Federal Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss SAF/NRA Lawsuit v. WA Initiative

Vote NO on Initiative 1639
Federal Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss SAF/NRA Lawsuit v. WA Initiative

U.S.A. – A federal judge in Tacoma has denied a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year that challenges provisions of a restrictive gun control initiative adopted last fall by Washington State voters, providing an important win for gun rights activists in the Pacific Northwest.

The lawsuit challenges Initiative 1639, a billionaire-backed measure that strips young adults of their Second Amendment rights to purchase semiautomatic rifles of any kind unless they are over age 21. The initiative also places training requirements on buyers of any semi-auto rifle, requires so-called “safe storage,” registration, so-called “enhanced background checks” and other mandates.

The ruling, which may be read here, was handed down by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton.

Perhaps the most onerous of the measure’s provisions is that it includes a definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that literally covers every self-loading rifle ever manufactured. According to Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who said earlier this year there really is no such thing as a “semi-auto assault rifle,” but the initiative simply invented a definition that, if upheld, can then be used in the future to further regulate or even ban such firearms.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, two Evergreen State firearms retailers and four young adults. They contend that the “multi-faceted initiative violates the commerce clause by banning sales of rifles to non-residents, and that it unconstitutionally impairs the rights guaranteed by the First, Second and Fourteenth Amendments, and Article I Section 24 of the Washington State constitution by preventing the sale of certain rifles to otherwise qualified adults under age 21,” according to a SAF news release.

The initiative campaign was backed by the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a gun prohibition organization primarily funded by wealthy elitists in the Seattle area, plus Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. It was officially sponsored by “Safe Schools Safe Communities.”

SAF’s Alan Gottlieb

Lined up against the measure were the NRA, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and several law enforcement organizations.

It’s been several months since the lawsuit was filed, and SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb was relieved that he could finally update supporters.

“The long delay is over,” Gottlieb said. “The important aspects of the motion to dismiss have been denied. Just as important, the judge’s ruling treats the Second Amendment as any other fundamental individual right that is constitutionally protected.”

Over the past several months, individual members of the Washington Arms Collectors, an organization directly affected by the initiative because of the 10-day waiting period mandate, have been donating to support the legal action.

I-1639 spanned 30 pages and was initially thrown off the ballot by a Thurston County Superior Court judge for not complying with state requirements regarding how the initiative was printed on the back of initiative petitions. Judge James Dixon said he could not read the tiny typeface used to print the entire initiative language on the petition, nor did it show underlines designating new language and cross-outs showing what language would be repealed by passage of the measure. But the State Supreme Court reversed him a week later and placed the measure back on the November ballot.

With this ruling, Gottlieb said the state, and the initiative proponents “are on the defensive.” If history is any indicator, anti-gunners will be sending fundraising emails accusing the NRA and its allies of trying to thwart the will of the people.

About Dave WorkmanDave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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Know your constitution.

Mr. Badnarik will leave you educated.


Hopefully I can say this without offending anyone. And I’ll predicate it by saying my father’s acestors helped found southern California (the Pomeroy’s). This state (Washington) had been going down the you know what pipe since the first California refugees began fleeing that state in the 80’s and brought their communist rhetoric along with them to Washington state. Those of us who’ve never taken the oath to defend the constitution or whom lack the context of what it means to be an American are the ruination of what used to be the country (and state) I grew up in. The… Read more »

Clark Kent

In truth, Washington state was liberal long before the California infestation (although that did not help matters).


I just read 1639 and am stunned. How could 60% have voted for this monstrosity? Permission from the state is needed to buy a semi-auto rifle or handgun. Signing an application for a license to buy will be considered the same as signing a release for medical records. Only it won’t be signing the release for anyone specific, any state official or any law enforcement official will be given full access to the applicant’s medical records. A “semi-automatic assault rifle” is defined as any semi-auto rifle. Period. A Ruger 10/22 or Marlin 60 is a ‘semi-auto assault rifle.’ The application… Read more »


It’s Washington State.

Rand Foster

It was only about 25% of the eligible voters. Those that didn’t vote could be our worst enemy.

Robert Stanley

All gun rules, regulations, policies and laws are unconstitutional and MUST be removed! Regarding the governments ability to impose “Reasonable Restraint” which has now become the mantra of our liberal influenced government. Supporters of the bill of rights claim they have a constitutional or Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Opponents counter even if it were the case, the government was granted the general power to place restraints on the right. Both of these assertions are based on a misconception concerning the intent of the document known as the Bill of Rights. When the Bill of Rights was… Read more »

Clark Kent

Keep it pithy, amigo! Do you get paid by the word?

Eddy Brenner

Sir there’s a lot of good Scratch that outstanding verbiage this man put into this Lotta research went into it and I appreciate it very good reading I like others are much more educated because this research as you should be as well.


That is and was a good read I am smarter now and need to verify the writings otherwise I am easily led astray. I appreciate the length and scope


The backers of the initiative will be meeting to consider either shopping for a friendly judge or offering a bribe to reverse that ruling.


The will of the people?, I wonder which over populated city controlled that vote?

Webfoot Logger

The Democratic People’s Republic of Seattle, of course.

And the last I heard, most sheriffs in the state had stated that they would not enforce this abomination.


I wonder how many of the thirty thousand profssional “homeless” who squat in that city you mention were bribed to vote on that initiative. I also wonder when those Supreme COurt judges will face felony perjury charges for refusing to abide by their oaths of office……. that initiative, as on the petition actually circulated, is in clear violation with Washington’s Constitution regarding such citizens’ iniatives, on at least two counts. One was detailed above. The other is the requirement tha NO citizens’ initiative can deal with more than one issue. As noted above, this one deals with about six that… Read more »

Clark Kent

The will of the people at one time in one country was to place Jews in concentration camps in order to exterminate them.

Wallace Curry

The people of Germany had no free will once the Nazi’s stripped them of their collective right to own firearms.

James Russell Bailey

@Wallace Curry,

That was 1934 to 1935.

Hitler had been Chancellor 4 a year to two years before he was able to Garner absolute power by 36.

Prior to that, Germans went along with Hitler’s programs, because he actually delivered on his promises.

The bottom line is that your answer is far too simplistic to describe the responsibility of individual Germans concerning Hitler’s actions.

Post 1936 you might have an argument, however pre 36 there were no concentration camps, and thus no legitimate reason to remove Hitler.

Wild Bill

@JRB, I note that Mr Wallace mentions no date. You provide the dates. And actually, registration of all firearms was required and began during the Weimar Republic, in 1932. Siezures began with Jewish gun owners from the registration list. Please see “Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and Enemies of the State” by S.P. Halbrook