UPDATE: After this article was published, Democratic Party lawmakers in Washington state pulled the bill from the state’s legislative tracking website.
The “Orwellian” measure, reported Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, would allow the county sheriff to inspect the homes of owners of so-called “assault weapons” to ensure they’re storing their weapons safely.
A long-time Seattle radio talk-host, Dori Monson of KIRO, commented that whether the Democrat sponsors had no knowledge of the provision, as most claim, or whether they intentionally tried to pass it, Washington voters should be concerned.
“Either way, we have put control of our state in the hands of some really dangerous people,” he said.
While there is fierce debate over whether gun-control laws violate the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, the bill’s home-inspection provision appears to be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches.
The bill’s chief aim is to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons that use detachable ammunition magazines. It would prohibit clips that contain more than 10 rounds.
The provision that has even lawmakers on the left concerned addresses the thousands of semi-automatic weapons already owned by state residents.
Senate Bill 5737 states: “In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”
Failure to comply could result in a year in jail.
Westneat cited the Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal who brought the bill to his attention.
“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder,” said Lance Palmer.
Palmer noted he’s a liberal Democrat who voted for a Republican only once in his life.
“But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover,” he said.
“It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”
A sponsor of the bill, a Seattle Democrat, told Westneat he didn’t know the bill authorized police searches.
“I made a mistake,” Adam Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”
The prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, confessed it’s probably unconstitutional.
“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said.
Murray explained to Westneat he came to realize an assault-weapons ban has little chance of passing this year, so he inserted the provision as “a general statement, as a guiding light of where we need to go.”
Monson said one of his listeners received a reply from another sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jeannie Kohl-Welles, who called the provision “an error in the preparation of the bill.”
She said that if she had known it was in the bill, she wouldn’t have signed on as a sponsor.
“Of course I should have read the bill in its entirety prior to signing onto it; however, I received a briefing on it without mention of the warrantless search language,” the lawmaker said.
New York was the first state to pass strict controls on guns after the Sandy Hook shooting, banning assault weapons and magazines.
But as WND reported yesterday, Democratic lawmakers in gun-friendly Colorado, under pressure from the White House, have proposed a flurry of gun control bills, including one that would hold gun makers and owners responsible for any crimes committed by their weapons.