After a federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by gun rights organizations challenging an anti-gun Washington state initiative restricting the gun rights of young adults, the leader of the Second Amendment Foundation stated, “We definitely plan to appeal to the 9th Circuit,” according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, told Liberty Park Press and TheGunMag.com the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton was not surprising.
Initiative 1639, passed almost two years ago, regulates so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles.” It prevents young adults aged 18-20 from purchasing and owning modern sporting rifles, and one thing Judge Leighton said in his 19-page ruling could have widespread repercussions.
“In sum,” the judge wrote, “18- to 20-year-olds are developmentally immature, commit a disproportionate share of violent crimes and have been successful subjects of public health and safety regulation in the past.”
But people that age can enlist in the military, they can vote, get married, enter into contracts, start businesses, and even buy long guns that are not semi-autos.
“The judge doesn’t think that 18 to 20-year-olds have rights,” Gottlieb said in an interview with the Daily World in Aberdeen. “A fundamental constitutional right should definitely apply to them as well.”
Anti-gun Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson essentially gloated over the ruling, “An overwhelming majority of Washington voters approved Initiative 1639,” Ferguson said. “The NRA continues to challenge voter-approved, common sense gun reforms – and they continue to lose. I will not allow the NRA to undermine the will of the voters. If they choose to appeal, we will beat them again.”
Keely Hopkins with the National Rifle Association, which has partnered with SAF in the federal lawsuit, issued a statement blasting the ruling.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising to learn that a sitting judge chose to blatantly disregard the constitutional infringements ballot initiative 1639 imposes upon law-abiding gun owners,” Hopkins said. “Now more than ever it is imperative that those who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights are not denied this fundamental freedom no matter where they call home.”
Judge Leighton, a George W. Bush appointee, had earlier signaled his sentiments during a telephonic hearing in mid-August, when he told Joel Ard, attorney for the plaintiffs, that he would “have a very stiff headwind in your argument.”
“I don’t share the hyperbole about the evil of guns or the sanctity of the right to self-defense,” he said at the time, according to the Seattle Times. “This is just a plain vanilla analysis of the law as I see it.”
But the law in question is anything but “plain vanilla,” according to critics. Passed by just under 60 percent of Washington voters in November 2018, I-1639 invented the definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle,” which actually is a non-existent firearm anywhere but on paper, as explained several times last year by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The definition broadly applies to every self-loading rifle ever manufactured anywhere around the world, including .22-caliber rimfire models for small game hunting, recreational shooting, training and competition.
In addition to the prohibition for young adults, it requires an “enhanced background check” which translates to a 10-day waiting period. It further requires proof of training within the past five years. There is a “safe storage” mandate, a waiver of confidentiality on medical records and, for reasons that have never been explained, language explaining Washington State’s preemption law was stricken from a state Department of Fish & Wildlife firearms pamphlet.
In the 3 ½ years since President Donald Trump took office, he has quietly been filling federal court vacancies with constitutional judges, including spots on the Ninth Circuit bench.