Military and Police

NRA Wins Lawsuit: Initiative 1639 Will Not Appear on November Ballot in Washington State

The wheels of justice can turn excruciatingly slowly. But sometimes they spin so fast you can’t keep up. Such is the case with this unexpected, but happy, update to an article I wrote on the topic that recently appeared in OpsLens.

While Washington State’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) felt unsure about challenging flawed Initiative I-1639, the NRA harbored no similar vacillation. The Second Amendment Foundation had no luck at the Washington Supreme Court, told they had no standing. However, the NRA had success suing in a lower court.

NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox reported that the Thurston County Superior Court ruled for the NRA in its suit to prevent the anti-gun citizen’s Initiative I-1639 from appearing on the November ballot (full disclosure: I am an NRA life member). The suit alleged several issues that should disqualify I-1639.

If passed the Initiative would have created a state government registry of legal gun owners and established a state standard for gun owners to “properly” store firearms. This one-size-fits-all approach fails to consider many legitimate concerns of gun owners.

For example, will the state consider every stolen gun “improperly stored”? If so, gun owners are right to fear the criminal liability I-1639 would have imposed, which included a $10,000 fine. Imagine creating a law that fines a crime victim. And yet the left tells us they fear immigration laws because they prevent illegal aliens from cooperating with law enforcement. I guess the left has no similar concerns for American crime victims.

As another practical matter, to secure a firearm in such a fashion where it would be impossible to steal (what, like in an underground vault, sealed within a concrete bunker?) also would make the gun useless for its intended purpose—defending your family and yourself.

Again, if everyone agrees a human being has a right to self-defense, what sense does it make to infringe on a person being able to acquire the best, most practical means to that defense? If small arms weren’t the best method of personal defense, governments wouldn’t issue them to war fighters and cops.

The judge agreed with the NRA and issued a writ of mandamus. According to the law dictionary at, this is “A writ or order that is issued from a court of superior jurisdiction that commands an inferior tribunal, corporation, Municipal Corporation, or individual to perform, or refrain from performing, a particular act, the performance or omission of which is required by law as an obligation.”

Like the rest of us who saw that the Initiative sponsors had violated the rules for qualifying, the judge agreed. The NRA’s Cox issued the following statement:

“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. 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.”

While one of the initiative’s flaws was exceeding the one-subject rule, what Initiative I-1639 would have done to law-abiding gun owners would have abused the voters of Washington State by compromising the integrity of the citizen’s initiative process.

I hope Secretary of State Kim Wyman reviews the court decision and acts accordingly. She doesn’t have to join with the NRA in the partisan rhetoric, but the influence of her office in assuring the initiative process remains one secured with integrity, so the voters can trust it, would be crucial.

The NRA expects I-1639 sponsors to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. The venerable gun rights organization assures its members in the Evergreen State that it will “continue to advocate on behalf of our law-abiding members.”

I don’t know about you, but I find this comforting. I can’t imagine the state of the Second Amendment if there were no NRA.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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