I-594 fears confirmed

I received an email from a reader with a attached document from the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dated December 2 and addressed to “Hunter Education Instructors” with the subject of “Analysis of Initiative 594.”

The part of most interest to me is the following:

Although we are still evaluating I-594, it does not initially appear that student-to-student transfers of firearms would fall within the general WDFW exemption for law enforcement agencies. For students under eighteen, however, temporary firearms transfers for educational purposes are exempt if the student is under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult (such as a Hunter Education Instructor) who may lawfully possess firearms. Students eighteen and older are not entitled to this exemption. However, regardless of the age of the person, temporary transfers that occur at an established, authorized shooting range are also exempt, if the transfer occurs, and the firearm is kept at all times, at the range. If adult student-to-student transfers are not exempt, then adult students may, without triggering I-594’s background check/transfer requirements—

  • Use inert firearms or air rifles (which do not meet the definition of a firearm); or
  • Hand their functional firearms to an instructor who then hands it to the other student.

In summary, the transfer/background check exemption I- 594 applies to the following transfers of firearms to or from WDFW Hunter Education Instructors while in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program:

  • Between WDFW employees and Hunter Education Instructors
  • From one Hunter Education Instructor to another Hunter Education Instructor
  • Between Hunter Education Instructors and NGOs
  • Between Hunter Education Instructors and students

WDFW is the “State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife”. The volunteer instructors to WDFW are considered “law enforcement” or else they would not receive the the exemption described above. And notice that students are not allowed to transfer the guns between themselves. They must transfer the gun to an instructor who then transfers it to another student.

Private instructors, such as myself, would not have an exemption unless we were at an “authorized range” (“authorized” is undefined). We cannot do classroom work that involves gun handling at any location other than an “authorized” range. Even then it is in doubt unless we are using the guns that are “kept at all times” at the range.

So, now you have it. All those proponents of I-594 said we were alarmist and crazy for saying things like this would require a background check. Now we have word from the State of Washington that says, in essence, “You gun nuts were right about I-594 and the anti-gun people lied to get it passed.” But that is to be expected. Anti-Second Amendment people have long had a culture of deception.

Update: The complete letter is posted here.

Update2: It is important that you also read The Cluemeter: Washington State violates the Letter of Initiative 594. It appears that WDFW may have misunderstood the definition of “law enforcement officer” as it applies to I-594.


31 thoughts on “I-594 fears confirmed

  1. I heard the owner of a range who also has a law degree review I-594 before the election. One of his questions was about “authorized range.” As far as he could tell there is no “range authorization” in Washington State law. Me, I would like to think “that which isn’t prohibited…” — but I fear some will argue that there are no authorized ranges in the state.
    Thanks for getting the word out on this WDFW statement (which I think is actually a liberal interpretation).

    • It would be interesting if someone were to send the state an application for “recognition” as a shooting range, to see what happens (if anything).

  2. Pingback: Oleg Volk on I-594 | The View From North Central Idaho

  3. I work with the RWVA and Appleseed Project events, loaning rifles to shooters that don’t have a functioning rifle of their own happens always. I wrote the Attorney General’s office for our status. They said it wasn’t law until the Secretary of State validated it by 4 December, 2014. But added at the end I would need to hire a good lawyer. So I know what side the officials of the state are on, but then I remember trapping moles was outlawed, until Governor Locke told Fish and Wildlife to ignore violations.

    • Trapping moles is still against the law. That the governor, the chief law enforcement agent for our state, has decided not to enforce the law doesn’t change the law.

      I personally think that all laws should be enforced vigorously… so the public understands the effect of too many bad laws and is motivated to vote for politicians who will repeal them. By selective enforcement, we build a system that encourages disregard for the law while creating a trap for everyone through arbitrary enforcement.

      • The Dutch know this all too well, with the selective non-enforcement of marijuana laws. No, weed is NOT legal in Holland, that’s a popular misstatement of the reality. It’s illegal, but it is selectively unenforced at the individual retail sale level only. “Coffee shops” (what the Dutch call weed stores) are “tolerated” at the front door, but outlaws at the loading dock. And selling weed in bulk, or growing it, is also still illegal and those laws ARE enforced.
        With stuff like that, you really can’t figure out from one day to the next what the real rules are.

  4. Using this “logic”, if WAC gets the Puyallup PD to become a sponsor of our HFS classes, we’ll be “formal volunteer employees of a Law Enforcement Agency” and be legal.

    The scream you hear is logic, being tortured.

    • Remember, complaints about “loopholes in the law” are really complaints that someone else’s reading comprehension is better than the complainer’s.

  5. Plus, I594 refers to Law Enforcement Officers as defined under Revised Code of Washington, which I don’t think applies to Hunters Safety Instructors.

    • Indeed.

