You’re a firearms enthusiast. Statistically, as a law-abiding gun owner, you will take down more than twice as many criminals as the police with a less than 2% error rate as compared to law enforcement’s more than 11% error rate. If you are a woman, nearly a quarter million of you each year will use a firearm in self-defense in a sexual assault situation. More than 2.5 million instances of justified self-defense will occur annually and in those instances an overwhelming 92% will require only the drawing of your weapon or the firing of a warning shot; only 8% of cases result in an actual shooting. In areas where concealed carry is allowed the effect on the crime rate will be enormous, causing drastic drops in rapes, aggravated assaults, robberies, and murders. Three of five felons report a strong desire to avoid those who may be carrying a firearm. You are a law-abiding gun owner, and you want to teach your daughter to shoot.
Bringing up the next generation of safety-conscious shooters is an important responsibility, and with that in mind you take your daughter to an outdoor spot for her first lesson. Or perhaps you wish a proficient friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend to handle instruction, having decided your daughter would benefit from a different or more experienced hand. Maybe it’s your own property; maybe it’s an open area where shooting is legally permitted. You know your target, and what is beyond it. For this first lesson you’ve selected a Ruger 77/22 for its precision, usability and minimal recoil. You or your chosen teacher take your place alongside your daughter, who has already been thoroughly trained in safety, and you hand her the rifle.
You live in Washington state.
You’ve just committed a gross misdemeanor.
“To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.” George Mason
On November 4, 2014, I-594 will be up for the passing, and if it passes, hitting your favorite outdoor spot to teach your child to shoot will result in a gross misdemeanor the moment you hand them the gun – if it’s your first offense. Second offense? A felony. And yes, it would be possible to be charged with both the first and second offense all in one afternoon of shooting, because passing the gun back and forth will rack up the offenses.
“[I-594] is focused on honest hardworking citizens and making them criminals when they are not criminals.” Sheriff Alan Botzheim, Pend Orielle County
Under RCW 9.92.020 as it currently stands, punishment for a gross misdemeanor that is not already fixed by an existing statute is imprisonment in county jail for up to 364 days or by a fine of no more than $5,000, or by both. And under RCW 9.92.010, punishment for a felony that is not already fixed by an existing statute is confinement in a state correctional facility for 10 years or a fine of no more than $20,000, or by both. Of course, there’s no doubt Washington state legislators have some heavy-handed plan for bringing down the hammer on law-abiding gun owners should I-594 pass, but good luck sussing out those planned statutes today.
There are a slew of reasons why I-594 is more than just a bad idea; it’s a travesty. It’s not just a small step but a leap towards our very own Kristallnacht; it’s a gun rights disaster of epic proportions. And if you believe these words to be an exaggeration, you are either uninformed or on the side of the gun control crowd. This is why.
“My biggest concern is that this initiative is a fast track in turning many law abiding citizens into potential criminals.” Sheriff Brian Burnett, Chelan County
I-594 is being touted by supporters as nothing but background checks for the sale or transfer of firearms. Not only is it not a big deal, they say, but it would increase safety overall by ensuring only the law-abiding own firearms. Wait, doesn’t Washington already have laws in place regarding background checks? Yes, they do. In fact, the “gun show loophole” I-594 supporters lift up as an example of an apparent onslaught of criminals and insane asylum candidates getting their hands on what can only by a series of ma deuces and SAWs simply by sauntering into a Washington Arms Collector’s gun show does not exist. In order to purchase a gun at a WAC show, you must, guess what, pass a background check. Only members may purchase a firearm, and becoming a member means passing said check or producing a valid CPL – and yes, a CPL requires what? Passing a background check.
“I-594 will do nothing to stop the bad guys….it just puts more of a burden on the folks that follow the law.” Sheriff Frank Rogers, Okanogan County
The reality of the proposed background check changes is this: no one in Washington state will be able to sell or transfer a firearm without going through an FFL. This means no private sales and also affects inheritances: if you inherit a pistol from a deceased person, you have 60 days to file paperwork requesting you be allowed to keep it, otherwise you’ve committed a crime. And you’d better not discover a firearm the deceased had stored in the house after 61 days, or you’ve committed an unwitting crime – which is still a crime. For private sales it means going into an FFL to have it processed, and the FFL must get a letter from local law enforcement saying the new owner is allowed to have a gun, the time frame for which would be not the current 5-day background check limit for non-CPL holders but 10 days for everyone. And those 10 days can quickly rocket up to 60 if the new owner has lived in Washington for less than 90 days or doesn’t have a valid permanent Washington state driver’s license. And, of course, it affects gifts: the long gun an old boyfriend once gave me for Valentine’s Day would suddenly become illegal and have to be processed through an FFL, waiting period and all. Because, yes, this applies to all firearms, not just pistols. But there’s more.
