It didn’t take long for the war of words and emotions to erupt as paid signature gatherers began in earnest to collect voter signatures for Initiative 1639, the latest gun control scheme offered by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Seattle-based lobbying group.
Under I-1639, according to critics, all semi-automatic rifles, regardless of type or caliber, become “assault rifles” under the definition in the measure. This would include such common small game .22-caliber rimfire models as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60. Here’s the wording in the 30-page initiative:
“‘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.”
On top of that, say opponents, the initiative includes what amounts to a “hidden tax” because it would require firearms dealers to charge each buyer of a “semiautomatic assault rifle” (the firearms community says there is no such thing) a fee of up to $25 to process the transfer of the firearm.
But there is more, and it showed up in the pages of the Seattle Times in an editorial and in a story about this year’s graduating class at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, where a student four years ago opened fire with a handgun, killing four students and wounding a fifth before he committed suicide.
No matter that the handgun had been purchased illegally by his father, nor that it was not a so-called “assault rifle.” It was a school shooting and bringing up memories of that now, at the launch of an initiative that claims to be a “school safety” effort due to the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will play non the emotions of people now being asked to sign the initiative.
Remarkably, in an editorial, the Times notes, “it’s especially troubling to see a growing trend of well-financed political organizations working to undermine this process and prevent or delay votes on important issues.”
What about the “well-financed” political organization that is pushing this gun control measure? The Alliance has, according to KOMO News – the local ABC affiliate – some $3 million in its war chest. It is paying a premium for signatures to meet the initiative deadline of July 6, requiring the collection of at least 12,000 signatures a day.
Second Amendment activists have launched an effort of their own, to discourage people from signing, or at least read the entire 30-page document before they do sign. It’s called “decline2sign1639.”
Even the newspaper editorial notes, “The onus is on voters to read and understand what they sign.”
A second effort is also underway. That’s the “Save Our Security” movement, and it has some traction on social media.
Gun owners are tired of being scapegoated by the gun prohibition lobby, which is weaponizing the bank accounts of billionaire elitists to essentially buy elections, they argue. In 2014, the same anti-gun-rights groups backed Initiative 594, the so-called “universal background check” measure that was supposed to make schools and communities safer. That didn’t work, say rights activists, and there is no evidence this new scheme will work, either.