The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously overturned an
earlier decision that removed I-1639 from the November ballot.
The original decision was prompted by a case brought by the
Second Amendment Foundation. The National Rifle Association
filed a second lawsuit in Thurston County on the same day. The
lawsuits argued that signature gatherers broke state initiative
rules and that should invalidate the entire effort.
“This isn’t the first time the gun lobby has tried to stop
Washington voters from enacting safer gun laws,” said Alliance
for Gun Responsibility CEO Renee Hopkins. “When the people of
this state have tried to put responsible laws into place, the
National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation
have always stood in the way. It’s disappointing when they do
so, but the Alliance has prevailed each time the gun lobbyists
and their allies irresponsibly attempt to take power away from
Washingtonians. The decision today is just another example of
Washingtonians defeating the gun lobby’s callous disregard for
our lives and our futures.”
I-1639 received more than the 260,000 signatures to be placed on
the November ballot. The initiative aims to establish new
firearm regulations in Washington state, including a safe
storage rule similar to Seattle’s recently passed law. It also
raises the age to purchase semi-automatic assault weapons to 21
(from the current age of 18). And it will create enhanced
background checks for those weapons.
“Today, the Washington State Supreme Court abrogated its duty to
protect the state constitution and state election laws by
allowing Initiative 1639 back on the November ballot,” said Alan
Gottlieb, founder and Executive Vice President, Second Amendment
Foundation, in a news release on Friday. “The court never
addressed the merits of the complaints against I-1639, instead
choosing to ignore the law.”
It’s not the first legal action that I-1639 has faced. Opponents
have argued that the print on the initiative was far too small
for signers to know what the issue is about. They also argue
that the language of the initiative was improperly posted on the
signature gathering forms.
“The petitions were not printed in accordance with state law
because they did not have a full and correct version of the
measure printed on the back,” Gottlieb said.