NPI’s friends at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced today they intend to spearhead a measure for the November 2018 ballot that would restrict civilian access to military grade weapons in Washington State, also known as assault rifles.
Students across Washington and the United States walked out of class earlier today to protest the country’s failure to protect its people by implementing laws that would reduce gun violence. April 20th was chosen for a day of action in part because it is the nineteenth anniversary of the horror at Columbine.
“Gun violence is an avoidable epidemic and is far too common in our country and state. Too many people have lost their lives to violence; too many families, children, and communities are rattled to the core. The people of Washington — from the kids marching for their lives, to their parents and grandparents who are calling their elected officials – demand action NOW,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, in a statement distributed to the press.
“We’re answering their call with a comprehensive ballot initiative to help ensure safer schools and neighborhoods and through extensive work with voters ahead of November’s election. We must elect more gun responsibility champions and do whatever we can to strengthen our gun violence prevention laws.”
“My son Will attended the house party that tragically turned into a mass shooting. I’m so thankful every day that he managed to get out alive. Three other students were not so lucky,” said Paul Kramer, Mukilteo resident and citizen sponsor of the Reduce Assault Weapon Violence Initiative.
“We need comprehensive reform when it comes to assault weapons. Teens should not be able to possess these dangerous weapons. We’ve seen what can happen when they do. We can’t let that happen again.”
The forthcoming initiative would, as described by the Alliance, do the following:
- Raise the minimum purchase age to 21 for all semi-automatic weapons.
- In Washington, it is currently easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to purchase a handgun because assault weapons are treated the same as hunting rifles. This must change.
- Create an Enhanced Background Check at the time of purchase including:
- A local law enforcement check identical to the one we currently require for handguns.
- Requiring the purchaser show that they have completed a safety training course within the last five years that includes basic safety and safe storage rules, safe handling, and an overview of state and federal firearms laws.
- Dangerous Access Prevention.
- Holds gun owners responsible if a child or other prohibited person accesses and uses an unsafely stored firearm to harm themselves or another person.
- Ensure continued eligibility to possess or purchase an assault weapon.
- Requires the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) and the appropriate law enforcement agencies to work together to develop a process to ensure that purchasers continue to be eligible to possess a firearm.
- Require informed consent at the point of purchase about the inherent risks associated with the presence of a firearm in the home.
- Requires the notification at the point of sale that owning a firearm increases one’s risk for injury, death by suicide, domestic violence and homicide.
- Establish a waiting period up to 10 days for the purchase of an assault weapon.
While the measure does not ban the sale of military grade weapons, restricting their purchase to persons age twenty-one or higher and requiring a waiting period would be an improvement over the status quo. We can expect that the NRA and other gun enthusiast groups will fiercely oppose this measure, but we overcame their opposition to pass I‑594 in 2014 and I‑1491 in 2016.
The filing has not yet appeared on the Secretary of State’s website, but we imagine the text will be available soon. The next step will be for the measure to be assigned a number, then a ballot title. After any ballot title challenges are resolved, signature gathering can begin. The Alliance will have about eight to nine weeks to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. About 350,000 signatures will needed to make the measure eligible for a random sample check. (259,622 valid signatures are required, and a cushion of 25% is recommended to ensure qualification).
This year, the signature deadline is the close of business on July 6th.