Fewer laws are more controversial than those pertaining to guns.

Given that, any change to gun laws should be very measured, fully debated and carefully crafted to ensure it will truly do what it intends. It must also not be an infringement of Second Amendment rights.

An initiative focusing on guns that is on the Nov. 6 ballot would, according to the ballot title, “require increased background checks, training, age limitation, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semi-automatic assault rifles; criminalize noncompliant storage upon unauthorized use; allow fees; and enact other provisions.”

The scope of that ballot measure, Initiative 1649, is simply too broad.

We urge voters to reject I-1639.

Initiatives are generally a lousy way to write laws. The ballot proposals are written specifically to represent a single point of view. There is no give-and-take of the legislative process. And, as a result, flaws are often discovered once voters make the law.

Unfortunately, to make any changes to an initiative after voter approval it takes a two-thirds majority in the Legislature for the first two years. Lawmakers, however, are usually too timid to tinker with an initiative at any time for fear they will be seen as usurping the will of the people.

Specifically, I-1639 make it illegal for a person under 21 years of age to buy a pistol or semi-automatic assault rifle, and it would prohibit a person between the ages of 18 and 21 from possessing a semi-automatic assault rifle except in the person’s residence or place of business.

Limiting firearms to those who are under 21 seems overly restrictive. Many who are 18 are living on their own and should have the same rights as others.

I-1639 also requires gun owners to keep firearms secured at home. Gun owners could face misdemeanor or felony charges if someone prohibited from possessing a weapon accessed the firearm.

We believe locking up a gun is the right thing to do — and the smart thing to do. However, further discussion is needed when considering charging those who won’t lock up with guns with a felony.

We do see room for debate on all aspects of I-1639. Yet, if it passes there would be zero debate — it’s a take-it-or-leave-it package.

The Seattle Times reports I-1639 would give Washington state some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. The 30-page initiative, according to The Times, “will vault Washington into the vanguard of state gun-restriction laws with Massachusetts, Hawaii and California.”

Again, without securitizing every line of the proposal, enacting such sweeping change is concerning and imprudent.

Voters should vote no on Initiative 1639. Reject state gun-regulation Initiative 1639

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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