SEATTLE (July 27, 2020) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced the filing of an important amicus brief in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, in the case of Mitchell, et al. v. Atkins, et al. The brief, joined by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), is available online at FPCLegal.org.
Washington State’s 2018 ballot initiative, I-1639, imposed three severe restrictions on semiautomatic rifles: (1) It prohibits adults ages 18-to-21 from purchasing a semiautomatic rifle; (2) It requires law enforcement to conduct an extensive background check and records search on all purchasers of semiautomatic rifles; and (3) It forbids in-person sales of semiautomatic rifles to non-Washington residents.
Several plaintiffs, including individuals, firearm licensees, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleging that all three restrictions violate the Second Amendment. FPC and CCRKBA filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs and their motion for summary judgment, emphasizing that Washington’s restrictions on semiautomatic rifles strike at the core of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, and further, that Washington’s extreme ban on young adults is unprecedented.
Exploring the historical understanding of the Second Amendment’s text, informed by history and tradition, the FPC-CCRKBA brief demonstrates that young adults have the right to keep and bear arms, and therefore, forbidding young adults from acquiring some of the most popular arms in existence is unconstitutional. The brief additionally highlights the fact that constitutional protections extend to technology that was not in existence in the founding era. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communication and the Fourth Amendment protects against modern forms of search, the Second Amendment protects modern arms, such as semiautomatic rifles, as robustly as any other firearm type.
FPC and SAF are litigating many other Second Amendment and gun rights cases throughout the United States challenging age-based restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, bans on so-called “assault weapons,” COVID-19 related restrictions and “shutdown” orders, and other important constitutional issues. For more information on those lawsuits, see FPCLegal.org.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom.
- In 2018, Washington State adopted Initiative Measure No. 1639, severely restricting the possession and acquisition of semiautomatic rifles—some of the most popular weapons in the Nation.
- Specifically, Washington prohibits semiautomatic rifle purchases by young adults and nonresidents, and imposes a severe and intrusive background check requirement for eligible resident purchasers.
- Several plaintiffs who wish to purchase semiautomatic rifles and two organizations sued to challenge the law in a Washington federal district court, alleging that the severe restrictions violate the Second Amendment.
- FPC and CCRKBA filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, emphasizing the severity and unprecedented nature of Washington’s unconstitutional restrictions on the extremely common and popular firearms.