SAF And NRA File Joint Suit Against Washington State Over I-1639

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The Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association have joined together to challenge parts of the recently passed Washington State Initiative 1639 in a federal lawsuit. The initiative contained a laundry list of gun control measures including a definition of an assault weapon (sic) that would include Ruger 10/22s, raised the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, specified waiting periods, enacted a safe storage provision, includes a $25 tax on each semi-automatic rifle sold, requires law enforcement to verify annually that owners of handguns and semi-auto rifles are legally allowed to own them, and it includes a training requirement.

The initiative was funded in great part by billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, Nick Hanauer, and the late Paul Allen. The goal, while not state overtly, is to kill out the gun culture in Washington State by making it so onerous and creating such a slippery slope that casual gun owners will just give up. You can hear some thoughts on this from a Washington State resident in Episode 308 of The Squirrel Report podcast.

The lawsuit, Mitchell et al v. State of Washington et al, was filed on Wednesday in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. It is a complaint for both a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief based upon a claim of violations of the Commerce Clause, and the 2nd and 14th Amendment.

The plaintiffs are firearms dealers Daniel Mitchell and Robin Ball, 19 year old competitive shooter Luke Rettmer who is a member of the US Long Range Rifle Under 21 team, 19 year old Army reservist and college student Nathaniel Casey, and recreational shooters Armen Tooloee and Matthew Wald who are 20 and 19 years old respectively. The Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association are the organizational plaintiffs in the case.

The lawsuit focuses in on four aspects of I-1639 which goes into effect, in part, on January 1, 2019 with the remainder going into effect on July 1, 2019. First, it challenges Section 12 of the Initiative’s ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to out-of-state residents on the grounds it “impermissibly burdens interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, Art. I § 8 cl. 3.”

Secondly, the lawsuit challenges Section 13 of the Initiative which raises the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21. It seeks a declaration that “by preventing the sale to otherwise qualified adults under age 21 of certain rifles, impermissibly burdens their exercise of rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.” They are making this claim on behalf of both the Young Adult Plaintiffs and the Organizational Plaintiffs. It is asserted that no state interest justifies this infringement and that the ban is broader than needed to serve any “possible alleged governmental interest.”

Thirdly, the lawsuit contends that the Section 13 of the Initiative “impermissably burdens” the rights guaranteed to the Young Adult Plaintiffs under Article I Section 24 of the Washington Constitution.

Finally, the lawsuit says that the intention of Washington State Attorney General Robert Ferguson to enforce the provisions of I-1639 and will be acting under “color of law”. Thus, Ferguson will be depriving “plaintiffs of civil rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The plaintiffs seek to have the challenged portions of I-1639 declared unconstitutional and to enjoin enforcement of the entire I-1639 unless the challenged parts are ruled severable, and if so, then enforcement of the challenged parts.

The complaint in its entirety can be found here.

Both the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association have issued releases regarding this lawsuit.

Alan Gottlieb of SAF had this to say:

“We are also considering additional legal challenges,” SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb confirmed. “We are disappointed that too many Evergreen State voters were fooled into supporting this 30-page gun control scheme, despite overwhelming law enforcement opposition. This initiative is an affront to the constitutional rights enshrined in the Second Amendment and the Washington state constitution, especially for young adults.

“We’re determined to fight this egregious measure because constitutionally-protected rights should never be subject to a popularity vote,” he stated. “The wealthy elitists behind I-1639 want to turn a right into a regulated privilege. This measure was only designed to have a chilling effect on the exercise of a constitutional right by honest citizens while having no impact at all on criminals, and we cannot let it go unchallenged.”

Chris Cox of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action had similar comments:

“The NRA is committed to restoring the Second Amendment rights of every law-abiding Washingtonian,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA¹s Institute for Legislative Action. “I-1639 violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts people at risk. This lawsuit is the first step in the fight to ensure that Washingtonians are free to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense.”…

“The NRA will fight to overturn this unconstitutional initiative. We will not sit idly by while elitist anti-gun activists attempt to deny everyday Americans their fundamental right to self-defense,” concluded Cox.

