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Proposal for NRA license plate has opponents up in arms

A lawmaker's proposal to allow Washington state to issue a National Rifle Association special license plate has some critics up in arms.

According to The Seattle Times, state Rep. Dean Takko is sponsoring a bill to create an “NRA license plate,” with proceeds from the sale going to support hunter firearm safety and education.

"As a hunter out in the woods, I want people to be safe," Takko, a Democrat from Longview who has been an NRA member for more than 20 years, told the Times.

Judging from online comments in response to the Times’ story, the proposal faces considerable public backlash.

“All the special design plates have to do with memorializing certain professions, are related to peaceful activities, or related to protecting the environment. The state should not allow an organization that promotes tools of death to freely advertise on state issued license plates,” wrote one reader from Seattle. “If they want to have a hunter safety plate then they should find an organization that promotes hunter safety not an organization that promotes people being able to own and carry military assault rifles.”

“Bad idea. Regardless of how anyone feels about the NRA, putting any political lobbying organization that is so polarizing for so many on plates is a bad precedent,” wrote another reader from Seattle. “The slippery slope is apparent. ACLU plates? Family Research Council plates? Where is the line?”

But Dave Workman, senior editor of thegunmag.com, a publication of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation,   said many people don’t understand the bill’s intent.

"The opponents I think are reacting to the fact that the letters ‘N-R-A’ are connected to this measure,” he told msnbc.com. “I don’t think they looked much beyond that.”

The special plates would raise more money for hunter education and firearm safety programs run by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“There’s a misperception among some of the opponents that the NRA is simply going to benefit somehow financially from this. That’s not true at all,” Workman said.

Workman acknowledged that the bill faces an uncertain future. He said it’s possible the legislation “would be much more well received” by the public if it were just a generic Second Amendment-type of bill and not linked directly to the NRA.

The Washington Department of Licensing currently offers 47 different special license plates, according to the Times. They cost up to $45 in addition to standard licensing fees.

Some states, including neighboring Idaho, already offer customized National Rifle Association plates.

Msnbc.com's James Eng contributed to this report.

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