raised and spent by anti-gunners to put this initiative on the November ballot.
Another group, SaveOurSecurity.org, has raised slightly more than $24,000, and has produced a video advertisement featuring a local activist who was a crime victim. Here’s the video message:
There are now more than 598,000 active concealed pistol licenses in the state, and grassroots activists are scrambling to energize all of them to beat the measure on election night.
At the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago, the national implications of this initiative campaign were discussed with gun owners from as far away as Florida. The consensus is that Washington is being used as a test tube by the gun prohibition lobby to see what might work in their multi-million dollar effort to erode Second Amendment rights.
The analogy they discussed is simple: Right now, the “barbarians” are at the far edge of the realm, represented by the Pacific Northwest. It would be much better for gun owners across the country to support the fight to contain and stop them north of the Columbia River, rather than wait until they bring their gun control campaign to your state.
The Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, has issued a detailed analysis of I-1639, which pulls no punches about what this measure seeks to accomplish. Here is a link: (https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/library/doclib/Guppy-Citizens-Guide-to-Initiative-1639-to-enact-new-restrictions-on-firearms-ownership-in-Washington-state.pdf )
About Dave Workman