I, for one, am quite pleased to see the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifles Association working together on this lawsuit and not competing with one another for bragging rights. This is the way it should be.

A Judge Who Believes The Rules Matter

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.

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Washington State’s I-594 On Vagueness Grounds

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed suit in Federal court against portions of Washington State’s Initiative 594. The suit charges that the new law infringes on the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution as well as on portions of the Washington State Constitution.

They also allege that the new law is so vague that, “a person of ordinary intelligence cannot understand its scope, which renders it subject to arbitrary enforcement.” They go on to add, “The agencies of the State of Washington have so far either disclaimed the responsibility to interpret I-594 or provided interpretations that are so far removed from the language as to be useless.”

The business plaintiffs include the Northwest School of Safety, Puget Sound Security, Inc., Pacific Northwest Association of Investors, and the Firearms Academy of Seattle. The individual plaintiffs include SAF’s Alan Gottlieb, CalGun’s Gene Hoffman, the Gottlieb Revocable Family Living Trust, Andrew Gottlieb, Daryl Lee, CCRKBA’s legislative director Joe Waldron, and Xee Del Real. SAF is also a party to the suit.

The suit names Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the Attorney General’s Office, and the head of the Washington State Patrol as the defendants. The suit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against the enforcement of I-594’s amendments to RCW 9.41 as it relates to:

non-commercial transfers of firearms to private citizens who are otherwise qualified
to possess firearms, or otherwise enforcing any policies, rules, or procedures prohibiting or
otherwise restricting the non-commercial transfer of firearms to private citizens who are
otherwise qualified to possess firearms.

 The suit entitled Northwest School of Security el al v Ferguson et al is being brought in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. A copy of the complaint can be found here.

The release from SAF is below:

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Tacoma, seeking a permanent injunction against enforcement of portions of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure that took effect Dec. 4, alleging that “portions of I-594…are so vague that a person of ordinary intelligence cannot understand their scope,” and that other parts violate the Second Amendment outright.

Joining SAF in this action are the Northwest School of Safety, Puget Sound Security, Inc., the Pacific Northwest Association of Investors, the Firearms Academy of Seattle, six individual citizens including SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb and the Gottlieb Family Trust. They are represented by Seattle attorneys Steven Fogg and David Edwards, and Bellevue attorney Miko Tempski.

Named as defendants are Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, in their official capacities.

“We took this action due to the confusing and arbitrary language and nature of I-594,” Gottlieb explained. “Three of our plaintiffs, including my son, are residents of other states and cannot legally borrow handguns for personal protection while traveling in Washington. Under I-594, all transfers must be done through federally-licensed firearms dealers, but under federal law, dealers cannot legally transfer handguns to residents of other states. I-594 also essentially prohibits our non-resident plaintiffs from storing their own firearms here.

“This measure effectively infringes upon, if not outright prohibits, the exercise of their constitutionally-protected right to bear arms under the Second Amendment,” he added.

Gottlieb pointed to a recent directive from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to its volunteer hunter education instructors regarding firearms transfers in class that amount to “straw-man transfers.” The lawsuit also notes that the State Patrol said it could not prove that a change of possession not covered by an I-594 exemption was a “transfer,” making enforcement of the new law “difficult if not impossible.”

“We’re not trying to stop background checks,” Gottlieb said. “We’re taking action against a poorly-written and unconstitutionally vague measure that criminalizes activities that are perfectly legal anywhere else in the country, thus striking at the very heart of a constitutionally-protected, fundamental civil right.”

In Seattle, The Rich Vote For Gun Control But Buy Their Own Cops

I get a lot of emails from the various financial planning publications. Sometimes they are touting a certain mutual fund company and sometimes they are little news stories about HNW individuals. Translating from finance-speak, that means high net worth individuals aka the wealthy.

