One of the nation’s largest grassroots gun rights organizations is comparing a new proof-of-training requirement to purchase a firearm in Washington State to the now-defunct “literacy test” used in decades past to prevent immigrants, poor people and southern Blacks from registering to vote.
“Democrats in the Legislature are not only at war with Washington gun owners,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, “they have also declared war on the state and federal constitutions, and the built-in protections for law-abiding firearms owners. As we’ve said many times, this isn’t about guns, it’s about rights.”
The legislation also mandates a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm.
In a prepared statement, CCRKBA, which coincidentally maintains its national headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., criticized Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee for signing the law. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Under language in Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1143, “A person applying for the purchase or transfer of a firearm must provide proof of completion of a recognized firearms safety training program within the last five years.”
Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution states, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.
“This requirement, along with the 10-day waiting period, seem like impairments to us,” Gottlieb said. “When the governor earlier this year compared this requirement to getting training before being issued a license to drive, he ignored one very important point, and he knows it. Driving is a privilege, but keeping and bearing arms is a right protected by both the state and federal constitutions, and there is nothing in either of those provisions about training, or waiting.”
The bill signed by Inslee requires the firearms safety course to include the following:
(a) Basic firearms safety rules;
(b) Firearms and children, including secure gun storage and talking to children about gun safety;
(c) Firearms and suicide prevention;
(d) Secure gun storage to prevent unauthorized access and use;
(e) Safe handling of firearms;
(f) State and federal firearms laws, including prohibited firearms transfers and locations where firearms are prohibited;
(g) State laws pertaining to the use of deadly force for self-defense; and
(h) Techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a 16 violent confrontation, including conflict resolution.
Under the new law, “The training must be sponsored by a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, a college or university, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training. The proof of training shall be in the form of a certification that states under the penalty of perjury that the training included the minimum requirements.”
“Inslee and the Democrats can couch this any way they want,” Gottlieb said, “but it adds up to the same thing. These requirements are designed to discourage Evergreen State citizens from exercising their constitutionally-protected and enumerated rights.”