It is refreshing to see a state judge who believes the rules matter when it comes to a voter initiative. Thurston County (Washington) Superior Court Judge James Dixon is that kind of judge.
This past Friday he threw out the 300,000 signatures collected on petitions on Initiative 1639 which would entail another round of gun control in Washington State. Judge Dixon found that the print on the forms was too small to be read and that the petitions did not clearly state what would be the changes in the law. He ordered the Secretary of State’s office to stop certification of the ballot initiative.
Among the things the initiative would do is raise the age to purchase a modern semi-auto sporting weapon including .22 rifles to age 21, require a firearm safety training course, and mandate safe storage. The petition process was started by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and funded primarily by high tech billionaires such as Paul Allen.
As you might expect, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is appealing this to the Washington State Supreme Court. Moreover, as their CEOs comments make clear they are not happy campers.
“The right of Washingtonians to make changes to our laws via initiative has been part of our state’s history for more than 100 years and is fundamental to the Washington we know today,” (Renee) Hopkins said. “Today’s decision tossed out the signatures of more than 378,000 voters, and undermined the rights of the citizens of this state in favor of the interests of the gun lobby. It’s not right, and we will continue to fight.”
Actually, it was the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s playing fast and loose with the established rules regarding the form and style of initiative petitions that undermined the petition and not anything the judge did. I guess they thought with all the money that they had the court would just roll over for them.
As you might expect, Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation who sued as a private citizen was very pleased with the result.
“A few billionaires donated millions of dollars to buy the signatures to get this fraudulent initiative on the ballot,” Gottlieb observed. “But they couldn’t buy the Court.”
“The initiative process has no place for deceit and deception,” Gottlieb said. “The so-called Alliance for Gun Responsibility acted totally irresponsible in circulating this initiative to the voters and it not only cost them millions of wasted dollars but their credibility as well.”
The NRA had also sued along with Alan Gottlieb and the ruling is in response to both lawsuits. Chris Cox of the NRA-ILA had this to say:
“The National Rifle Association is glad to see the court today recognized how negligent, if not worse, gun control advocates were in their signature-gathering for this ill-advised ballot initiative,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “We got involved because I-1639 tramples on the rights of Washington state voters, and because the way these anti-gun activists went about pushing their agenda was egregious. We applaud this decision, and will remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Americans.”
It is good for gun rights to see the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation working together in Washington State. They are also co-plaintiffs in two more lawsuits challenging efforts by Seattle and Edmonds to circumvent the state’s strong preemption laws on firearms regulations.