A story in Financial Advisor about the Seattle wealthy caught my eye yesterday and spurred me to do some research. The gist of the story is that Seattle suffers the top property crime rate in the country and that certain wealthy neighborhoods have taken to hiring a force of off-duty police officers and private security guards to watch over their neighborhood.

After Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote about how the police largely disregarded his family’s repeated calls about car thieves in his neighborhood, a resident of the city’s tony Laurelhurst section dropped him a note.

“I bet if you had been in Laurelhurst, somebody would have come,” the reader wrote. “Your mistake was being in a regular part of town.”

Turns out that Laurelhurst, the neighborhood where Bill Gates was born and lived until about 1994, isn’t completely satisfied with its police protection, either. In fact, it has hired its own security force.

Exasperated with a spate of car break-ins, the neighborhood adopted its strategy from Windermere, an even more exclusive neighborhood directly north, where homeowners pay an annual $575 fee that mostly goes toward having off-duty police and private security guards patrol year-round.

Seattle has the top property crime rate in the country, the Seattle Times reported recently. It’s more than double the Boston area’s rate and almost one-third higher than the rate for the Denver area.

Laurelhurst’s security force consists of off-duty policemen who keep the neighborhood under surveillance six nights per week in five-hour shifts, and also conduct foot patrols when residents are on vacation. One of the city’s off-duty bicycle cops also rides around the neighborhood during the day—something that helps with the now ubiquitous package theft that appears to be a result of faux dog walkers following UPS trucks to their delivery destinations.

Although the off-duty cops wear their official uniforms and carry police radios and firearms, they drive their personal—that is, unmarked—cars. They monitor incoming 911 calls and work with on-duty police officers if there’s an incident.

“We don’t expect them to catch people,” says Brian McMullen, who sits on the neighborhood council and helps oversee the crime program. “We view it as a deterrent.”

Knowing that Seattle and King County provided the base of supported for Washington State’s I-594 gun control initiative, I wondered how these areas voted. Did they jump on the gun control bandwagon along with the majority of Seattle residents? Moreover, how much money did residents of the area donate to the gun control front group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility?

Let’s take the last question first. Residents in these neighborhoods live in the 98105 zip code. Donations to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility totaled $179,305. Donors included Bill Gates, Sr. who gave $500. That $500 contribution by one individual was more than all the donations to the pro-gun group Protect Our Gun Rights combined. Those donations totaled a mere $335. Put in relative terms, pro-gun contributions totaled two-tenths of one percent of the amount donated to the anti-gun forces.

Overall, the vote for I-594 in King County was 74.99% in favor and 25.01% opposed. Statewide, the numbers were 59.27% in favor with 40.73 opposed to more gun control.

So how did the two neighborhoods, Laurelhurst and Windermere, vote? It took some doing but I was able to identify the relevant voting precincts from the election district maps and pull the data from eCanvass file.

Windermere’s eight precincts had a total of 2,101 people vote in I-594 contest. Of these, 1,856 voted yes on I-594. That 88.3% is significantly higher percentage than King County as a whole.

Laurelhurst’s 11 precincts went even higher in their support of I-594. 2,181 or 89.1% of the 2,448 votes cast on the initiative were in favor of it.

I guess if you are sitting in your (multi) million dollar home in Laurelhurst or Windermere with security provided by off-duty police, you don’t really worry how the riff-raff provides for their security. You are protected and they can pretty much go to hell for all you care. So what if it is harder for them to get the tools to protect themselves and their families. You got yours and that is all that matters.

I-594 And The Aftermath – Why Washington State And Who Might Be Next (Pt. 1)

We underestimate our enemies at our peril. The Washington State universal background check initiative, I-594, should have taught us that. We may think that Michael Bloomberg is a rich, power-mad little Napolean or, as Michael Bane calls him, a nastly little Fascist. However, he did not get to be rich by marrying the right woman or picking the right parents. No, he saw a need and devised a way to fulfill it. Along the way, this insight and his skills made him a very rich man. The bottom line is he is not stupid and he can think strategically.

