Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office confirmed yesterday to the Seattle P-I.com that the 17-page gun control measure, Initiative 594, has qualified for the November ballot while signatures are still being counted on Initiative 591, and hearings on both are scheduled next Tuesday and Wednesday in Olympia.
The hearings will occur before the House Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and before the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Wednesday, also at 1:30 p.m., suggesting that I-591 will also easily qualify, as there have been indications from its sponsors that it garnered even more signatures than the 346,834 confirmed for I-594. Bellevue's Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, will testify at both hearings.
I-594 is ostensibly aimed at requiring so-called “universal background checks” on all gun sales in the state, and the timing for these hearings is interesting, considering that a YouTube video has just surfaced, apparently recorded earlier this week, featuring anti-gun Oregon State Sen. Ginny Burdick appearing to acknowledge that universal background checks “won’t stop gun violence,” to which she quickly adds, “but it will help.”
Whether the Legislature takes any action on either measure is doubtful. It is an election year, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will be reluctant to step into the gun control morass because the subject is politically toxic.
Turnout for both hearings is expected to be heavy, and no doubt there will be overflow rooms available in which people can watch the discussion on television monitors.
MEANWHILE, there appears to be something of a revolt in progress by handgun manufacturers Sturm, Ruger and Smith & Wesson against the State of California’s microstamping requirement.
Ruger has issued the following statement: “Ruger is committed to its customers in California. Unfortunately, the ill-conceived law requiring the incorporation of microstamping technology into semi-automatic pistols is forcing Ruger pistols off the Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale in California. We are working hard to serve our customers in California and will do all we can to fight this draconian law. We continue to submit pistols to the independent test lab for testing and those pistols meet all the requirements of California in effect when the pistols first appeared on the Roster, i.e., everything except microstamping. We have been informed by the lab that the CA DOJ will not even consider these “new” pistols for inclusion on the Roster unless they satisfy the microstamping regulations, which numerous studies have found unworkable. Until microstamping is repealed, we expect that Ruger pistols – some of the safest available – will continue to be forced off the Roster.”
Reports today in the Washington Times and other news agencies are quoting a statement from S&W President and CEO James Debney: “As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the NRA and the NSSF to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations.”
Ironically, it was just last August that S&W announced its five-year contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for – you guessed it – the M&P9 pistol.
In its statement, S&W also noted, “This is not a problem unique to Smith & Wesson. The microstamping legislation and California’s position regarding performance enhancements and other improvements creates the same challenge for all firearm manufacturers, since presumably all of them refine and improve their products over time.”