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NRA sues Washington state over ballot initiative raising minimum age for guns

November 19, 2018

The National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment supporters are suing the state of Washington to stall a ballot initiative passed this month to limit gun sales, after gun control advocates declared victory in the 2018 midterm elections.

The initiative, which was approved with 59 percent of the vote, increases to 21 the minimum age for purchasing semiautomatic rifles, among other changes.

The NRA says those are infringements on constitutional rights, and gun-rights advocates say the election was swayed by activist billionaires.

“We will not sit idly by while elitist anti-gun activists attempt to deny everyday Americans their fundamental right to self-defense,” said Chris W. Cox, who heads the NRA’s legislative lobbying arm.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said gun-rights advocates were disappointed that residents got “fooled” into supporting the scheme.

“While a handful of billionaires spending millions of dollars were able to buy votes, it is our hope they can’t buy the judges,” he said. “We’re determined to fight this egregious measure because constitutionally-protected rights should never be subject to a popularity vote.”

Safe Schools Safe Communities, a political group that supported the measure, pulled in about $5.5 million in contributions during the 2018 campaign.

That total includes $1.2 million from the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and about $500,000 from the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, an arm of the gun control group co-founded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York.

The NRA and other gun-rights groups spent about $600,000 to oppose the measure.

It was approved, 59 percent to 41 percent.

Other parts of the initiative include requiring people who buy semiautomatic weapons to take a safety training course, undergo an enhanced background check and face a 10-day waiting period.

The measure also creates new storage laws that could make gun owners liable if a child or someone barred from having a gun uses their weapons to hurt someone or commit a crime.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he wasn’t surprised that gun-rights backers filed a lawsuit, but he said he’s eager to defend the state against the NRA.

“The gun lobby is trying to thwart the will of nearly 60 percent of Washingtonian voters who supported common sense gun reform in our state,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times.

Mr. Ferguson already is leading a lawsuit attempting to limit distribution of plans for 3D-printed firearms.

So far he has prevailed in the federal court.

Washington voters’ approval of the ballot initiative was a bright spot for gun-rights activists, who had been intent on seeing some political advances in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which supported the measure, said the NRA is trying to undermine the will of the people in Washington and across the country.

“They know they cannot defeat popular gun violence prevention measures on the ballot, so they try to use the courts,” said CEO Renee Hopkins.

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