Quote of the day—Washington State Supreme Court

We hold that that I-976 violates article II, section 19 because it contains multiple subjects.

Washington State Supreme Court
October 15, 2020
GARFIELD COUNTY ) TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY; ) KING COUNTY; CITY OF ) SEATTLE; WASHINGTON STATE ) TRANSIT ASSOCIATION; ) ASSOCIATION OF WASHINGTON ) CITIES; PORT OF SEATTLE; ) INTERCITY TRANSIT; ) AMALGAMATED TRANSIT ) UNION LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ) OF WASHIINGTON; and ) MICHAEL ROGERS v. STATE OF WASHINGTON
[I-976 is primarily about reducing car license fees. It also required “Sound Transit’s bonds had to be retired early or refinanced”. The Washington State constitution specifically requires that all initiatives be limited to a single subject. That I-976 violated the constitutional requirement of a single subject resulted in a 9-0 ruling against it.

At first glance the average reader might wonder why this blog would have a particular interest in this case. Let me assure you this is EXTREMELY interesting to gun owners of this state.

I-1639 has so many different subjects that I won’t both to list them all. But here is a sample:

  • Enhanced background checks (page 3)
  • Training requirements (page 4)
  • Additional license fees for “semiauto assault rifle” (page 8)
  • Waiting period of 10 days for “semiauto assault rifles” (page 10)
  • Secure gun storage required in the home (page 10)
  • Gun dealers must post warnings about unsecured gun storage (page 12)
  • Out of state residents are prohibited from purchasing “semiautomatic assault rifles” (interesting loophole pointed out to me recently is that it is apparently legal give or loan such a rifle to an out of state resident) (page 21)
  • Persons under 21 may not purchase a “semiauto assault rifle” (page 22)
  • Provides for the department of licensing to develop a process to frequently verify, “that persons who acquired pistols or semiautomatic assault rifles pursuant to this chapter remain eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law” (page 23)

Wouldn’t a reasonable person conclude the above subjects constitute more than one subject? Or would the Washington Supreme Court, which probably has never seen a gun law it didn’t approve of, conclude, “It’s all about guns. This is is a single subject. Case closed.” I give it about a 75% chance the court would claim it’s a single subject.

In addition to the consistent hostility of the court toward gun owners there is another reason why civil rights groups may avoid this approach.

There is already a Federal lawsuit working it’s way through the courts challenging I-1639 on numerous other issues. If the Federal lawsuit succeeds then it has nationwide impact. If a lawsuit in state court succeeds before the Federal lawsuit is concluded then the Federal lawsuit would likely be declared moot and the impact of a victory over I-1639 would be limited to the State of Washington.—Joe]

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