“This initiative is a violation of the Second Amendment. I come from a gun owning family and it would be a crime every time someone wanted to use my trap gun at a trap shoot. Being in law enforcement for 24 years, this initiative is not going to keep guns off the street. What keeps guns off the street is keeping the felons that are using the guns illegally in jail.” Sheriff Ben Keller, Garfield County
As mentioned at the beginning, passing I-594 will also affect “temporary transfers.” What is a temporary transfer? That can be an action as simple as handing a rifle to a new shooter at your favorite outdoor shooting spot or passing your .308 to a fellow hunter over the age of 18. It also covers your wife’s best friend, whose abusive ex is actively after her, so you want to immediately loan her one of your legally owned firearms for protection; now you can’t, not without breaking the law. Supporters of the measure claim the clause regarding imminent danger covers life-or-death instances, but it doesn’t. That clause to “prevent imminent death” refers only to happening-now danger, as in, the ax murderer is currently charging you and the guy next to you has to use your gun to save your lives. And, by the way, you’d better hope you can prove you all really were about to die, otherwise, guess what, you’re both criminals. If you think proving imminent danger is easy, go have a chat with the George Zimmermans and Marissa Alexanders of the world.
And it extends to the range. The tradition of instructors loaning guns for class at the range would become illegal.
And your favorite gunsmith, the one so gifted with that custom rifle build you’ve been working on for the past year or who repaired your favorite handgun when you thought all hope was lost? If he isn’t federally licensed, he will no longer be allowed to do his job. Although supporters of the measure claim gunsmiths won’t be affected, they fail to mention it’s only the federally licensed gunsmiths who are safe, and you might be surprised just how many are not. It also means you cannot repair your friend’s gun, by the way, unless you want to face jail time. And don’t dare consider popping a new slide plate on for that friend, either, or screwing a Pearce Grip Extender onto his spare mag, not unless you have a criminal record wish.
“I wholeheartedly oppose I-594. It’s just stupid. It penalizes the honest and law abiding citizens, and does nothing to keep the criminals from having firearms.” Sheriff Pete Warner, Ferry County
I-594 is being pushed ahead with millions in funding from none other than former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates. Some gun owners in Washington question why a New York politician is so mightily interested in their state’s politics, and the answer is simple: precedence. While states like New York and California are known for their rabid anti-gun measures, Washington is currently actually one of the better states to live in as a gun owner despite being overwhelmingly liberal in other ways. If Bloomberg and Gates can bully Washington state into gun-control lock-step, the others are sure to follow. Taking on a Southern state would be more than the millionaires can chew, but taking on Washington isn’t only a possibility, it’s looking to become a reality.
“I believe that the current proposal would put an unnecessary strain on law enforcement agencies without any additional funding, and will not affect in any way the ability for criminals intent on getting a firearm to do so.” Sheriff John Hunt, Adams County
There are, however, some powerful and influential people opposing I-594. For example, there are currently 19 elected sheriffs who have spoken out against the measure publicly, including Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich of Spokane County, who said “I-594 is just another attempt to erode the Second Amendment.” Of course the NRA is doing its part to fight back as is the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation, if you’re a gun owner and not familiar with them you should be. Head over to their website and check out their #GUNVOTE campaign.). And then there’s the opposition coming from the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, a group just happening to represent the overwhelming majority of law enforcement line-level officers in the state, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association, which also opposes it. And there’s Alan Gottlieb.
Gottlieb is the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and a well-known political activist, but he isn’t just any activist. He earned his degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1971 and also attended the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown. He’s had 19 books published, many of which address our 2A rights, and he’s fighting, hard, to preserve the rights of gun owners in Washington state with an opposing measure: I-591.
I-591 is simple in its purpose. It would prohibit Washington state from carrying out background checks at a state level and give that power to the federal government instead. And it would forbid any government agency from seizing legally owned firearms without due process. But can it pass?
Gottlieb and many other pro-gunners – including myself – believe the odds are I-594 is, unfortunately, going to pass. The money being poured into it by outside entities is simply staggering and the political force behind it is substantial. In the world of politics, money talks, and the misinformation campaign being spearheaded by the likes of Bloomberg, Gates, and – guess who – Gabrielle Gifford has been skillfully dealt. The average citizen viewing a pro-I-594 advertisement on television will believe it to be nothing but a safety measure; it is only the well-informed who will see the truth. Sadly, who among us believes the majority of voters today are truly well-informed and not heavily influenced by shiny campaigns and fear-mongering?
“I-594 does little to nothing in addressing the high profile shooting sprees and massacres that have pushed the gun control advocates’ agenda: registering, restricting and controlling the law abiding citizens’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The very fact that this legislation further expands the government’s massive database on law abiding citizens is even more disturbing. Government cannot address the serious mental health issues at the root of this violence through gun control. It won’t work.” Sheriff Steve Mansfield, Lewis County
Continuing the fight against I-594 is well worth it, and the best way to fight back is by voting for I-591. If both measures pass their canceling-out powers would cause the issue to move on to a higher court, a fact that could very well save gun rights for lawful owners in Washington. Allowing I-594 to pass unopposed would be a disaster not only for those in the Evergreen State but for gun owners across the country, because what happens in Washington, in New York, in California, all has a ripple effect.
I-594 is nothing but gun control based on fear and misinformation. It is not a simple background check mandate; it’s an all-gun registration effort. It’s an attempt at control, the next step in taking our right to bear arms away, and only one small step from warrantless searches resulting in seizures of legally owned firearms. If you are a resident of Washington, take heed, and vote no on I-594, and yes on I-591. If you are not a resident, this is your warning: just because it is not happening in your state today does not mean it will not arrive tomorrow. Your Second Amendment rights are at risk. What are you going to do about it?
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” James Madison
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