WSPTA Opposes I-1639
Given the Washington State Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the previous lower court ruling on Initiative I-1639, it will again be headed to the voters on the November ballot.
This decision clears the way for a statewide vote on a sweeping gun control legislation.
The initiative creates a new definition for an "assault rifle":
"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.
"Semiautomatic assault rifle" does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.
It is important to note the proposed definition does not specifically exclude shotguns and will most likely re-classify semi-automatic shotguns as assault rifles.
I-1639 utilizes the existing legal definition of a semiautomatic rifle and renames it a "semiautomatic assault rifle". Subsequently, every semiautomatic rifle is an "assault rifle".
Ruger 10/22, Savage 64 and several other classic American hunting rifles would now become “Assault Rifles”.
In addition to re-defining assault rifles, it also changes requirements for ownership and acquisition of such rifles. These include:
• Required training to be renewed every five years for purchasing any semiautomatic rifle.
• Requires all semiautomatic rifle purchases be approved by local law enforcement authorities.
• Applies the same process for purchases all semiautomatic rifles as it currently exists for handguns absent the exception for persons with concealed pistol license and includes a mandatory 10 day waiting period.
• Amends paperwork to state stating owning guns is a danger to the purchaser.
• Establishes a fee, up to $25, to fund all of the above mandates.
• Bans sales of semiautomatic rifles to out-of-state residents.
• Establishes a minimum age of 21 for purchasing semiautomatic rifles.
• Bans possession of semiautomatic firearms for people under 21 outside of their property boundaries.
The restrictions I-1639 puts on semiautomatic firearms greatly exceeds current regulations on pistols. Some examples of this are noted below:
• Pistol purchases do not have mandatory waiting periods. They can be picked up immediately once a police background check is complete and if the purchaser has a concealed pistol license, the dealer can conduct the background check and transfer the firearm immediately. There is no such exception or process for semiautomatic rifle purchases within the bill.
• Currently, handgun transfers may happen between family members. Parents may gift their children pistols for hunting and target shooting. There is no such exception for semiautomatic rifles within the bill. A person currently eligible to enter a Project Appleseed competition with their parent's 10/22 rifle would lose this ability once they become 18 years old.
• The initiative bans anyone under 21 from using a semiautomatic rifle for hunting and target shooting. Many competitions require semiautomatic rifles (and semi-automatic shotguns).
• There is no current training required for handguns.
• There are current no fees for extra background checks for handgun purchases.
The proposed initiative provides no exemption for law enforcement officers. It is viewed by many as a
pathway to increased legislative restriction similar to those previously proposed by current Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Local, County and State law enforcement officers from across Washington are united in opposition to I-
1639. Concerns include the inability to enforce “feel good” provisions within the proposal. Unenforceable gun control laws are not effective. Individual accountability, stiff penalties for firearms violations and consistent, swift court sentences are far better deterrents than adding additional restrictions to law abiding firearms owners.
Jeff Merrill, President