WA initiative battle heats as gun control measure challenged

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There is a challenge to a Washington state gun control initiative’s ballot title.

When the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility gathers on Monday for its annual fund raising luncheon at the Westin Hotel, there will likely be a discussion on the challenges to the ballot title that were filed Wednesday against the group’s latest gun control scheme, Initiative 1639.

The well-heeled organization has until July to collect more than 259,000 signatures to get I-1639 on the November ballot.

The initiative would, among other things, prohibit sales of semi-auto rifles to anyone under age 21, create a new fee on firearms purchases that opponents characterize as a tax, and criminalizes certain firearms storage practices, according to a ballot title challenge filed by a private citizen named Glen Morgan.

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That legal challenge is supported by the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and its sister organization, the Second Amendment Foundation. As famed frontier marshal Wyatt Earp supposedly said to Ike Clanton at the Tombstone gun battle, “The fight’s commenced. Get to fighting or get away.”

Seattle P-I.com’s Joel Connelly recently wondered if the National Rifle Association might get involved in the fight. Why not? The organization is blamed for mass killings by people who were not members. NRA has tens of thousands of members in the Evergreen State, and a strong membership in neighboring Oregon, where other gun prohibitionists are running an initiative to actually ban so-called “assault weapons.”

The Seattle-based initiative effort, according to the Seattle P-I.com, will likely have “money and resources…from Everytown for Gun Safety, the group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”

Additional funding support will likely come from local billionaires, the article suggested.

What’s in this initiative that alarms Morgan and other Washington citizens? Under the proposed law, someone whose firearm is accessed by an unauthorized person could face a felony-level criminal charge.

Also, the initiative makes this assertion: “studies show that eighteen to twenty year olds commit a disproportionate number of firearm homicides in the United States and research indicates that the brain does not fully mature until a later age. Raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles to twenty-one is a commonsense step the people wish to take to increase public safety.”

That might be offensive to young adults who are mature enough to assume other responsibilities, as Morgan rebuts this assertion by noting that I-1639 “conceals from or does not inform voters accurately about the categorical denial of firearm ownership to a broad population of citizens discriminated and excluded from firearm ownership by age, despite the fact they can vote, hold elected office, join the military, and fight to defend our nation in war with far deadlier weapons than those banned by this initiative.”

Morgan spoke with CFL Thursday, noting that his is not the only ballot title challenge that was filed Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court. There were two others, resulting in what Morgan described as a legal “circus.” Three different judges were assigned to the individual challenge cases, and the court must determine who actually hears the cases.

The Alliance is the same group that sponsored Initiative 594 four years ago. That so-called “universal background check” measure has failed in its promise to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Since its passage, there have been two high-profile mass shootings, one in suburban Mukilteo and the other at a Burlington shopping mall, and what amounts to a serial killing spree in Federal Way.

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