In the wake of last Friday’s ruling by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon that anti-gun Initiative 1639 petitions did not meet state legal requirements, the gun prohibition lobby and its supporters are “going ballistic,” declaring that the judge “sided with the gun lobby.”
But opponents of the 30-page, multi-faceted measure counter that the judge didn’t side with the gun lobby at all, he sided with state law and the state constitution. The fact that the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association contested the measure should come as no surprise to anybody. Those organizations have tens of thousands of Evergreen State members and supporters whose rights would be eroded by the measure, especially young adults in the 18-20-year age group. The ruling was a victory for those citizens whose rights are no less important than the political disarmament agenda of the gun control lobby.
The position of I-1639 supporters can be summed up in a reader response to the Seattle Times from someone calling himself/herself “Justice Served”: “In this case, the only people complaining are the NRA and we know that they are about as unamerican (sic) as can be. No one wants the NRA with their Russian influence interfering in our politics. The big bad NRA is simply throwing roadblocks up to stop any sensible gun regulations supported by a large majority…It is the waste of time and public funds required because the NRA keeps trying to insist on their minority rule. It is a result of the idiots at NRA and their Russian provocateurs…The state appeal will prevail.”
And I-1639 Campaign Manager Stephen Paolini told supporters via email, “Yesterday, a judge in Washington State sided with the gun lobby and threw out hundreds of thousands of petition signatures submitted by Washington voters…We are outraged by this decision. By tossing out the signatures of more than 378,000 voters, the court is undermining the rights of the citizens of this state in favor of the interests of the gun lobby.”
Wrong, again, say Second Amendment activists who are tired of Seattle-area billionaires spending boatloads of cash to buy elections. In this case, I-1639 backers were careless by printing the language of their measure in such tiny type that even Judge Dixon said on the bench that he couldn’t read it, and he claimed 20/20 vision.
More importantly, the tiny text did not include underlines identifying proposed new language nor were there strike-throughs showing the language to be deleted if the initiative passes.
There is no small irony in the fact that gun control proponents push all manner of restrictive gun laws and expect every gun owner to fully comply or face legal jeopardy, but when those same gun prohibitionists screw up, they claim no harm, no foul. One cannot have it both ways.
That much was clear to the editorial board of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. Back on July 31, that newspaper’s editorial page declared, “we don’t believe the law was followed in the collecting of signatures for I-1639. The initiative should be disqualified.”
It is not as though the initiative sponsors at the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility were not aware of the problem. The Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms warned the Alliance about the problem on June 19 and June 22 in separate letters. There was no response.
Finally, there were two separate lawsuits, one filed by Bellevue resident Alan Gottlieb and supported by the SAF, and the other filed by the NRA and Spokane resident Robin Ball. Together, all the parties had several serious issues with I-163, not the least of which were the so-called “safe storage” requirements and the fact that language in the measure could have deemed popular small game hunting rifles including the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60 to be “assault rifles,” which would strike any gun owner as ludicrous.
The case was immediately appealed to the State Supreme Court. If that court upholds Dixon’s ruling, the anti-rights backers of I-1639 will have a difficult time arguing that those justices were toadies to the “gun lobby.”