Two gun rights organizations based in Washington State have issued a demand to backers of Initiative 1639, the new gun control measure aimed at blocking sales of so-called “assault rifles” to 18-20-year-olds in that state, asserting that the typeface used to print the text of the initiative on the rear of each petition is too small to read.
The letter, written by Olympia attorney Sean Newman, was sent Tuesday to the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the billionaire-backed gun control lobbying group. In the letter, Newman asserts that “the I-1639 campaign is utilizing unreadable petitions in violation of RCW 29A.72.100.”
That statute says that “Each petition at the time of circulating, signing, and filing with the secretary of state must consist of not more than one sheet with numbered lines for not more than twenty signatures, with the prescribed warning and title, be in the form required by RCW 29A.72.110, 29A.72.120, or 29A.72.130, and have a readable, full, true, and correct copy of the proposed measure printed on the reverse side of the petition.” The statute does not specify how large the typeface must be, but the text on the reverse side of the petitions is rather small.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said in a prepared statement, “In the short time that I-1639 petitions have been in circulation, SAF and CCRKBA have been contacted by several people who could not read the initiative language. I’ve always been warned to read the small print before signing anything. I-1639, as it appears on the back of each petition, is all small print. That should tell voters something about its content.”
Phil Watson, chairman of the group opposing I-1639 – SaveOurSecurity.org – told Liberty Park Press that he is glad the two groups have raised the issue. His group is pushing a campaign on social media called “Decline to Sign 1639.” It urges voters to read the initiative, which spans 30 pages, before signing.
Paid signature gatherers have been working feverishly for more than ten days since a Thurston County court judge required some changes to the ballot title. They have until July 6 to gather more than 259,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. That may require a lot more signatures to overcome problems with duplicates or invalid signatures, which is not out of the ordinary for initiative campaigns.
Copies of Newman’s letter went to the Washington Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices.
The initiative seeks to prevent 18-20-year-olds from purchasing semi-automatic sporting rifles, which the measure considers “assault rifles,” and also requires training, a ten-day waiting period and so-called “enhanced background check.” There are also safe storage requirements and a $25 fee for processing the paperwork.