By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
My home state – Washington – has been in the headlines lately for a controversial initiative, I-1639, a gun control initiative that some of my fellow Washingtonians believe will make us safer. Some aspects of the initiative wouldn’t really change too much about owning or buying a gun in Washington state in practical terms, but others are far more onerous.
It’s unfortunately a trend in this state, which is a shame. Up until recently, Washington state actually had some of the most balanced gun laws in the country.
The law would impose a mandatory waiting period on “assault rifles” of ten days, and would change the background check procedure for that class of firearms. Currently, Washington state uses a hybrid system, wherein long guns merely require the standard NICS check. Handgun purchases require a background check by local law enforcement – usually the county sheriff’s office – that uses the NICS as well as examining any additional local information.
A training certificate would be required to purchase “assault rifles,” and no one under age 21 would be able to purchase one except if only to be possessed in one’s home, fixed place of business or “real property under their control.”
Safe storage laws would be enacted, requiring all guns be either fitted with a lock or locked in a secure container. Stiff penalties would be imposed in case a prohibited person gained control of a firearm and used it to hurt themselves or anyone else.
Worse still, the initiative was found to be illegal in a court case due to how it was written, but the state’s Supreme Court bypassed the lower court and ordered it added to the ballot anyway.
The initiative is being spearheaded by a number of groups, mostly out of Seattle, which has much different sensibilities than most of the rest of Washington state. Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen, who the state government will listen to, don’t want the rest of the citizenry (whom they won’t listen to) to have guns, apparently, but they definitely want their armed guards to.
It isn’t the first time an initiative has gone to the ballot to chip away at gun rights in this state. A previous measure – I-594 – took effect in 2014, making Washington a universal background check state.
Previously, Washington state was actually an almost model state when it came to gun laws.
Washington state actually passed one of the earliest shall-issue permit laws in the country, enacting it in 1968. Only New Hampshire and Connecticut (which is a hybrid system; may-issue at law but effectively shall-issue in practice) beat the Evergreen state to the punch in that regard and it took Florida 20 years to catch up. Open carry doesn’t require a permit, but a concealed pistol license is easy to get as there is no state-required training course and the fee is one of the most reasonable in the country, so far as that goes.
Not quite constitutional carry, but not as intrusive as other states either. The stiff barriers for entry aren’t there, but some due diligence is involved.
Unfortunately, Washington isn’t as welcoming as others as far as reciprocity is concerned as no permit allowing persons under the age of 21 nor with the same background check scheme as Washington is recognized.
The background check system is a pain, but isn’t unreasonable to live with in most jurisdictions. Seattle, of course, is another matter; gun stores have been practically zoned out of existence, so you have to hit the outskirts of the city to buy guns or ammunition.
However, the Evergreen state seems to be rushing headlong into the same mentality as California, New York, Hawaii and other gun control havens. Some members of state government (including the attorney general) have declared they want “assault weapons” banned, a 10-round magazine restriction, and other gun control measures to follow.
Most states in the union have actually expanded gun rights in the past few decades, with the exception of course of the “assault weapon” ban of the 1990s. After it lapsed, more states are enacting constitutional carry laws. Washington, unfortunately, is one of the few that appears to be regressing.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.