Gun control measure heading to November ballot

Mukilteo represented on both sides of initiative
By Brandon Gustafson | Aug 29, 2018
Paul Kramer

After a Washington judge had thrown out over 300,000 signatures to get I-1639, a gun safety measure, onto the November ballot, the Washington State Supreme Court reversed the decision.

I-1639, if approved by Washington voters, would increase restrictions on owning and purchasing firearms. This includes raising the age of purchase for semi-automatic rifles to 21, expanding background checks for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles, and requiring purchasers to complete a firearm-safety course within the previous five years. It also sets a 10-day waiting period where firearm dealers can’t deliver a semi-automatic rifle to the purchaser, and sets standards for storing firearms.

The measure needed roughly 260,000 signatures in order to get on the November ballot, and the campaign turned in more than 300,000 in July.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman certified the signatures the week of July 27, but said she had concerns about whether the format of the initiative sheets complied with constitutional requirements.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Adam Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation challenged the legality of the signature sheets, and ultimately Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon agreed, telling Wyman’s office to stop the certification of the initiative.

Mukilteo resident Tim Eyman, the conservative political activist perhaps best known for his $30 car tab campaigns, said in his newsletter that some of his supporters told him I-1639 signature gatherers were “using our $30 tabs initiative as ‘bait’ to get folks to sign I-1639 petitions.”

Eyman said he provided Gottlieb with his attorney, Joel Ard, for a second round of litigation, which he attended, and was happy to have helped get the signatures thrown out.

An attorney for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility appealed Dixon’s decision, bringing it before the state Supreme Court.

Eyman said he believed the state Supreme Court wouldn’t overturn Dixon’s decision.

“I feel confident the state Supreme Court will not reverse Judge Dixon's reasonable ruling,” Eyman said in his newsletter. “No way in heck was his decision ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ And my guess is they won't even have oral argument. The High Court will simply affirm Dixon's decision.”

Ultimately, the Supreme Court reversed Dixon’s decision last Friday, Aug. 24, meaning voters will have the opportunity to vote on the initiative in November.

The court found that Wyman “has no mandatory duty to not certify an initiative petition based on the readability, correctness, or formatting of the proposed measure printed on the back of the petitions.”

Mukilteo resident Paul Kramer is the citizen sponsor of I-1639, and calls the measure “common sense.”

“As the citizen sponsor, I fully support I-1639 as a comprehensive package of reasonable, moderate, common sense reform measures to improve our overly lax gun laws.”

Kramer was very happy with the state Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday.

“The Washington State Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning the lower court’s erroneous ruling,” Kramer said. “By signing the petition, over 375,000 Washington voters said, ‘Yes, I want this measure on the ballot.’”

Kramer’s son Will was shot at the 2016 Mukilteo shooting that killed three of his classmates, but survived.

The shooter, who was 19 years old at the time, used an AR-15 style rifle, which he had legally purchased.

Since the shooting, Kramer has been working to improve gun safety in Washington, particularly in relation to semi-automatic weapons.

“An AR-15 style assault rifle should be at least as hard to get as a handgun. I-1639 addresses that and requires safety training in advance of purchase, along with holding owners responsible for safe storage,” Kramer said. “There is nothing unreasonable in the initiative.”

Kramer believes the initiative will reduce gun violence and create safer communities and schools if approved.

“I’m confident that Washington state voters will see the wisdom in approving I-1639.”

Washington state’s 2018 general election is Nov. 6.






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