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I-1639 would create some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Will it save lives?

SEATTLE-- Statewide Initiative 1639 would create some of the strongest gun regulations in the county.

It would:

  • Increase the legal age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21-years-old in Washington state.
  • Created enhanced background checks to buy those weapons.
  • Add a 10 day waiting period to purchase a semiautomatic rifle.
  • Require gun owners to safely store their weapons or face criminal charges.

Supporters say this is needed to stop mass shootings. Opponents say it hurts gun owners who are following the law.

One of the people pushing the initiative is Paul Kramer. His son Will survived a shooting at a house party in Mukilteo in July 30th, 2016,

Then-19-year old Allen Ivanov stormed the house with his newly purchased semi-automatic rifle, killing Jacob Long, Anna Bui, and Jordan Ebner. All of the victims were 19 at the time, and all were graduates of Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

“In the midst of the grief, I was feeling from that," Kramer said, "I reflected long and hard about how something like that could happen in our community.”

Increase the legal age to buy a semiautomatic rifle

Now Kramer wants to keep it from happening again. He's the citizen sponsor behind I-1639.

“This initiative is about reducing gun violence and saving lives, and it’s a statement that this is what we value," Kramer said. "That the current level of violence in our culture is not acceptable.”

Already, federal law says you must be 21 to buy a handgun.

“It does not infringe upon your rights at all," said 22-year old Stevphen Paolini, the campaign manager for Yes on 1639. "To make it as least as hard to purchase a semi-automatic rifle ... than it is already to purchase a hand gun.”

Opponents says the initiative criminalizes self-defense.

“It’s extremely aggressive and oppressive for gun rights,” said Alan Gotlieb, the founder of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.

He says if you’re 18 - old enough to vote or serve in the military - you shouldn’t be barred from buying a semi-automatic rifle.

“Is that fair or right?" Gottlieb asked. "No, it’s not. None of that keeps guns out of the hands of criminals. ”

Create enhanced background checks and waiting period to buy semiautomatic rifles.

The initiative would also require more background checks, gun training and a 10-day waiting period to buy a semi-automatic rifle.

Supporters say it will give people in crisis who may commit mass shootings time to pause, before they act out.

“We lose an average of two people a day in our state to gun violence," said CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Renee Hopkins.  "So there is urgency because we’re losing lives every single day.”

Gottlieb is quick to counter.

“This is the fallacy of this," he said. "If somebody is going to go commit an act of a mass shooting, a waiting period isn’t going to keep them from doing it. They’re just going to do it anyway. They’re just going wait another 10 days before they do it.”

Safe storage Laws

The initiative would also create new safe storage laws.

If a gun owner fails to safely secure their weapon and it ends up in the wrong hands and someone is injured or killed, the owner of the weapon could face felony charges of endangering the community.

“There are 3,000 accidental shootings with children every year in the United States of America," Paolini said. "That’s a number that is totally preventable.”

Gottlieb and gun rights supporters say the safe storage laws in the initiative could send responsible gun owners to prison if someone steals their gun and uses it in a crime.

“Someone steals a gun from your home and they misuse it in a crime," Gottlieb said.  "This initiative now holds you criminally liable.”

The voters will have the final say. The election is set for November 6.