One State's Gun Control Initiative Will Appear On The November Ballot Despite Questionable Practices

Posted: Aug 25, 2018 2:15 PM

The Washington State Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court's decision on the state's controversial gun control ballot initiative, I-1639. The Court ruled unanimously that the initiative must appear on the November ballot.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation, along with a handful of individuals, previously challenged the initiative's state constitutionality. According to NRA and SAF, the ballot initiative's supporters didn't follow state laws regarding proper formatting. 

"The problem with the petitions is that they failed to underline new law and strike through removed law so that the reader could not know the current law, added law and subtracted law," Alan Gottlieb, Founder and Executive Director of SAF, previously told Townhall.

"If they are so careless about knowing what is, or is not, shown on their own petitions, how is anyone else supposed to know? They’re asking people to sign an initiative that is difficult, if not impossible to read,” Gottlieb said. “And now we’ve discovered that even if people can read the fine print, it does not appear to be a ‘true and correct copy’ of the proposed measure as submitted to the state.

According to the Court, the statute the NRA and SAF referenced is "narrow" and
"it does not allow for preelection judicial review of the form, process, substance, or constitutionality of an initiative petition."

The Court also said the statute is focused solely on the validity of signatures and "is limited to enforcing the number-of-signature requirements and is not available where, as here, there is no actual challenge to the counting of signatures."

Gottlieb said the Court skirted their "abrogated its duty to protect the state constitution and state election law" with the decision. 

"The court never addressed the merits of the complaints against I-1639, instead choosing to ignore the law," Gottlieb said in a statement. “Essentially, the court has unanimously decided to nullify the state election law. Henceforth, if an initiative petition is left blank on the reverse side by its sponsor, there is no way that can be challenged for not complying with state law.”

According to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, if passed, I-1639 would:
• Raise the age someone can purchase a rifle to 21.
• Create an "enhanced background check system similar to what is used for handguns."
• Require a person to complete a firearms safety training course.
• Create a common stand for secure gun storage.

The NRA did not respond to Townhall's request for comment.