I-594 covers flare and nail guns

Via email from Kirk Parker we find still more absurdity in I-594:

The definition of firearm contained in state law and in I-594 reads, “… A weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder.”

Notice the key words “or device” in the definition.

Walmart and many sporting goods stores sell 12-gauge flare guns used for signaling straight off the shelves.

These flare guns have previously been determined to be firearms by the WSP Crime Lab in Tacoma because they fire a projectile by an explosive.

I-594 requires background checks for these sales, loans and transfers.

Home Depot, Lowe’s and other hardware stores sell Ramset nail guns, which use a gunpowder charge to fire nails, usually into concrete or steel.

These nail guns have actually been used in the past to murder people. I-594 requires background checks on these sales, loans and transfers.

I keep wondering about how the severability clause (Sec. 12) in I-594 is going to handle these things when the courts start stomping on this piece of trash. It says:

If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.

The courts can’t rewrite the definitions of “firearm”, “gun”, and “transfer”, can they? Isn’t it limited to just striking certain portions of it? If so then how can the transfer restrictions, or even background checks, be retained? Doesn’t this increase the chances the entire thing must be thrown out? If the legislature wants to try and rewrite it with a 2/3 majority do we have enough votes to block the rewrite so the entire thing must be thrown out?

36 thoughts on “I-594 covers flare and nail guns

  1. It sounds like they think they court-proofed it by saying that if it’s found not to apply to you it still applies to me. It was obviously written by people with no knowledge of or respect for the law.

  2. As ridiculous as the definition of a firearm sounds, I believe that has been in the RCW for a long time, just never noticed or taken seriously until now.

    • That is essentially what RCW 9.41.010 says right now, ( (9) “Firearm” means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder. ) but I’m not sure if that is what it said a month ago, or if the new language has already been put in.
      If it’s the same language, why include it in the initiative, if it’s not, where’s the difference?

  3. Not 100% sure, but I think flare guns are covered in the RCW under fireworks . Pretty sure nail guns are not. That should make for a few double-plus ungood giggle-snorts from the bench, if not several mega-fried synaptic misconnections.

    ‘s’all good. 🙂

  4. No, a court can’t ‘rewrite’ a statute, but may find that certain items were not covered by the ‘intent’ of the law.

    That can very easily open up a whole ‘nother can of worms if there has been case law and previous criminal convictions based on what is or isn’t a ‘firearm’ in the state of Wawa.

    The litigants of the expected suit against this piece of tripe should hammer home the concept of “wholly unconstitutional due to being vague, arbitrary and unenforceable”.

    In the meantime, have another group push really hard for writs of mandamus for all divisions of the Popo/DA/PA that neglect to properly enforce the law. This might sound contrary, but cramming this law down the throat of boaters and construction trades will make the hue and cry for it’s being found unconstitutional quite loud.

    • “No, a court can’t ‘rewrite’ a statute, but may find that certain items were not covered by the ‘intent’ of the law.”

      Of course they can. Did you forget Roberts rewriting the ACA?

      He turned an obvious penalty into a tax, ignoring the fact that if it is a tax, then the entire bill is unconstitutional due to it originating in the Senate.

  5. The effect of full enforcement will spread far and wide. Joe’s Remodeling and Construction will have to raise its rates to cover either: 1) having Bob, who “owns” the Ramset (or equivalent) use it every time it needs to be used, no matter what that means in travel time or delays, or; 2) Buy a Ramset (or equivalent) for everyone who might need to use one, which means each one will come with a background check and potential felony charges for Harry using Fred’s Ramset. And, what’s the procedure (and cost) for Home Depot, Lowe’s and Charley’s Ace Hardware getting access to the system so they can perform background checks? Or, will Ramsets be available only at FFLs?

    What happens when a U.S. Coast Guard-mandated flare gun is used by a boat passenger who is not the legal “owner” of the flare gun, and thus guilty of a felony illegal transfer? Or would a smart passenger simply let the boat sink and other passengers drown because she didn’t want to be charged with a felony?

    I still think the solution (one of them, anyway) will be to make sure I-594 is enforced good and hard on everyone who has the potential to have it enforced on them.

    Random thought: does a wax or paper plug as used in a blank cartridge constitute a “projectile”? If so, what happens in theatrical productions? (And, does “projectile” cover the high pressure – meaning the dense slug – of compressed gas from a blank cartridge? Which is exactly what happens with shaped charges).

