Supreme Court says gun control measure can appear on November ballot

After a tumultuous few weeks in court, a gun control initiative will appear on the November ballot after all.

More than 350,000 signatures collected for Initiative 1639 were thrown out by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon on Aug. 17, as the format on the petition wasn't up to par: The font size was too small and the text of the initiative was missing strikethroughs and underlines to highlight the changes to state law.

But the Washington State Supreme Court reversed that decision, ruling on Aug. 24 that state law doesn't require Secretary of State Kim Wyman to keep the measure off of the ballot due to formatting issues.

"This clears the way for our preparations to put I-1639 before voters in time for ballots to be printed," Secretary Wyman says in a news release. "My priority is protecting Washington citizens' right to make informed use of our state constitution's initiative process."

The measure would raise the legal purchase age on semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, matching rules on handguns, expand background checks, institute a 10-day waiting period on semi-automatic rifle purchases and require a safety course. It also would change the name of semi-automatic rifles under state definition to "semi-automatic assault rifle," excluding antique rifles and those "manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action."

Additionally, the measure would create punishments for gun owners who don't use safe gun storage if their weapon is used to harm someone.

If passed, the formatting or wording issues could again be challenged in court.

Historic Monument Dedication: Walter Lawson @ Greenwood Memorial Terrace

Fri., Aug. 7, 2 p.m.
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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...