Federal judge rules I-1639 contitutional
Last updated 9/2/2020 at 9am
TACOMA - A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that gun-control measure Initiative 1639 is constitutional.
U.S. District Court of Western Washington Judge Ronald Leighton, a Whitworth University graduate, issued his ruling Monday on the gun control measure.
Under I-1639, semi-automatic rifles are redefined as "assault rifles," adults 18-20 are barred from having semi-automatic rifles, and dealers are required to sell safes and gun locks and prohibited from selling them to out-of-state residents.
The law also made owners criminally liable should their firearm – even if stolen – is used in the commission of a crime.
Citing existing laws, Leighton said the measure is constitutional.
"These authorities demonstrate that reasonable age restrictions on the sale, possession, or use of firearms have an established history in this country," Leighton wrote.
The ruling was a blow to the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation, which filed suit to overturn the measure opposed by 22 of the state's 39 sheriff's as well as most Eastern Washington voters.
The measure passed statewide mostly due to support from the Puget Sound region of Western Washington.
East of the Cascades, voters in 18 of 20 counties opposed the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot measure.
The strongest opposition in the state came from Lincoln County, where more than 75% of voters rejected it. Opposition also topped 70% in Ferry, Stevens and Garfield counties.
In Eastern Washington, only voters in Spokane and Whitman counties supported the strict gun-control measure. Whitman County led the way with 54.33% support and Spokane County followed with 50.89%.
The move helped launch the gubernatorial campaign of Republic Police Chief Loren Culp, who not only opposed the measure, but also introduced a Second Amendment "sanctuary city" effort in his hometown.
Culp will face incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee in the upcoming gubernatorial general election.
Culp will be the keynote speaker at the Franklin County Republican's annual Lincoln Day Dinner (and this year, "protest') on Saturday in Eltopia.
Inslee has been a staunch advocate of stricter gun control laws, bolstered by support from State Attorney General Robert "Bob" Ferguson.
In a prepared statement released Monday, Ferguson called on sheriff's opposed to I-1639 to reconsider their position.
"It should not take another letter from me to convince them to do their jobs," Ferguson said.