Six Reasons Why Washington’s I-1639 Gun Control Initiative is Dumb
In a few weeks, voters in Washington will head to the polls, sending new representatives to Washington, DC as well as the state capitol in Olympia. This will be little different than what happens in other states, with one major exception – Washington will have a gun control initiative on its ballot.
Dubbed I-1639, the full measure starts of by blaming “gun violence” on “semiautomatic assault rifles.” On the ballot, it will appear with the following brief description: “Initiative Measure No. 1639 concerns firearms. This measure would require increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles; criminalize noncompliant storage upon unauthorized use; allow fees; and enact other provisions.”
I have a feeling that most voters in Washington State won’t bother doing more research than read that paragraph. This feeling is based on the passage of I-594 (a universal background check bill) in Washington several years back, which gives me an indication of which way voters in the state are leaning.
For those voters who do want more research on the issue, here are six reasons why I-1639 is just plain dumb. These aren’t the only reasons – there are more – but they are some of the more glaring issues with the initiative.
1. “Gun Violence” Has Little to Do with Semi-Auto Rifles
This is one we’ve had to point out a lot recently, and especially when the topic of semi-auto rifles comes up. Put simply, the vast majority of homicides involving firearms are committed with handguns.
Blaming “gun violence” on rifles not only doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s also a waste of time. Rather than go after the real source of the problem, this bill makes voters feel like they did something – without accomplishing much in real terms.
2. 2. The Training Requirements Are a Joke
Doesn’t it sound great to have training requirements for firearms? It sounds common sense, so voters should love it, right?! But this bill’s training requirements are a joke. The text of the bill requires that the training cover a few general topics without any length or feedback requirements. I could put together a training class which would satisfy the proposed law and could be taught faster than an episode of the average Netflix show. Assume you’ve never touched a gun before – do you think you’d call yourself “trained” in the use of firearms if you sat through a 30-45 minute gun class, didn’t have to take a test, and didn’t have to, you know, shoot the gun?
Most gun rights advocates oppose mandatory firearms training but are in favor of encouraging firearms training on one’s own initiative. Most anti-gun folks want strict training requirements. This bill satisfies no one and will only serve to annoy gun owners. If you want to buy a semi-auto rifle, you’ll have to jump through meaningless bureaucratic hoops. You don’t have to actually learn anything.
3. Training Requirements Only Apply to Semi-Auto Rifles
As if the “training” requirements weren’t bad enough, they only apply to people buying semi-auto rifles. You don’t need the “training” if you want to get a concealed carry permit in Washington State, allowing you to walk around in public with a firearm, but you do need “training” if you want to put a Ruger 10/22 in your closet (secured with a lock, which is another part of the initiative that might be covered separately).
4. All Semi-Auto Rifles Are Lumped Together
The initiative defines “semiautomatic assault rifles” as any semi-auto rifle. This includes rifles like the AR15 and AK74 that everyone anti-gun loves to hate, but also common rimfire rifles used for plinking and target shooting like the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60. Combined with the $25 fee, which increases every year with inflation, this will place a significant burden on some gun buyers – for no reason.
5. Banning 20-Year-Olds from Buying Ruger 10/22s Won’t Stop School Shootings
One of the more controversial aspects of the initiative prevents those under 21 from buying “semiautomatic assault rifles.” This means that someone who is 18, 19, or 20 years old can’t buy an AR-15 (or a Ruger 10/22), but they can buy a shotgun, whether it’s pump-action or semi-auto. If you think for one minute that some loser is going to be deterred from killing people because he could only buy a magazine-fed semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun instead of a magazine-fed semi-auto .22 rifle, you don’t have a firm grip on reality.
Put it this way – do you think anyone would be discouraged from drinking if they couldn’t buy one specific class of alcohol, but could freely buy any other type? Before the more anti-gun among you go there, banning all types of alcohol didn’t work either.
6. “The State ‘May’ Enact a Background Check System”
One of the most useless parts of this bill is Section 3, subsection (3)(b), which says the state may enact a stricter background check system through the legislature or initiative process. This is like saying the state may enact a different maximum blood alcohol percentage for drivers. It’s not going to accomplish anything, good or bad, until the state DOES enact such a change.
I’m honestly at a loss to understand why this is here, unless some previous law prevented the state from enacting its own background check system – but that would probably show up in the initiative as strikethrough text repealing such a law. I don’t see that, so again, this section appears to be completely useless.
In Short, I-1639 Does Little Other Than Burden Gun Owners
Frankly, there’s no reason anyone should support this bill, whether you’re pro-gun or anti-gun. It does nothing but needlessly burden lawful gun buyers without having a hope of accomplishing any of its stated goals. Those on the anti-gun side should be angry with whoever shoveled together this hot, steaming, fly-infested mess of a ballot initiative. Vote it down and try again with something different that might have a hope of saving lives.
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