Likewise, it is easy to dismiss Shannon Watts as an up-marrying, social climbing PR flack who attached herself to gun control as a  way to rejuvenate her ailing career. However, she didn’t get to be a VP at Wellpoint without some degree of talent and a mastery of public relations tactics. We have seen that with the way she created the appearance of a win for gun control – even it if wasn’t – from the announcements by companies like Starbucks and Chipotles that they didn’t want guns in their stores. Perception is reality and the perception is that guns were banned there even if it was merely an unenforceable polite request to leave the guns at home.

Thus, when I read this post from Hyperion 1144 on Reddit, a light went off. The goal of Bloomberg wasn’t universal background checks. It was to kill the gun culture in America by strangling its ability to bring new adults into it. We always say that taking someone shooting is a great way to inoculate them from the claims of the gun prohibitionists. If that is made too hard by the restrictions on transfers in I-594, then we can’t achieve this inoculation.

I-594 is a not a tactical move by gun confiscationists, it is a strategic move.

This law was created by smart, wealthy, well-funded persons who are playing the long game, and if gun owners don’t start running a long-game strategy to match, we are done for within two generations.
Washington has passed Initiative 594, a law marketed as requiring background checks on all sales, but which in reality has criminalized the act of touching any gun you do not own. This means that if you don’t own a gun in Washington State, it is now illegal for you to touch a gun.

I haven’t yet seen an article, comment, or post anywhere that takes into account the long-term cultural implications of such a regulation. I-594 is literally a legislative vaccine against the spread of gun culture.

How is someone curious about guns in Washington state supposed to learn about them about now? They won’t be able to go shooting with friends, they won’t be able to go to friends house to be shown how to field strip a 9mm. Gun classes have likely been outlawed. Gun rentals are likely gone now, too.

The only way to learn, now, is to buy a gun and learn by yourself, completely on your own. No one can help you, since they can’t touch your gun and you can’t touch any of theirs.
This law is intended to isolate us, to prevent us from spreading ideas, knowledge, information, culture. This law, played out of over years and decades, means that gun owners are now likely limited to two pools of people in the future:

1) The children of gun owning families.
2) The rare, entirely self-motivated individual who is willing to trek into an unknown world completely alone.

Played over years and decades, this is how you slowly disarm a population without getting substantial complaints from that population.

The only way we maintain our 2nd Amendment rights is to fight for them. The only people who will fight for them are people who understand firearms, and the reasons for owning them, well enough to be willing to fight. The only way most people come to an understanding of this is if someone else taught them or helped them to understand.

Now, virtually all non-familial acts of teaching and culture-sharing are illegal. In the long-term cultural sense, I-594 is the single most dangerous piece of gun control legislation ever conceived.

It makes the NFA and the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban look childishly simplistic by comparison. This time, they didn’t ban certain mechanical or cosmetic features. They didn’t ban full-auto or select fire or short-barrel rifles.

This time, they banned a culture, our culture.

If this stands or spreads, we are done for.

I think the author, Hyperion 1144, makes a lot of sense and we need to get that message across to all gun owners – Fudds, Threepers, Prags, or what other subgroup of gun owners you can think of.

As to the last sentence in the Reddit post, it has spread to the state of Nevada. This was not unexpected as a universal background check bill passed the Nevada legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV). Everytown President John Feinblatt said as much after I-594 passed calling it just the beginning. The group fought off an attempt by the Nevada Firearms Coalition to keep it off the 2016 ballot. The only change made to the wording of the ballot initiative was make sure voters knew the penalties for violations would be a gross misdemeanor for first offenses and a felony conviction for the second offense. This is identical to Washington State’s I-594.

Sebastian has some ideas on how to fight off Bloomberg on the ballot initiatives. I haven’t digested all of it yet but it sure has set off a storm of comments.

