Gun-control initiative title misleading
Last updated 10/31/2019 at 10:57am
OLYMPIA – The state Office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson has titled a proposed ballot measure to repeal gun-control measures enacted under Initiative 1639, but intentionally left out the word “repeal.”
A letter from Deputy Solicitor General Peter B. Gonick sent to Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Monday, Oct. 21, titled the measure, “Initiative Measure No. 1094 concerns firearms.”
Neither the title nor description mentions that the purpose of the measure is to repeal I-1639, approved by voters mostly in the Puget Sound area last year.
East of the Cascades, 18 of 20 counties soundly rejected I-1639; only Spokane and Whitman counties supported the measure.
Lincoln County voters opposed the measure by 75 percent to 25 percent, according to Office of the Secretary of State records. That was the highest of any opposition county statewide.
I-1639 redefined all semi-automatic rifles as “assault” weapons, expanded background checks, implemented additional gun safety training laws, extended waiting periods, prevented hunters younger than 21 from purchasing and owning a semi-automatic rifle, prohibited gun dealers from selling to out-of-state residents and required dealers to also sell gun safes. In addition, the measure made firearms owners criminally liable if their weapon was obtained and used in a crime or death, even if the gun was stolen.
Under 1094, those gun restrictions would be repealed, and laws regarding the private sale and transfer would be modified.
I-1094 enthusiasts have until Jan. 3 to collect 300,000 signatures from registered voters.
While gun enthusiasts are ramping up their petition efforts, they are also pushing for disclosure of details in an investigation into ethics complaints filed against Ferguson for using his office to push I-1639.
They are also pursuing efforts to have him criminally charged.
Earlier this year, Ferguson was the subject of thousands of Affidavits of Adverse Witness filed across Eastern Washington.
Union Gap attorney Scott Brumbacher pushed those affidavits in an attempt to get a Superior Court to charge Ferguson with crimes related to using his position to advocate for a political measure. Courts in Benton, Yakima, Stevens and Ferry counties heard the complaints, but declined to pursue charges.
State law generally forbids all elected and hired government employees from using their position, supplies, staff and other taxpayer-funded items and services to advocate for ballot measures.
After the passage of the law last year, 22 of the county sheriffs in Washington state said they would not actively enforce I-1639 because it is unconstitutional.
Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, a Republican who has announced his candidacy for governor, was the first law enforcement officer to reject I-1639 on the basis that it’s unconstitutional.
Roger Harnack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.