So Falls the West… I-1639 Passes in Washington

By a 20 point margin the State of Washington voted in new gun control measures for its citizenry. The passed measure will pull Washington into line with the rest of the coast as gun control heavy.

Initiative – 1639 implements new restrictions, fees, waiting periods, and paperwork on the purchase and ownership of firearms. All of this done in the name of allegedly increasing the public welfare through safer streets and preventing mad men from grabbing guns.

These restrictions include waiting periods for purchasing semiautomatic assault rifles―as defined by the initiative—as well as increasing the minimum age to buy semiautomatic assault rifles to 21.

The measure would establish requirements for storage of all firearms. Section 13 of the measure, which would establish age requirements, was designed to take effect on January 1, 2019. The rest of the measure’s provisions would take effect on July 1, 2019.[2] [3]

Defining Semi Automatic Assault Rifle

Any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.

“Semiautomatic assault rifle” does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.

“Universal” Background Check, Waiting Period, and Fee

Under the measure, no dealer will deliver a semiautomatic assault rifle to a purchaser until:

  • The purchaser provides proof that they have completed a recognized firearm safety training program in the last five years including instruction on basic firearm safety, secure gun storage, the safety of children and firearms, suicide prevention, safe handling, and state and federal firearm law; and
  • The dealer is notified in writing by the chief of police or sheriff in the jurisdiction of the purchaser’s residence that the purchaser is eligible to own a firearm and that the application to purchase is approved. Under the measure, the chief of police or sheriff must use the national instant criminal background check system established under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and other databases and information centers to determine whether a person is eligible to possess a firearm.[2]

They are using the same systems already in place for dealers to check on purchaser legality but adding an onerous paper trail.

Codified in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) regarding pistols already, this measure expands the law to include all firearms and semiautomatic assault rifles as well.[2]

  • If an applicant has an outstanding warrant for their arrest from any court for a felony or misdemeanor, a dealer must hold the delivery of pistols and semiautomatic assault rifles until the warrant is served and satisfied by a court appearance.
  • If a police chief or sheriff has reasonable grounds based on open criminal charges, pending criminal proceedings, or outstanding warrants, and if the records have not been reported or entered sufficiently to determine whether or not the person is eligible to purchase a firearm, the local jurisdiction or state may hold the sale and delivery of a firearm for up to thirty (30) days to verify records.
  • An applicant for the purchase of a firearm must sign and deliver an application to the dealer which includes the applicant’s name, address, date of birth, race, gender, driver’s license number or state ID number, a description of the firearm and manufacturer’s number.

The application to purchase a firearm would, under the measure, be required to include the following warning:[2]

CAUTION: The presence of a firearm in the home has been associated with an increased risk of death to self and others, including an increased risk of suicide, death during domestic violence incidents, and unintentional deaths to children and others.[4]

In the Revised Code of Washington, a signed application to purchase a pistol constitutes a waiver of confidentiality so that any inquiring court or law enforcement agency may request a mental health institution or other health care facility to release information relevant to a person’s eligibility to purchase a pistol. The measure expands this provision to include the application for and purchase of semiautomatic assault rifles.[2]

The Fee associated with this will be an additional $25.00 at the point of sale. The waiting period will be 10 days beyond the date of application for purchase.

Firearm Storage

Under the measure, a person who leaves a firearm in a place where a prohibited person (someone who is prohibited from firearm possession under state or federal law) could potentially gain access to the firearm would be guilty of community endangerment, a class C felony, if a prohibited person gained access to the firearm.

Additionally, every place where firearms are sold would be required to display the following sign, in block letters (capitalized) and at least one inch in height.[2] Under the measure, violators will be guilty of a class 1 civil infraction and could have been fined up to $250.


21 and Up Only

Under the measure, a person under 21 years of age is not be able to purchase a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle. Persons between the ages of 18-21 are only able to possess a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle under the following conditions:[2]

  • in the person’s residence,
  • in the person’s fixed place of business,
  • on real property under the person’s control,
  • or for the specific purpose of moving to a new place of residence, traveling to and from the allowed locations, and selling or transferring the firearm in accordance with other provisions.


Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.