I-1639 would impose incoherent regulations

Changes to age, storage requirements have good intentions, poor execution



I-1639 would establish a vague definition of assault weapons which would not help reduce gun violence. Raising the minimum age to own these weapons is inconclusive.

SAAD NABIL ALI, Evergreen columnist

Washington Initiative 1639 would establish no substantive regulations to prevent gun violence or any measures that are scientifically proven to reduce unlawful ownership.

Advocacy for gun reform has been growing exponentially alongside the increase in media coverage on mass shootings and school violence. Although I agree that further policies need to be instituted to stop gun violence, most gun reform bills actually have no way of doing this.

This is where I see I-1639 being problematic.

Some of the main points of I-1639 are raising the age restriction to 21 for assault weapon ownership and more stringent purchasing and storage requirements.

“One of my concerns is with how poorly written and broad it is, especially with semi-auto and assault weapons,” said Nicholas Saylor, president of the WSU Gun Club.

The bill gives a vague definition of what assault weapons are and what distinguishes some guns from others.

The bill would define assault weapons as “any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge,” according to I-1639. “ ‘Semi-automatic assault rifle’ does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action.”

In addition to the ambiguity of the definition, there isn’t really evidence to suggest that raising the purchasing age from 18 to 21 will have any effect on gun violence over time.

When looking at states that have utilized age restrictions on all guns, the data on gun violence is just too inconclusive.

“The only states that have chosen to limit all guns sales to 21 and older are Hawaii and Illinois. The results have been far from clear: Illinois ranks in the top 10 states for gun homicides, while Hawaii celebrates low rates of gun violence,” according to National Review.

Purchasing requirements also appear to be inconsistent in what they’re trying to achieve.

I agree that some gun safety training, which may take as little as 12 hours to complete, makes sense for reducing gun violence as a result of failure to properly understand the dangerous capability of a gun.

The initiative, however, introduces a longer period for the purchaser to obtain their firearm without any principled cause.

Under the measure, a dealer could not deliver a semi-automatic assault rifle to a purchaser until 10 business days have passed from the date of the application for purchase, according to Ballotpedia.org.

After legally procuring a firearm, owners would still be subject to lawful seizures of their firearms if they no longer maintain the proper capacity to wield it. Who exactly determines this and under what criteria your rights may be revoked are pretty unclear.

“Another aspect of this initiative would require the Department of Licensing develop a cost-effective system that verifies a gun owner remains legally allowed to have a gun on an annual basis,” according to MyNorthwest.com.

The gun storage portion of the initiative wouldn’t even require people to lock their firearms safely, but it may find a gun owner criminally responsible for the theft of their firearm if it is used in a crime under a newly imposed community endangerment law.

“Under the measure, a person who left a firearm in a place where a prohibited person … could potentially gain access to the firearm would be guilty of community endangerment, a class C felony, if a prohibited person gained access to the firearm,” according to I-1639.

The lack of meaningful solutions to gun violence has prompted some interest groups like the National Rifle Association to take legal action on the part of our Second Amendment rights.

For all the talk about the NRA and corrupt money running our country, the NRA uses what relatively little capital it has to bring awareness to the unlawful invasion of our rights by the government.

Monetarily, the NRA doesn’t fall in the top three, top 10 or even top 50 lobbying groups, according to TheHill.com.

The NRA actually ranks 250th among other national donors, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Regulating gun ownership must be approached reasonably and responsibly in a manner that does the absolute minimum to limit our Second Amendment rights, because the truth is that our right to bear arms isn’t meant for hunting, gun ranges or enthusiasts.

“[The Second Amendment right is] basically to defend against a tyrannical government,” Saylor said.

I-1639 needs restructuring to ensure the exercise of our Second Amendment rights is regulated consciously and only to the extent needed to protect public interests.

The regulation of our rights needs to be constructed cautiously and with awareness of what is really being accomplished and the impact and precedence it will set for the future.