The new 22-page gun control initiative unveiled by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility includes what the National Rifle Association has labeled as a “tax” on the purchase of so-called “assault weapons,” a registry on these firearms, and a politically-charged “warning” mandate on all gun purchases.
It also raises the minimum age for purchasing a “semiautomatic assault rifle” to 21, requires proof of gun safety training during the previous five years, and annual state verification that people who have purchased a handgun or semi-auto rifle remain eligible to possess the guns.
There’s also a ten-day waiting period on the delivery of a so-called “assault weapon.”
Last Saturday at the state capitol in Olympia, an estimated 2,500 Second Amendment activists made it clear they will fight this measure. That fight could take a lot of money, lots of volunteer energy and a gun owner voting effort reminiscent of the defeat of Initiative 676 in 1997.
Offensive to many of those activists is this warning:
“CAUTION: The presence of a firearm in the home has been associated with an increased risk of death to self and others, including an increased risk of suicide, death during domestic violence incidents, and unintentional deaths to children and others.”
This warning, the NRA asserts, is “an attempt to further stigmatize firearms.”
The NRA’s assertion that this initiative creates a registry appears to be on solid ground. Proof is found in Section 14 of the initiative, which states, “The department of licensing ((may)) shall keep copies or records of applications for concealed pistol licenses provided for in RCW 9.41.070, copies or records of applications for alien firearm licenses, copies or records of applications to purchase pistols or semiautomatic assault rifles provided for in RCW 9.41.090, and copies or records of pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle transfers provided for in RCW 9.41.110. The copies and records shall not be disclosed except as provided in RCW 42.56.240(4).”
Also, the annual verification of gun ownership eligibility can only be accomplished one way, and that is if there is a registry.
The further allegation that this measure contains a tax depends upon how one interprets the following tenet of Section 3:
“To help offset the administrative costs of implementing this section as it relates to new requirements for semiautomatic assault rifles, the department of licensing may require the dealer to charge each semiautomatic assault rifle purchaser a fee not to exceed twenty-five dollars, except that the fee may be adjusted at the beginning of each biennium to levels not to exceed the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers, CPI-W, or a successor index, for the previous biennium as calculated by the United States department of labor.”
The entire first section of this initiative reads like a political statement, to which Washington gun owners may object.
“Gun violence,” the measure claims, “is far too common in Washington and the United States. In particular, shootings involving the use of semiautomatic assault rifles have resulted in hundreds of lives lost, devastating injuries, and lasting psychological impacts on survivors, their families and communities. Semiautomatic assault rifles are specifically designed to kill quickly and efficiently and have been used in some of the country’s deadliest mass shootings, including in Newtown, Connecticut, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Parkland and Orlando, Florida, among others. Semiautomatic assault rifles have also been used in deadly shootings in Washington, including in Mukilteo and Tacoma.”
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for any given year, rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of homicides.
The initiative language also includes this: “Enough is enough. The people find and declare that it is crucial and urgent to pass laws to increase public safety and reduce gun violence.” Does pure political rhetoric belong in state statute?
Evergreen State voters most likely will see this measure on the November ballot, the Everett Herald predicted. The Alliance, with its deep pocket support from local billionaires and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will also likely spend a fortune in an effort to pass it.