A Thurston County Superior Court judge has issued a writ of mandamus against a Washington State gun control initiative because it was improperly presented to voters by not following guidelines set down in state election law.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, said Judge James Dixon ruled properly and he is hopeful the state Supreme Court will uphold the decision.
Gottlieb filed one of two lawsuits against Initiative 1639 as a private citizen and Washington State voter. A second similar lawsuit was filed by the National Rifle Association and Spokane resident Robin Ball. The ruling also applies to that lawsuit.
The gun control initiative was sponsored by Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which spent more than $3 million to pay for the signature gathering effort.
But there were problems with the measure from the beginning. The initiative, by law, had to be printed on the back of each petition, and because it was so long, the typeface was reduced to what the judge said from the bench was an unreadable presentation.
SAF tried to bring this to the attention of the Alliance, but was ignored. Additionally, the printed initiative did not comply with the state legal requirement that it be a “full and complete” version, because there were no underlines showing proposed new additions to state gun law, nor were there strike-throughs showing what parts of existing law would be removed. As a result, plaintiffs argued, people who signed the petitions could not possibly know what the initiative would do. The court agreed.
Gottlieb acknowledged that the ruling would be appealed to the state Supreme Court, but he is hopeful it will stand.
“A few billionaires donated millions of dollars to buy the signatures to get this fraudulent initiative on the ballot,” Gottlieb observed. “But they couldn’t buy the Court.”
“The National Rifle Association is glad to see the court today recognized how negligent, if not worse, gun control advocates were in their signature-gathering for this ill-advised ballot initiative,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “We got involved because I-1639 tramples on the rights of Washington state voters, and because the way these anti-gun activists went about pushing their agenda was egregious. We applaud this decision, and will remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Americans.”
Phil Watson, chairman of the Save Our Security/ No on I-1639 campaign, commended the legal efforts by SAF and NRA to block the measure, although an appeal to the State Supreme Court is virtually assured.
“Keeping the ballot initiative process open and honest is important,” Watson said in a news release. “Barring any appeals to the State Supreme Court, this victory will stop I-1639 from appearing on the ballot.
“The well-funded anti-Second Amendment groups may have lost this time on a technicality, but rest assured,” he predicted, “they’ll be back again next year.”
Under the initiative, young adults age 18-20 would be prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights to buy semi-automatic modern sporting rifles. The measure also would classify popular .22-caliber rimfire semi-auto rifles as “assault weapons,” and there would be a $25 fee to do registration paperwork, which opponents consider a tax on the exercise of a constitutional right.
“The initiative process has no place for deceit and deception,” Gottlieb said. “The so-called Alliance for Gun Responsibility acted totally irresponsible in circulating this initiative to the voters and it not only cost them millions of wasted dollars but their credibility as well.”