Court overturns I-1639 decision, allows gun measure on ballot

Aug 24, 2018, 6:13 PM | Updated: 9:40 pm


Opponents to the I-1639 gun initiative launched a lawsuit contending the measure is not on legal footing. (Photo: MyNorthwest)

(Photo: MyNorthwest)

The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously overturned an earlier decision that removed I-1639 from the November ballot.

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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.

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Court overturns I-1639 decision, allows gun measure on ballot