Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed House Bill 1143 which, among other things, mandates proof of firearms safety training within the past five years to purchase any gun, an expansion of the requirement included in Initiative 1639 back in 2018 that required proof of training before one could purchase a so-called “semi-automatic assault rifle.”
BULLETIN: Gov. Inslee on Tuesday signed not only HB 1143 but also HB 1240, prompting a federal lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court.
Last year, Oregon voters, by a narrow margin, passed Measure 114 with a similar requirement, but that initiative is now tied up in the courts and has yet to be enacted. In reaction, Beaver State Democrats are now pushing legislation—Engrossed Senate Bill 348—which will require a permit-to-purchase and proof of training in order to buy a firearm.
Translation: Gun purchasers must first offer proof they have taken a safety course before they can buy a gun.
One could argue the safety training requirement is the way Northwest Democrats are attempting to discourage citizens from buying guns, same as the Southern Democrats of the late 1800s and early 1900s tried to discourage minorities from voting.
What’s the difference between such a requirement before exercising your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and passing a “literacy test” before being allowed to vote?
AmmoLand News posed that question to a veteran civil rights attorney. His one-word response: “Nothing.”
Along with other gun control proposals, including a 72-hour waiting period for gun buyers, the legislation “would impact tens of thousands of Oregon gun purchasers, and hundreds of Oregonians have submitted testimony,” according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle.
Late last year, Democrat Inslee told a press conference about his desire to require training in order to get a permit to purchase a firearm.
“You need to get a license to drive a car in the state of Washington,” he stated. “You need to get a license to go fishing. It’s time that you get a license to make sure that you have safety training to purchase a gun in the state of Washington, and it’s high time that we pass a bill to make sure you get a permit before you purchase a firearm.”
According to the new law, “The training must be sponsored by a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, a college or university, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training. The proof of training shall be in the form of a certification that states under the penalty of perjury that the training included the minimum requirements.
“The training may include stories provided by individuals with lived experience in the topics listed in subsection (1)(a) through (g) of this section or an understanding of the legal and social impacts of discharging a firearm.”
Driving is a privilege, and so is recreational fishing, but owning a firearm is a right protected by both the state and federal constitutions. It is a difference that Inslee, who was an attorney prior to becoming a career politician, should recognize even with closed eyes.
In Washington state, the right to bear arms is protected by Article I, Section 24 of the state constitution. The pertinent language says this: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.”
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, matter-of-factly observed that the state requirement for training “seems like an impairment.” Under the U.S. Constitution, it might also be considered an “infringement,” which is prohibited under the Second Amendment. Is it grounds for a federal civil rights lawsuit?
The strategy in Washington is to bypass the state courts because the state Supreme Court does not appear to have a single moderate or conservative on the bench. However, this is the same court that upheld last year the state’s long-standing firearms preemption law when the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association sued the City of Edmonds for trying to enforce a so-called “safe storage” ordinance. The case was known as Bass v. City of Edmonds. It was a smackdown that also effectively nullified a similar ordinance adopted by the City of Seattle about the same time Edmonds passed its requirement, and explains why anti-gun Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell desperately wants the preemption law repealed. Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled Legislature let that proposal die for the umpteenth time.
“Proof of training” does appear to be the kind of thing that begs court challenge. After all, as Gottlieb said, “This isn’t about guns, it’s about rights.”
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