Washingtonians may not vote on a gun safety measure this fall after all.
A Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the petitions supporters of the measure used to gather signatures "did not comport" with state law, the Seattle Times reports. The judge issued the oral ruling in court Friday. A written ruling will likely be filed today, a court clerk said.
The ruling could stop the measure from appearing on the November ballot, though supporters of the initiative say they plan to appeal.
Initiative 1639 would raise the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and create new background check and training requirements. Prominent wealthy Washingtonians including Paul Allen and Nick Hanauer have donated to support the initiative.
The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation challenged the initiative in late June, arguing supporters' petitions for gathering signatures did not fully explain what the initiative would do and did not include underlines and strike-outs to show changes to existing law.
In a statement Friday, Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said backers of the initiative "acted totally irresponsible in circulating this initiative to the voters and it not only cost them millions of wasted dollars but their credibility as well.”
The group behind I-1639, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, called Friday's decision "stunning."
Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renee Hopkins said the ruling "undermined the rights of the citizens of this state in favor of the interests of the gun lobby."
The group has already filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court, according to the statement.
UPDATE, 2 PM: The Washington Secretary of State has asked the state Supreme Court to rule by August 31 on whether the measure can appear on the ballot. The office needs to print ballots by September 1 in order to reach overseas voters in time for the November election, a spokesperson said. In a statement, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who was named in the lawsuit, thanked the court for ruling in the matter and did not take a position on the initiative.