I-594 is bearing fruit: The legal nightmare of Hunter Education class in Washington State

Remember this from class? How to safely go over an obstacle?

hunter ed

Thanks to Moms and Bloomberg, this simple act of teaching safety went from what is pictured above to the following:

From the Washington Hunting Forum:

State of Washington
DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Mailing Address:  600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1091 • (360) 902-2200 • TDD (360) 902-2207
Main Office Location: Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA

December 2, 2014

M E M O

To:      Hunter Education Instructors

From:      David Whipple, Hunter Education Division Manager

SUBJECT:   ANALYSIS OF INITIATIVE 594

Dear Instructors,

During the November election, the voters enacted Initiative 594, concerning background checks on firearm sales and transfers.  I-594 becomes effective on December 4, 2014.  The Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in close consultation with our legal counsel in the Attorney General’s Office, has assessed the potential effects of I-594 on the Hunter Education Program, our instructors, and our prospective students.  We do not believe that I-594 will significantly affect the program.

I will briefly summarize our analysis below.  More detail will follow in the next few days.
•   I-594 requires that all firearms sales or transfers in Washington be subject to background checks and be made through licensed dealers, unless specifically exempted.
•   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.  (Firearms transfers by Hunter Education Instructors that are not for the purpose of the Hunter Education Program and within the scope of their authority as WDFW volunteers, are not entitled to this exemption.)
•   Transfers of firearms between 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) and sports clubs, gun clubs, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also exempt from the background check/transfer requirements.
•   Transfers of firearms between Hunter Education Instructors and Hunter Education students are also exempt from the background check/transfer requirements of I-594, when the Hunter Education Instructors are in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program.  Again, this is because the firearm transfer is to or from Hunter Education Instructors acting on behalf of WDFW, a law enforcement agency.
•   I-594 contains limited specific exemptions for certain temporary transfers of firearms kept at shooting ranges and temporary transfers of firearms to persons under the eighteen for educational purposes.  Although Hunter Education instruction is an educational purpose and may occur at a shooting range, these two exemptions do not limit or override the broader background check exemption applicable to law enforcement agencies. Therefore, within the constraints described above, transfers of firearms between volunteer Hunter Education Instructors and students are exempt by virtue of WDFW being a law enforcement agency, regardless of the age of the student, and regardless of whether the firearm is removed from a shooting range.
•   Although we are still evaluating I-594, it does not initially appear that student-to-student transfers of firearms would fall within the general WDFW exemption for law enforcement agencies.  For students under eighteen, however, temporary firearms transfers for educational purposes are exempt if the student is under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult (such as a Hunter Education Instructor) who may lawfully possess firearms.   Students eighteen and older are not entitled to this exemption.  However, regardless of the age of the person, temporary transfers that occur at an established, authorized shooting range are also exempt, if the transfer occurs, and the firearm is kept at all times, at the range.  If adult student-to-student transfers are not exempt, then adult students may, without triggering I-594’s background check/transfer requirements—
   Use inert firearms or air rifles (which do not meet the definition of a firearm); or
   Hand their functional firearms to an instructor who then hands it to the other student.

In summary, the transfer/background check exemption I- 594 applies to the following transfers of firearms to or from WDFW Hunter Education Instructors while in formal volunteer status for WDFW and acting within the scope of their authority for purposes of the Hunter Education Program:
•   Between WDFW employees and Hunter Education Instructors
•   From one Hunter Education Instructor to another Hunter Education Instructor
•   Between Hunter Education Instructors and NGOs
•   Between Hunter Education Instructors and students

Additionally, student-to-student transfers may also be exempt under the circumstances and for the reasons described above.   Where such transfers are not exempt, we believe that minimal changes to classroom procedures will avoid conflicts with I-594.   

Because nothing attracts more gangbangers and dangerous felons than a good Hunter Safety class.

Hat Tip to Jay H.

3 Replies to “I-594 is bearing fruit: The legal nightmare of Hunter Education class in Washington State”

  1. I hope people start to recognize that this is a feature of this law. They want to make it harder to spread our culture. They want to shame us. We need to use this against them.




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  2. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says its volunteer hunter education instructors are essentially law enforcement officers when holding classes.

    I-594, however, defines law enforcement officers as “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.”

    WDFW’s instructors don’t carry badges, nor guns, nor possess any authority to make arrests or investigate crimes. They are not law enforcement officers according to Washington State Law, and just because WDFW suddenly claims they are doesn’t make it so.




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