In 2010 the Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago resulted in incorporation of the 2nd Amendment to individual states under the 14th Amendment as equal protection under the law.
Although less commonly referred to than the Heller decision in the popular lexicon, the McDonald decision no longer allowed gun bans or unconstitutional “gun control” measures to be instituted or excused under the guise of health, safety, state’s rights, or any other logic. The case was brought by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and argued in court by Alan Gura, the same attorney that shepherded the Heller case to victory in 2008. Like Heller, McDonald opened the flood gates to challenges of gun control laws as unconstitutional, applying the same reasoning of the Heller decision to the entire nation.
Voters in Washington State will likely see two initiatives pertaining to guns and gun rights in 2014. The dueling initiatives are as different as the people that divide pro-gun and anti-gun movements. A group formed by local proponents of gun control and Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, named the “Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility” (WAGR) is sponsoring initiative measure 594 (I-594). Their group is now gathering signatures for I-594, an 18 page initiative that would make private transfers and sales of firearms a crime without a NICS background check, expand the state’s current handgun registry, and impose other regulations.
An alternative proposal, I-591, has been proposed by “Protect Our Gun Rights | Yes on 591.” The group “Protect Our Gun Rights | Yes on 591” is comprised of gun rights activists in Washington State. The changes I-591 would make to the current Washington State law is two lines. The first line of the I-591 initiative focuses on the confiscation of firearms. Firearms confiscation without due process has been most notable recently in California, and resulted in subsequent legal action. The second line of I-591 focuses on regulation surrounding “background checks” and “transfers” of firearms.
The operative language of I-591 reads as follows: “It is unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process. It is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”
In aligning the operative language of the initiative with the McDonald decision and 14th Amendment equal protection under the law, the voters of Washington State could eliminate overly restrictive and possibly unconstitutional laws with the stroke of a pen, instead of waiting years or even decades for lengthy and expensive court and legislative battles to end.
The strategy of the gun control movement hasn’t evolved much. Court decisions such as McDonald, Heller, Ezell, and Moore that limit the government in curtailing the constitutionally protected civil right to keep and bear arms haven’t discouraged them in proposing and passing new restrictive laws in many states. Some of these laws are already the subject of lawsuits. It is unclear how many of these lawsuits that aim to preserve Second Amendment Rights will be successful, and how long that could take to transpire.
I-591 has already been endorsed by the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Association, Washington Arms Collectors, Washington State Gun Owners Action League, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Hunters Heritage Council, and the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association.