The measure makes sensible improvements to Washington state gun laws that will save lives.
Washington voters clearly fed up with gun violence passed one of the strongest new gun laws in the nation.
After the first day of vote-counting, Initiative 1639 held a decisive lead with 60 percent of the vote statewide.
The measure makes sensible improvements to Washington state gun laws that will save lives. It makes buying a semi-automatic assault rifle more difficult for everyone. It raises the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21 for semi-automatic rifles — the same age required for handgun purchases — increases background-check requirements and adds a 10-day waiting period. The proposal would also establish new safe-storage rules and require safety training for buyers of any kind of gun or rifle.
If Washington had the same rules in 2016, three young people who were killed at a Mukilteo house party might still be alive. On July 30, 2016, a 19-year-old who had recently bought an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle killed three friends. The son of the citizen sponsor of I-1639, Paul Kramer, was seriously injured in that shooting.
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“I hope tonight this victory is a message to our elected officials: Enough is enough,” said Stephen Paolini, the 22-year-old campaign manager for I-1639, at a gathering on Tuesday night.
The Legislature’s indolence has left strengthening of the state’s gun laws almost entirely up to advocacy groups using the initiative process. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility has filled in the gap with a series of proposals that make Washington safer one small step at a time.
This proposal probably will not end gun violence at Washington schools, shopping malls and house parties. That is too high a bar to set for a few changes in state law. But I-1639 is a sensible and fair new tool that takes Washington a few more steps toward that goal.