    • They put in an exemption for artistic performances, and actually it is probably the most broadly written of all the exemptions. It covers the performance and practice, while lending a gun for a shooting completion is only legal for the copetion itself. The performance doesn’t have to be officially sanctioned by a government body (unlike a shooting range temporary transfer), and if one of the performers is a prohibited person unbeknownst to the gun owner, the gun owner does not go to jail. The self-defense exemption is considerably more harsh in that if you give a gun to someone so they can defend themselves (at the exact moment when they are justified in shooting someone in self-defense otherwise it’s a crime) and that person turns out to be a felon (and you didn’t bother to ask because they were about to die or suffer great bodily harm), you go to jail.

      It’s almost like they didn’t want to piss off the actor’s guild because they are big Democrat doners or something.

      • Got to assume that he has a yacht, probably a sailing one. And that is has a flare gun that someone besides Bill Gates bought. And that Gates and multiple employees have access to it.

  6. Maybe a bit of satire? Go out and protest a Lowes or Home Depot over the illegal transactions going on in there. Invite the media. Demand to know why Home Depot and Lowes are thwarting the will of the people of Washington by selling a firearm without the proper background checks. Remind contractors that nail guns can’t be freely shared from employee to employee anymore.

  7. Does WA have a safe storage law ala CA? That would lead to all sorts of fun with flare guns nail guns and the like.
    And what about commercial boats where there is more than one captain?

    • What might be interesting is that a flare gun is required safety equipment, at least on boats over a certain size. That means that a felon can’t own or captain those boats / ships, as they would be “in possession” of the “gun.”

      • And no one can rent a barebones charter unless they bring their own flare gun or do two background checks.

      • Visual distress signals are required. Many of them are pyrotechnic but not all require a dedicated launcher that resembles a gun. Boaters have known to avoid having the wrong kind of distress signals in New York for a long time…

    • There is no “safe storage” laws in WA other than “reckless endangerment” law which also applies to everything including swimming pools, buckets half-filled with water, and poisons easily accessible to toddlers.

  8. “The courts can’t rewrite the definitions of ‘firearm’, ‘gun’, and ‘transfer’, can they?”
    If they can change the definition of marriage, they can change the definition of anything.

  9. These people want to ban kitchen knives, airsoft, and flare guns (as witnessed in Formerly Great Britain). IIRC, possession of a flare gun in the UK (on land at least) requires proper licensing and background checks.

    It is a feature, not a bug, from a certain point of view.

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  11. Move out of that dump for a state people, the best way to teach these dumb-ass
    law makers how stupid they really are is to take the money away. No better way to do that than to MOVE. Come down south where you can still buy a freaking nail gun without having to go through a background check. Oh i almost forgot, you people voted that law in right? Uh never-mind stay up there, good luck.

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      • Someone needs to stick an upper and a lower in front of each of the billionaires and leaders that pushed that mess and ask them what meets the definition and why. These people are idiots.

        • No they aren’t. They are traitors and criminals. Don’t mistake their evil intent for ignorance, the record has made it perfectly clear that they are doing this intentionally and fully know what they are doing, and intend to do just that and more.

  15. The 14th Amendment “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
    I594: “If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.”
    So equal protection is out the window now?

  16. A large part of the purpose of the 14th amendment was to protect the people’s right to arms from state infringement. But the 14th amendment was gutted not long after it was ratified (the “Slaughter House Cases” if I remember right). See Stephen Halbrook’s great book “That every man be armed” for chapter and verse on this and many related items.

  17. Call me crazy, but I really want a prosecutor to start prosecuting general contractors and construction workers for concrete nailers. Not just the ones that use 22 blanks but combustion nailers that use propane or butane as well, because technically that is an “explosive” and the law is not limited to gunpowder. Then I want them to go after every hardware store that sells these items for failing to do background for either sale or purchase of combustion nailers.

    Seriously.

    I have come to the conclusion that the only way to fight bad laws like this is to rigidly enforce them. Make people feel the actual ramifications of their actions. Use the law of unintended consequences to bite people, hard.

    • I agree. Otherwise this hangs around like a snake in the grass waiting to bite people at the discretion of some unscrupulous prosecutor.

  18. “…an explosive such as gunpowder.”

    Smokeless powder isn’t an explosive. Now where does this leave us?

    • They don’t care. The law means what they want it to mean. The meanings of words will be decided whenever and however they chose to define them when they need them defined.

  19. Severability as a concept in law needs to go.

    Yes, it would require an amendment to the state constitution.

    No, there’s no chance of such an amendment passing.

    But, it really needs to go, and here’s why. When a bill, initiative, or referendum is put to a final vote, it’s a package deal. A bill, in particular, may have been amended beyond all recognition from its original filed form, but still, when the actual vote comes, it is what it is.

    What legal or ethical sense is there to allow parts of it be voided piecemeal, when if the remaining part had been the actual final form of the bill, it might not have passed?

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