UPDATED 7-27 @ 9:27 p.m. — Nationally-recognized gun rights leader Alan Gottlieb, who heads two Washington State-based gun rights groups, on Friday filed one of two legal challenges to Initiative 1639, the latest gun control measure backed by a Seattle-based lobbying group.
The other lawsuit was filed almost simultaneously by the National Rifle Association, in Thurston County Superior Court.
Gottlieb is founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, both based in Bellevue.
“While I head a national organization,” Gottlieb said in prepared statement, “I also happen to be a registered voter in Washington state, and this initiative is legally invalid. 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.”
Likewise, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox noted in a statement, “Secretary of State Wyman has a legal and constitutional duty to reject all I-1639 signatures obtained using fraudulent copies of this initiative.”
“It’s telling that the gun control lobby and their billionaire backers will break the rules and resort to dirty tricks in order to get their latest gun control scheme on the ballot,” Cox added.
SAF and NRA are currently partners in a separate legal action, challenging a so-called “safe storage” ordinance recently passed by the City of Seattle, which they allege violates Washington’s 35-year-old preemption law. That statute places sole authority for firearms regulation in the hands of the state legislature.
“It is personally offensive that the backers of (I-1639) think they can buy their way to victory by ignoring the law,” Gottlieb stated. “This challenge maintains that because the initiative petitions were incorrectly printed, there isn’t a single valid signature on them. It is essentially the same as signing a contract to buy a new Ford and they deliver a used Chevy.
“At the end of the day,” he continued, “it’s worthless paper. That’s not my fault, it’s the fault of the people behind I-1639 who apparently thought it didn’t matter to follow the letter of the law.”
Backers of the initiative apparently spent about $3 million to gather signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. However, the version of the initiative printed on the back of each ballot did not feature underlines for proposed new statutory language nor did they feature strike-through lines showing what existing law would be removed.
According to the NRA’s complaint, the initiative, if passed, would create a gun registry for any transfers of semi-automatic rifles and increases the age limit for buying such a rifle from 18 to 21. As a result, young adults could no longer buy or own such firearms. Also, opponents say the measure would classify such popular .22-caliber rimfire sporting rifles as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60 as “assault rifles.”
Additionally, the NRA said, the measure would mandate a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of semi-auto rifles, impose criminal liability “on otherwise law-abiding gun owners who fail to store their firearms to state standards,” and mandate training prior to purchase. The initiative also authorizes a $25 fee “to be assessed to semiautomatic rifle purchasers.”
Gottlieb’s lawsuit is financially supported by SAF, but he filed as an individual citizen and Washington State voter.
“Just because the wealthy elitists behind this poorly-prepared initiative spent a couple of million dollars in an attempt to get on the November ballot is no reason for the court to allow them to dance around state law,” Gottlieb said.