For those unaware, I-1639 was an initiative that was eventually signed into law in Washington state, which is where I live.
It’s a law concerning the sale of AR-15-style and other semi-automatic rifles. And it was written by morons.
Laws of this kind are what happens when you let the totally ignorant legislate on matters of which they know nothing, for reasons they didn’t think through, and for stated intentions that said legislation have very little to do with.
And that, ultimately, is the issue with most gun control laws. Almost every single one is created with the idea of accomplishing something that the law in question could never hope to accomplish in the first place.
I-1639: What Is It, Anyway?
I-1639 was an initiative passed in 2018 regulating the sale and possession of semi-automatic centerfire rifles. Among its provisions are the following:
- The legal age to purchase a semi-automatic centerfire rifle (i.e., modern sporting rifles) was raised from 18 to 21.
- To purchase any of said rifles at all, a person has to take a state-approved safety course covering gun safety, safe storage, and ownership of firearms.
- A mandatory waiting period of 10 days.
The scope of background checks on the purchase of such weapons was also expanded to include checks for warrants in the Washington State Patrol database as well as records in the Washington State Health Care Authority to look for records of adjudication of mental illness, commitments for same and so on.
The law also requires gun owners to report firearms as stolen within 5 days and to store firearms in a safe manner so that they are inaccessible to anyone who wouldn’t otherwise be authorized.
It caused a certain amount of uproar. The law was challenged by the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, but the suit was tossed by a district court and is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A number of county sheriffs also said that they couldn’t enforce it with a good conscience due to the vague provisions of the law. Anyhow, it’s on the books for now, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere.
In anticipation of buying the parts for an AR-15 build, I took the mandatory I-1639 training course.
If you read the actual law by following the link, that’s almost verbatim what the law says. Do the terms “firearm safety” and “safe storage” sound vague to you? That’s because they are.
The training is offered by a number of different entities, including paid in-person, paid online, or in some cases, free online training courses. I opted for the free course offered by the local county sheriff’s office.
Here’s the bulk of the content included in the course.
The 4 Laws Of Gun Safety.
The storage section literally just said to lock guns up when not in use and to store them unloaded.
The section on children? It’s literally -, and I don’t mean different wording; I mean it’s literally the content – the NRA’s Eddie Eagle material.
What’s the takeaway? A gun control law – I-1639 – was passed to ostensibly make people safer. And all it covers is what responsible gun owners know (or should know) anyway. This is clearly a product of people who don’t really know anything about how the world works or worse, don’t give a damn, and just want their ideology forced on everybody.
Bad Gun Laws vs. Gun Laws That Concern Actual Problems
It’s one thing to have a gun control law or whatever you want to call it that concerns an actual problem when it comes to gun crime.
It’s kind of like seat belts. Yes, it’s nanny-stating the citizenry, but objectively they save lives, and fewer corpses is more important than your or my convenience.
Take background checks. Yes, they suck, and it’s a hassle, but almost anyone would agree that not everybody should be able to have guns. One may not like it, but you can’t argue the logic.
Or requiring training for a concealed carry permit. Yes, it’s silly, and the Second Amendment doesn’t say “shall not be infringed if you’ve taken an approved training course.” But, again, almost everyone would agree that it’s a good idea to take driver’s ed BEFORE you get your license, so there’s a logic to it.
It’s another when there are gun laws that have nothing to do with the problems they purport to combat, and that’s what you get when idiots write gun laws and other idiots vote for them.
What was the intent behind I-1639? Mostly to prevent mass shootings and ostensibly to make gun owners a little more responsible.
Granted, most gun violence by volume is a product of poverty in the inner cities, but why do something about that when you can do something about something else that doesn’t seem as hard?
The only problem there is that most mass shootings were carried out with a handgun.
Rifles of any kind…are barely used in criminal activity. Yes, there are high-profile examples, but by the numbers, handguns are far more of a “problem.”
Furthermore, if you look at the past five years of data from The Violence Project about mass shootings, the vast majority of mass shooters in mass shootings that aren’t gang-related are over the age of 21.
The number under 21 in that period? 3. Clearly, mass shootings are not a problem of under-21s buying ARs or AKs.
It’s one thing to pass a gun law that has actually has something to do with gun crime, such as an anti-trafficking law or something to that effect. Washington’s I-1639 – and the gun control proposals currently before Congress – prove that at least part of the body politic is only interesting in disarming people.