Washington State gun laws just became some of the strictest in the nation. On Tuesday, voters approved passage of I-1639. The ballot measure passed with 60 percent of the vote. A little under 40 percent voted against the measure, mostly in more rural areas.
“My generation has been defined by gun violence,” said Stephen Paolini, according to the Seattle Times. “We have been defined by continued and repeated inaction by our elected officials. I hope tonight this victory is a message to our elected officials: Enough is enough.”
Proponents mark this as a victory in reducing gun violence. They claim that the measure addresses root causes. However, opponents say the measure will do nothing to curb gun violence. They also claim it violates the Second Amendment and makes self defense virtually impossible.
I-1639 was the only gun-regulation ballot measure in front of voters on Tuesday across the country. Because of this, the country watched with anticipation from both sides of the argument. Much of the support for I-1639 came from large donors, such as Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder who recently died.
The National Rifle Association and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms spent the most money in opposition of the measure. In fact, Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee said they are already considering a legal challenge.
“A handful of billionaires put in millions of dollars to buy votes and we were outspent,” Gottlieb said. “But while they were able to buy votes, our hope is they won’t be able to buy judges.”
How Does I-1639 Change Washington State Gun Laws?
To start, I-1639 raises the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21 years old. Drafters intended to make buying AR-15-style rifles more difficult, but the measure also affects many popular hunting firearms.
It also creates a training requirement and a 10-day waiting period for all semi-automatic rifle purchases. The state already requires a waiting period for handgun purchases, but this bill does not allow an exemption for weapons permit holders. The bill even bans individuals under 21 from possession a semi-auto rifle outside of their property.
Additionally, I-1639 affects handguns. Once the law goes into affect, handgun purchasers must undergo enhanced background checks. It even requires guns be stored in specific ways to prevent unauthorized access. Methods include safes, storage lockers or trigger locks. In fact, it makes unlawful storage of firearms a felony.
With the country watching, the new Washington State gun laws will probably determine how far gun laws could possibly go forward. If they work, anti-gunners will point to the Evergreen State. If they don’t, so will the pro-gun forces.