In the five days after the Washington State Supreme Court overturned a Thurston County Superior Court ruling on Initiative 1639 to restore the measure to the November ballot, Evergreen State gun owners have been a busy bunch, organizing opposition to the billionaire-backed gun control scheme.
On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association officially launched its website opposing the 30-page initiative to explain its many problems, from a gun owner’s perspective. I-1639 is supported by the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the same group that spent more than $10 million in 2014 to pass Initiative 594, a gun control measure mandating so-called “universal background checks,” which did not prevent two high-profile shootings in the state in 2016, in Mukilteo and Burlington.
Save Our Security, the other opposition website, is getting more attention. Chairman Phil Watson is scrambling to organize the grassroots, and to build a campaign war chest.
And the Washington 2A Facebook page, which has been around since 2014 when it was created to oppose Initiative 594, has seen a quadrupling of its followers in the past month, according to administrator Butch Elrod of Kennewick. An open carry advocate who is a chainsaw sculptor, Elrod is a mild-speaking activist who told Liberty Park Press Wednesday that the biggest challenge gun owners have right now is apathy.
“People say that King County is going to overwhelm us,” he observed, but then added, “I’ve seen people get past that because they just get mad and a little angler gets people enthused,” he said.
The other day, Elrod posted the following message on his Facebook page:
In just a couple of days, he raised $3,600 to help the Second Amendment Foundation pay its legal bills for filing one of two lawsuits that challenged the initiative petition’s validity. It resulted in a short-term victory, with Judge James Dixon’s ruling to disqualify the measure.
But then the state high court reversed, allegedly dancing around state legal requirements to do so, according to critics, activism may overtake apathy.
“The whole Washington 2A thing grew exponentially with I-1639,” he said. “I had about 1,500 followers a month ago and now I’ve got 7,000.”
He noted something else that might inspire other grassroots activists.
“When somebody asks me ‘are we gaining ground,’ I tell people, ‘If you get one person to register to vote, or five people to vote against it, we are gaining ground.”
Much of the job is simply educating people about what is in the measure. One thing he suggested is for every gun store in the state to become a “Second Amendment Activist Center.” There, customers can learn about the provisions of this measure. For example, if I-1639 passes, it actually will classify commonly-owned .22-caliber semi-auto rifles as “semiautomatic assault rifles.”
Here’s the language found at the bottom of Page 27:
“Semiautomatic assault rifle” means any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. ‘Semiautomatic assault rifle’ does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.”
That definition clearly encompasses rifles such as the Browning SA-22 (a rifle that’s been around for more than a century), the Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 60 and Winchester Model 74, critics argue.
Another problem activists have with the measure is that it would remove notification about the state’s 35-year-old preemption statute from the pages of a gun safety pamphlet published by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Gun owners ask why would initiative backers want that language stricken, other than to keep state residents in the dark about preemption?
There is little doubt that Washington State this year is “ground zero” in the gun rights battle. It will take every bit of energy for gun rights activists to get out the vote, but that has been made much easier with mail-in ballots. People don’t even leave their homes to vote, just fill out the ballot and stick it in the mailbox.
There is no excuse for not voting. It’s just a matter of getting people to vote, even if they only vote on this one issue. Every vote will count.