The Thurston County Superior Court ruled on Friday that a gun-control initiative did not follow guidelines set down in state law when gathering signatures and cannot be included on the ballot.
I-1639, backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, sought to establish a 10-day waiting period on certain semiautomatic rifles, ban their sale to adults under 21-years-old, require training for purchase, and prescribe rules for storage. The gun-rights groups that challenged the initiative said it ran afoul of state law because it did not make clear what changes to the law it intended to make.
The National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation had filed separate challenges to the ballot measure. The suits were eventually combined and heard together by the court, which found in their favor.
The NRA applauded the decision and said the would-be ballot initiative would infringe on the rights of gun owners in Washington state.
"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," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. "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."
Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder, accused those backing the initiative of trying to deceive the voters of Washington state.
"A few billionaires donated millions of dollars to buy the signatures to get this fraudulent initiative on the ballot," Gottlieb said. "But they couldn't buy the court. The initiative process has no place for deceit and deception. 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 Alliance for Gun Responsibility blasted the court's decision.
"This decision is frankly shocking," Renee Hopkins, CEO of the group, said in a statement. "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. 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."
Alliance for Gun Responsibility has appealed the ruling and the case will now be heard at the state supreme court within the next 5 days in order to resolve the issue before ballots are printed for the upcoming election.
UPDATE 5:32 P.M., Friday 17 August: This post has been updated to include comment from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.