      Written guidance from the WDFW would not trump the law as written. Just because WDFW says that Hunter’s Ed instructors are “LEOs” doesn’t mean that a zealous prosecutor couldn’t make a case… The instructor might beat the rap but they wouldn’t beat the ride.

      I’d be more interested in a state AG opinion, but even that could change.

  6. I still think there will be circumstances under which a District Attorney will apply this law to nail guns. Jack Johnson and the Mann Act, and abortion protesters and the RICO Act come to mind as examples of the extension.

  7. Pingback: SayUncle » I 594

  8. Erik,

    You’re right, but there is such a thing as zoning, and conforming use, conditional-use, or non-conforming but grandfathered use. (Tacoma Rifle and Revolver Club, of which I’m a member, went the whole process of getting out of non-but-grandfathered status a few years ago.) One could fairly argue that range that was operating according to zoning requirements would be “authorized”.

    • You *could* argue that, but the point is that without a statutory definition, you’d *have* to argue.

      And you can guess what happens if the powers-that-be decide to disagree with your argument.

  9. “However, regardless of the age of the person, temporary transfers that occur at an established, authorized shooting range are also exempt, if the transfer occurs, and the firearm is kept at all times, at the range.”

    The way I read the above sentence, is that the gun must remain at the range for the period of the transfer. A firearm can be lent to a student, but the student may not then leave with the firearm. The firearm would have to be returned to the owner.

    • That is a possible, even probable, interpretation. But if the opportunity to nail a politically annoying activist at a range that was borrowing a buddy’s gat came up, I’d be the prosecutor seeing him on tape would go after him for not using a range gun, if only to make his life hell.
      Do you want to be the test case on that?

      • Thanks Joe, after reading that other section, I have to agree with your interpretation.

    • “The way I read the above sentence, is that the gun must remain at the range for the period of the transfer.”

      That’s what they’d like you to think. But if you look at the other exemptions they do express a limit on the duration of the exempt temporary transfer more the way you want to interpret this. It would have been just as easy for them to write “for the duration of the transfer” here. They did not.

      As the law is written, the only temporary transfers at a range that are exempt (apart from those that fall under other exemptions) are those where the firearm is a rental from the range, or where you store it there when not in use (are there even ranges like that anywhere in WA?)

      I think this is *exactly* what the authors intended.

      In order to get the “reasonable” interpretation you’re claiming, you have to ignore the obvious meaning of the plain language of the law: “kept at all times”.

      It is only prudent to assume the law – any law – will be interpreted in the manner least favorable to you, and that it will be enforced by people who despise you.

      • Concur. This law was written deliberately to make the law as onerous as possible to the average law abiding gun owner.

    • You read it wrong.

      See 3.4 (f)(v) to see how the drafters worded it when the really mean temporary transfers for the duration of the transfer only.

      The section cited above can clearly to firearms that are permanently owned and kept (or consigned) to a “recognized” shooting range.

  10. maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t, follow the course set forth below. but, it must be contemplated.–

    ignore the law. shoot those who try to enforce it. shoot anyone who tries to use the back door to take our guns when the front door is unavailable to them.

    think about it.

    • I believe the WDFW interpretation is correct. Yes, instructors are not necessarily officers, but if you look at the exemption below, we can see that the first exemption is for the entire agency as long as they are acting in the capacity of the agency. Next they exempt LEOs, military, etc. even if they are not on the job.

      (d) Any law enforcement or corrections agency and, to the extent the person is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment or official duties, any law enforcement or corrections officer, United States marshal, member of the armed forces of the United States or the national guard, or federal official;

  11. I have always shared my toys with other club members and often, they share with me. I have never met a felon at my home club. I have got to try some awesome guns that I would have never been able to buy or build. Likewise, some others got to experience my taste in custom guns. Now it seems I might be breaking a law if I share a gun with someone at my own range? Did people really vote for this? Real criminals don’t obey gun laws, hence the label, criminals. Is this just a trap for to persecute gun owners? What is this really about?

    • Yes, people voted for this.
      They didn’t read it.
      They believed the shills for the One Percenters claiming that it was just a closure of the non-existant “gun show loophole.”
      They fell for the “That’s not the intent” and “That’ll never be enforced” lines.
      They got distracted by I591, claiming that it wasn’t necessary, or, even worse (to Threepers), was itself bad law because it mandated a Federal standard for background checks.

      • Don’t forget it also stops the “internet loophole”! Where felons & gun-nuts can buy der guns from the internetz without a background check! ZOMG!!! Stop the insanity! Save the children!

  12. Ken, are you serious? What it’s really about is making it onerous to own firearms.

  13. Kirk, I felt that was the case, I was just hoping I was wrong. This is surreal, it is weird to see so many anti American laws being passed. What a sad time in our history.

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