Federal Judge Upholds Washington’s Draconian I-1639 Gun Laws, SAF Plans to Appeal

Washington’s bill prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from owning a semi-automatic rifle.

A federal judge has upheld a series of restrictive gun control laws passed by Washington State in 2018.

The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation had argued in their lawsuit against the state that Initiative 1639 violated Second Amendment rights. But Judge Ronald Leighton struck down the suit on Monday in the U.S. District County for the Western District of Washington.

“An overwhelming majority of Washington voters approved Initiative 1639,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “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.”

It looks like Ferguson will get his fight. When GunsAmerica asked Second Amendment Foundation Founder Alan M. Gottlieb whether his organization plans to appeal the ruling, he responded via email: “YES.”

“There is no way we are going to let young adults lose their Second Amendment rights,” he said. “If they can fight and die to protect our freedom, we are going to do all we can to protect their freedom.”

SEE ALSO: NRA and Second Amendment Foundation File Suit in Washington over I-1639

Only 60 percent of Washington voters supported I-1639. It’s likely many did not understand the full scope of the new law – which was enormous.

Initiative 1639 prohibited the sale of semi-automatic long guns to anyone under the age of 21, required additional gun safety training for anyone purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, instituted “enhanced” background checks on semi-auto rifle purchases, created a registry of gun owners, established a 10-day waiting period for certain purchases, held gun owners liable for failing to secure firearms, and allowed the state to charge a $25 fee on the sale of “assault rifles.”

Much of Judge Leighton’s ruling considered the constitutionality of restricting firearm ownership to adults under the age of 21. Leighton argued that the age requirement does not place a severe enough burden on Second Amendment rights and can be justified by historical precedent.

SEE ALSO: Washington State Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Gun Control, Receive Threats

“Reasonable age restrictions on the sale, possession, or use of firearms have an established history in this country,” Leighton wrote. “There is no reason why a restriction on sale and possession of SARs—powerful weapons that can be wielded against the public—constitutes a break from this pattern. The Age Provision does not burden Second Amendment rights.”

Leighton makes much of the percentage of Washington residents who voted in favor of the law, but when it first passed, Gottlieb noted the inherent problems with passing measures that affect constitutional rights via the ballot initiative process.

“We’re determined to fight this egregious measure because constitutionally-protected rights should never be subject to a popularity vote,” Gottlieb said. “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.”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

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  • Ron April 19, 2021, 3:23 pm

    AG Bob Furguson says the NRA continues to fight voter approved common sense gun laws. So he is going to fight them. That’s pretty hypocritical. Furguson fights against voter approved tax breaks like vehicle license tab fees. In other words…if it fits his agenda or his opinion he will fight to keep or enforce it BUT if the voters pass something he doesn’t like he will fight against it and us.

  • Pat J September 10, 2020, 9:43 am

    One of the first rifles I bought with my own money was a BAR .308, a dandy brush gun that knocked deer down without involving the next county, a reliable semi-auto with a B&L 2.5 x 5 scope.
    Washington, Oregon, and California have lost, or, are losing their freedoms through the gathering votes of people who stay indoors too much, pasty and preachy they’ve become.
    Although when I was 16, I would have broken this city law to own that Belgian Browning rifle.
    Still mine, still shoots, still kills.
    You have to think they still make a few boys like we used to be, who want to hunt and eat wild things.

  • skipNclair September 4, 2020, 9:34 am

    It does not matter what one judge or 1,000 judges think, nor does it matter what congress passes or the president thinks or wants, What matters is what God almighty wants, and the people want and what the Constitution says. Anything regardless of how the judge or judges think or feel, or the legislation thinks or feels or the president thinks or feels is not law if it goes against the Constitution and it is the peoples right to not only ignore that law, but it is their duty to break it. Marbury VS Madison and God given rights trample all over anything that is unconstitutional.

  • ARVIE TURNER September 4, 2020, 7:38 am

    Regarding the age limiting for ownership. I purchased my first Remington 22 bold action at the age of 14. it was never used for anything but rabbits, tin cans and pests. Now 70 years later my 14 year old son is the proud owner. Age is not the issue but the rearing of a youth to be responsible is the problem with them owning firearms.

    • Kevin Jones September 4, 2020, 9:31 am

      You are correct. My daughter is 16 years old. She has over 10 guns now. She competes in trap and pistol and rifle. Parents aren’t raising their kids like they used to they throw them in the streets and they don’t give a crap about them. It’s not the guns. It’s the stupid people that create more stupid people.

  • Dave Kerns September 1, 2020, 10:03 pm

    Obviously another corrupt judge who doesn’t care to understand the Second Amendment, or why it is there in the first place. He fits in well with the snake and sideshow.

    • Dr Motown September 4, 2020, 8:02 am

      He was another “moderate” like Roberts, appointed by GWB…..

    • Give Me Freedom September 5, 2020, 1:00 am

      The 2nd Amendment is easy to read and understand to anyone who studies it for little bit. Our Constitutional republic is all about checks and balances. Tyrant Judges do not like anything that checks their power as the common people owning semi automatic long guns with standard capacity twenty and thirty round magazines puts a check against them.

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