Former congressional candidate Jered Bonneau has taken on a new campaign, trying to get President Donald Trump to “step in and abolish” a Washington initiative approved last week by the state’s voters.
Bonneau created a petition on the White House website “We the People” seeking signatures to help overturn I-1639, which puts new restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic rifles and requires that firearms be safely stored in homes.
A spokeswoman for the Yes on I-1639 campaign said she hadn’t heard about Bonneau’s petition before being contacted by The Spokesman-Review and couldn’t respond in depth.
“The initiative is a state law, so this challenge really doesn’t seem to make sense on our part,” Kristen Ellingboe said. The sponsors of the initiative will consult with attorneys “if it turns into something.”
Although an estimated 123,000 ballots remain to be counted across the state, I-1639 has clearly passed with 60 percent of the votes tallied to date and a margin larger than the remainder. It passed in most counties surrounding Puget Sound, but also in Spokane, Whitman and Clark.
Bonneau’s petition on the website contends the measure passed “through fraudulent petitioning and tricky wording” to create one of the strictest “anti-gun” laws in the country.
“We the People therefor ask our great President and our public servants, step in and abolish such laws restricting, infringing upon and/or otherwise limiting our right, that has been guaranteed to us under the 2nd amendment to the Bill of Rights and further protected and solidified through centuries of bloodshed and legal proceedings,” it says.
Created Tuesday, it had collected 4,300 signatures by that afternoon. It needs 100,000 by Dec. 13 to get a response from the White House.
As a Republican candidate for Congress, Bonneau contended he would be more supportive of the Second Amendment than incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. In April, he appeared at a gun-owners rally that was part of the national March for Our Rights with a Romanian-made AK-47 slung on his shoulder and told the crowd gathered on the Capitol steps, “We don’t need more gun control, we need more freedom.”
He got 2.2 percent of the vote in the five-person primary.
During the campaign, Bonneau described himself as someone who would strictly adhere to the U.S. Constitution. But the Constitution does not give a president any power to abolish a state law, whether it has been passed by initiative or the Legislature. Questions surrounding a law’s constitutionality are ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court if the challenge involves the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or the Washington Supreme Court if it involves the Section 24 Right to Bear Arms of the state Constitution’s Declaration of Rights.
Members of gun-rights groups opposing I-1639 have said it violates both provisions.
They filed lawsuits aimed at keeping it off the ballot because of questions over the way the full text of the proposal was printed on the back of petitions that voters signed. The state Supreme Court ruled the questions were not enough to keep I-1639 off the ballot, and opponents left open the possibility of a new lawsuit if it passed.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.