Washington State Ballot Initiative Could Turn Gun Owners Into Criminals

posted on July 24, 2015

Buying and selling pistols with ivory grips in Washington state could be outlawed if voters pass I-1401 on Nov. 3. This veiled effort to criminalize firearms owners was funded by longtime anti-gunner and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, most recently in the news for his purchase of a Nazi tank

The implications are troubling. First, there is no “grandfather” clause—meaning that even if the ivory in your grips was harvested legally when elephants were more abundant, you could still be charged with Unlawful Trafficking in Species Threatened with Extinction. An exemption exists for antiques, but the burden of proof is on the owner, and detailed documentation is required. Finally, many musical instruments are exempt, but the language includes no similar allowance for firearms owners. As they’re both already-existing products, they’re equally unlikely to contribute to poaching—but anti-gunners like Allen would be remiss to turn down an opportunity to criminalize legal gun ownership.

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