Initiative 1639 will be on the November ballot. Photo courtesy of zaphad1/Flickr

Initiative 1639 will be on the November ballot. Photo courtesy of zaphad1/Flickr

Gun control initative set for November ballots

Proponents believe initiative would increase safety; opponents believe it infringes on rights.

Gun control will be on the ballot this November as advocates hope to implement much stricter legislation statewide.

Initiative 1639 would be the most sweeping gun control legislation passed recently in the state and would mandate a host of measures which advocates say would help curb gun violence, and which opponents say would price poor people out of having guns and infringe on Second Amendment rights. I-1639 would raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic assault rifle, a term used in the legislation, to 21.

In addition, it would require gun sellers to confirm that buyers have completed a training course within the last five years which would include everything from basic safety to secure gun storage and suicide prevention, among other requirements. The gun seller also would need to receive a written confirmation from law enforcement that the buyer is eligible to own a firearm before they can sell the gun. A 10-day waiting period would be implemented.

The buyer would need to submit their personal information along with the gun’s manufacturer number to law enforcement, which critics have said would essentially create a list of gun owners in the state. Guns would also come with a “surgeon general’s” type warning, saying owning guns increases the risk of being injured by them.

Finally, the initiative would criminalize gun owners if someone used their gun to commit a crime. The gun owner could face charges ranging from misdemeanors to a class C felony depending on how the gun was used.

According to Ballotpedia, supporters of I-1639 had raised more than $4 million while opponents, largely backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) had raised only $118,030 as of Aug. 13.

Supporters of I-1639 include state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Vets Place Northwest and various faith groups, among others. The group Save Our Security No on I-1639 is leading the opposition and includes the NRA, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility communications manager Tallman Trask said I-1639 is the most comprehensive gun measure legislation ever proposed in the state. It comes on the heels of a failed push for stricter gun control by Legislature Democrats earlier this year.

“We believe stronger gun laws lead to more saved laws,” Trask said.

The legislation is meant to slow down the buying process and to keep guns out of the hands of people who can’t legally own them, which Trask said could reduce gun violence. It would treat assault rifles, which can now be purchased at 18, the same as pistols in many ways.

“We know that access is key to pretty much every type of gun violence, just a few seconds can be the difference between life and death in suicides, in homicides, in child access type cases,” Trask said.

One of the most dramatic changes in the law would be the creation of what amounts to an annual ownership license system, where the state would develop a way to ensure that gun owners remained eligible to own guns each year. While the initiative doesn’t dictate how this will be done, it could be one of the most sweeping changes to state gun law ever passed.

The organization Save Our Security No on I-1639 campaign did not respond to request for comment by this publication’s deadline. In the opposition statements to the initiative, the NRA said “Initiative 1639, filed by Michael Bloomberg’s front group, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, is an egregious attack on Second Amendment freedoms and comes just months after failing to enact their gun ban agenda in Olympia.”

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