David Codrea notes that the effort in Nevada was something he warned about last year. Back then, David did some investigative digging into the Nevada effort and found the fingerprints of Bloomberg all over it. Unfortunately, not enough people listened at the time.

Part 2 of this post will be an effort to identify future targets of Bloomberg’s opportunism.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from US National Rifle Team member and gun blogger Anette Wachter who is also known as 30CalGal. She was one of the people who had testified before a Washington State legislative committee about Initiatives 591 and 594. Initiative 594 is the gun prohibitionists’ “background check” initiative which would criminalize transfers without a state background check while Initiative 591 is the Protect Our Gun Rights Act.

Describing how one opponent of gun rights had said she was afraid of guns, Anette said we must work on those in the middle.

But as I listened to Wa St. Senator Jeannie Darneille from Tacoma state she is deathly afraid of guns period, I knew that there was to be no convincing people like her to back off of gun control measures. They hate guns period. Our work to be done is to make those on the fence see the light. Those on the fence are the ones that only hunt, or only have a pistol, or only go to the range once in a while or who’s dad used to shoot, that all aspects of the 2nd Amendment need to be protected. Just because you don’t shoot an AR and it does not affect you does not mean you should vote against the right to own them. Do you want me to vote against one side of your First Amendment because I don’t like your choice of social media but as long as my social media choice is not affected that is it ok? It is all or nothing.

She is dead on with that observation and that is where we need to concentrate our efforts. It is what military strategists call the concentration of force.

Gun Prohibitionists To Try Ballot Initiatives

Gun prohibitionists in Washington State think that perhaps they will have more success with a gun control ballot initiative than they have had with the legislature. Their rationale is that the big evil NRA intimidates legislators and “the people” won’t be similarly swayed.

Washington Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Democrat who had sponsored unsuccessful legislation on background checks at the state level, said a winning ballot initiative would make a statement with broad implications.

“It’s more powerful if the voters do it – as opposed to our doing it,” Pedersen said. “And it would make it easier for the Legislature to do even more.”

On Monday, proponents of universal background checks in Washington will announce their plan to launch a statewide initiative campaign that would require the collection of some 300,000 signatures, according to a person involved in the initiative planning who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has scheduled a fundraiser in Seattle at the end of next month and hopes to have a campaign budget in the millions of dollars.

 I don’t doubt that they could have a multi-million dollar budget if Mayor Bloomberg and/or Bill Gates opens their wallets. If I remember correctly, Gates was a big supporter of a 1997 Washington State initiative that went down to screaming defeat.

This all presupposes that the gun prohibtionists have a large grassroots backing and that they can mobilize them. You know, like the NRA and other gun rights organizations.

The Brady Campaign’s “director of mobilization” seems a little leery of the effort.

Brian Malte, director of mobilization at the national nonprofit lobbying group Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said passage through Congress is the ideal in order to have a national solution and so that states with strong gun laws aren’t undermined by nearby states with weaker standards. He noted that initiative campaigns are costly endeavors that can drain important, limited resources.

Still, Malte said, the ballot measures are an option to consider.

“At some point, certainly decisions need to be made about what the right time is to say we take it to the people,” Malte said.

I’m guessing the right time is right after a highly publicized mass shooting and when they think they have achieved a critical mass of low information voters.

Still Rep. Pedersen seems quite sure of himself.

Pedersen said he was working with the initiative organizers on language for the proposal, and he said the Legislature would first have another chance to adopt the measure early next year. If it fails among lawmakers again, the proposal would then automatically go to the ballot, where Pedersen said he welcomed a campaign competing against groups like the NRA.

“I’m not afraid of it at all,” Pedersen said. “The public is really with us. It’s the right policy. I think it can be useful for further progress.”

I don’t doubt that the Yale-educated Pedersen is a smart guy. I just wonder how he in touch he is with the average Washington State voter outside of King County.