When Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon last week disqualified Initiative 1639 because the petition format did not comply with state law, it was an expensive lesson for the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying groups that backed the measure.
Read that, a $4.083 million lesson, which is not going down well with anti-gunners as demonstrated Saturday when far left-wing “counter protesters” showed up at a gun rights rally outside Seattle City Hall. According to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, the Safe Schools, Safe Communities, 2018 committee raised and spent more than $4 million to get some 378,000 signatures on those faulty petitions.
Judge Dixon’s ruling was immediately appealed to the State Supreme Court, but during a chat Monday morning with Alan Gottlieb, lead plaintiff in the case supported by the Second Amendment Foundation (where he serves as executive vice president), he suggested the high court will almost certainly uphold Dixon.
There is no small irony in the fact that SAF and its sister organization the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms warned the Alliance for Gun Responsibility about the problem back in June. An attorney for the I-1639 sponsors acknowledged to KIRO-TV News that they were aware of the warning, but determined that the petitions did comply with state election law. The judge ruled otherwise.
Saturday’s rally and counter-protest, the latter which reportedly resulted in three arrests, were just one small part of a drama that has been unfolding through the summer. While SAF’s Gottlieb filed his lawsuit, the National Rifle Association filed a separate but similar legal action, with Spokane resident and gun shop operator Robin Ball as the main plaintiff. Both Ball and Gottlieb have “standing” because they are residents and voters, a fact that the judge made clear as he recited his ruling.
According to the Associated Press and Kitsap Sun, Renee Hopkins, CEO at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, called the ruling “shocking.” She asserted that the decision “undermined the rights of the citizens of this state in favor of the interests of the gun lobby.” That seems to be the theme that anti-gunners are pushing, that Judge Dixon “sided with the gun lobby.”
But jubilant I-1639 opponents countered that the judge was “siding with state law.” Indeed, his entire bench ruling focused on the law, not the contents of the initiative.
Gottlieb told CFL Monday that state high court might have a hard time finding any fault with Dixon’s decision, while the gun control lobby has vowed to “continue to fight.”
With the backing of Seattle-area billionaires, that probably won’t be hard to do, but even to a billionaire, spending more than $4 million on an initiative that even the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin said on July 31 should be disqualified, is hardly a trifle. And the people who contributed to the campaign might think twice next time around before sending a check.
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