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.”
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.
“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.”