Thursday, December 4, 2014

Washington State violates the Letter of Initiative 594

EDITED TO ADD:  It would probably have been more accurate to title this post "Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Announces Intent to Violate Letter of Law, Support of One Percenters Endorsement of Selective Enforcement"  But that would have been absurd...

Apparently, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has sent out a letter to Hunters Safety Instructors regarding how Initiative 594 impacts them. Full text is here, Joe has an excerpt describing the way DFW says Hunters Safety classes will be conducted in order to avoid falling afoul of the law at at I-594 fears confirmed | The View From North Central Idaho.

Here's the rub: When I went to read the full text of the DFW's letter at the first link, I saw this:
•  I-594 exempts all law enforcement agencies from the background check/transfer requirement. WDFW, as a general authority Washington law enforcement agency pursuant to RCW 10.93.020(1), is therefore exempt from this requirement.  Any firearms purchase, sale or transfer to or from WDFW or WDFW employees when acting within the scope of their authority, is exempt from the background check/transfer requirement in I-594.
•   The Hunter Education Program is a WDFW program authorized by state law pursuant to RCW 77.32.155(1)(a).  Hunter Education Instructors, when in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program, act on behalf of WDFW, and are therefore exempt from the background check/transfer requirements.  This exemption extends to Hunter Education Instructors whether or not they are actually in the classroom, provided that they are in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program.
Emphasis added; essentially, DFW is claiming that any of their employees are Law Enforcement Officers under the definition of the law. Unfortunately for DFW, Initiative 594 defines Law Enforcement as follows:
Section 2(11) "Law enforcement officer" includes a general authority Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020, or a specially commissioned Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020. "Law enforcement officer" also includes a limited authority Washington peace officer as defined in RCW 10.93.020 if such officer is duly authorized by his or her employer to carry a concealed pistol.
Consulting Section 10.93.020 of the Revised Code of Washington, we learn the following:
 (3) "General authority Washington peace officer" means any full-time, fully compensated and elected, appointed, or employed officer of a general authority Washington law enforcement agency who is commissioned to enforce the criminal laws of the state of Washington generally.
(4) "Limited authority Washington peace officer" means any full-time, fully compensated officer of a limited authority Washington law enforcement agency empowered by that agency to detect or apprehend violators of the laws in some or all of the limited subject areas for which that agency is responsible. A limited authority Washington peace officer may be a specially commissioned Washington peace officer if otherwise qualified for such status under this chapter.
(5) "Specially commissioned Washington peace officer", for the purposes of this chapter, means any officer, whether part-time or full-time, compensated or not, commissioned by a general authority Washington law enforcement agency to enforce some or all of the criminal laws of the state of Washington, who does not qualify under this chapter as a general authority Washington peace officer for that commissioning agency, specifically including reserve peace officers.... A reserve peace officer is an individual who is an officer of a Washington law enforcement agency who does not serve such agency on a full-time basis but who, when called by the agency into active service, is fully commissioned on the same basis as full-time peace officers to enforce the criminal laws of the state.

Again, emphasis added; I don't believe that Hunters Safety Instructors are empowered to enforce any laws. Do they get handcuffs when they are certified? Badge and a gun?

Thing is, this whole POS of a law is full of land mines and traps for the well-meaning honest person, and every time we bring them up, we're told "Oh, don't worry, that's not the intent, no one will ever dream of enforcing that!"

Right.

Here's a fun fact: I-594 defines a "firearm" thus:
(9) "Firearm" means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder.
Tomorrow being my day off, I am going to go to Lowe's and Home Depot and ask about the procedures they have in place to conduct a background check on persons wanting to purchase a powder-actuated  power tool.

Then I'll call some local contractors and ask if their employees provide their own tools, and, if not, what is the procedure they follow to ensure that anyone handling powder-actuated tools on their work sites are authorized to handle them. Any of your employees non-US citizens? Any felony convictions, for, say, drug use?  How about misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence?

Then I'll call a few boating supply stores and pursue the same line of questioning re: flare guns.

13 comments:

jon spencer said...

Don't forget to ask about Paslode airless nailers.
They don't use a blank, but a gas cartridge to fire the nails.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Jon: "an explosive such as gun powder." Yet another wide open to interpretation phrase in 18 pages of them.
-Erik from Seattle

Bill Heissenbuttel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What about model rockets? They use black powder engines to propel the rocket "projectile". Sport motors like the kind you can buy at WalMart or any local hobby store are considered a " Division 1.4" explosive by the DOT. Do I have to have brackground checks done when I take the scouts model rocket launching?
-Scott from La Center

Anonymous said...

Actually Firearm was already defined as i594 is basically a copy and paste of existing RCW with more meaningless crap inserted. i594 did however specifically define "Gun" as the same meaning as firearm. But you are probably correct about "powder" tools.

Darren Decker said...

How about fireworks come new years and the 4th?

Anonymous said...

Darren is right, on July 4th, when you light off a Roman candle, will you have had a background check before buying it?

D.W. Drang said...

Already illegal many, if not most, municipalities in this state.

So, another revenue stream for the tribes...?

Henry Alau said...

Here's another twist. They just defined AS A FIREARM a whole class of guns that, per the ATF, are NOT firearms. Since modern guns use a propellant and not an "explosive", they would not fall under this law. However, black power firearms, which BATFE does NOT define as a firearm (no 4776 or background check required to purchase) would! Kafka would be impressed...

D.W. Drang said...

That was actually the definition of "firearm" under the RCW before I594, not a change. We just never had cause to go and dig into that before.

But, yes, badly written law is badly written.

Anonymous said...

Contacts to the local Home Depot store won't yield much more than a smile and a shrug. However, if some alarmed, law abiding citizens were to inform the Legal Department in Atlanta . . . . Home Depot does NOT like lawsuits!

Leigh M
Portland

Anonymous said...

I'm just an old USN CPO, not a lawyer.
That said, it sounds to me that there is sufficient screw-ups in the bill to get a good outcome with a court challenge.
If I were younger I'd find a Sheriff or Police Department who wants to get some Reserve Officers, then it seems that the law doesn't apply...

D.W. Drang said...

Sorry, Chief, the only LEO exemption in 594 is for officers on duty, with agency-issued firearms.