For immediate release:
Measure I-1639 which will be on the ballot this fall for voters in the state of Washington, and while we all want to reduce violence and make our communities safer, this bloated measure not only fails to appreciably make the state safer, it would add onerous and troubling language to the legal framework and put an undue burden on those who can least afford it. In addition, as an omnibus “safety” bill, voters are unable to evaluate and vote for the individual pieces that may have merit on their own, and instead must judge the entire 22 page package while in the voting booth. This alone makes the package worth rejecting.
First, some background. Despite the impression one might get from listening to the news, we are in one of the safest points in the history of this country from a violence perspective. The murder rate today nationally is near the same rate as it was in the 1950’s, and in Washington specifically, our already low murder rate is down 40% from the 1990’s. The major focus of this law revolves around semi-automatic rifles, which account for 1.6% of gun deaths in the state, more people were murdered with a knife in the state than were killed by a rifle of any kind, including semi-automatic rifles.
In fact, Washington has an even bigger problem than the murder rate, we have a suicide problem. In Washington, 77% of the deaths involving a firearm are the result of someone taking their own life and rather than focusing on this, we instead see this bill focusing on things that are largely a distraction and make it indeed seem that we are “doing something”, when in fact we should be “doing something” that actually makes a difference in the lives of the common citizen.
There’s a lot to unpack with this bill, so we’ll just highlight some of the more egregious issues.
- Redefining all semi-automatic rifles as “assault rifles”. Not only is this language intentionally inflammatory and intended to invoke a visceral emotional response from the voting public, it also means that even common hunting rifles are now put into that category. Remember that they only account for 1.6% of all gun deaths in the state.
- Onerous training requirements. We at the Liberal Gun Club are big fans of training. In fact, it’s one of those things that we are very much so focused on as an organization and we have classes and instructors nationally. That said, the requirement to have had a sanctioned training for every purchase within the last 5 years, rather than a competency test does nothing more than create an unwieldy mechanism to reduce gun ownership. It’s also a class barrier, as both time and money is in short supply for those who are lower on the socio-economic ladder, and those may indeed be the folks who need access the most if they live in dangerous neighborhoods or need an effective method to protect their livelihoods in our country.
- Safe storage. while we actively encourage everyone to safely store firearms according to their situation, this new law can be used as a bludgeon by prosecutors to penalize those who were victimized already. If we were serious about safe storage, instead there would be funds to give gun owners locks and/or safes at a reduced or no charge to low income households.
Given these issues with the proposed law, the Liberal Gun Club encourages everyone in the state of Washington to vote no on this ballot measure.