Judge tosses 300,000 signatures, yanking gun initiative from November ballot

SEATTLE -- A Thurston County judge has thrown out more than 300,000 signatures to put a gun-control initiative on the November ballot.

Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the signature petitions for Initiative 1639 did not "comport" with state law. He ordered the secretary of state's office to stop certification of the ballot measure.

The National Rifle Association and Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation had filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, claiming the petitions didn't follow the law by clearly identifying what would change in the statute.

They also said the font was too small to be readable.

“The National Rifle Association is glad to see the court today recognized how negligent, if not worse, gun control advocates were in their signature-gathering for this ill-advised ballot initiative,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “We got involved because I-1639 tramples on the rights of Washington state voters, and because the way these anti-gun activists went about pushing their agenda was egregious. We applaud this decision, and will remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Americans.”

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility has filed a notice of appeal with the Washington Supreme Court.

The Yes on I-1639 campaign responded with the following statement:

“This decision is frankly shocking. The right of Washingtonians to make changes to our laws via initiative has been part of our state’s history for more than 100 years and is fundamental to the Washington we know today,” said Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renee Hopkins. “Today’s decision tossed out the signatures of more than 378,000 voters, and undermined the rights of the citizens of this state in favor of the interests of the gun lobby. It’s not right, and we will continue to fight."

“Washingtonians already made it clear that they want stronger gun laws,” said Initiative 1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities Campaign Manager Stephen Paolini. “That’s why hundreds of thousands of people signed Initiative 1639. Those voters deserve the opportunity to vote on a measure they support. It’s disappointing and unacceptable that the court would ignore the obvious and clear interests and desires of Washingtonians to keep their schools and communities safe.”

The measure would raise the age for the purchase of a semi-automatic rifle to 21 and require more extensive background checks for handgun purchases.