I am not a fan of the ballot. When there was murmuring about passing that in Pennsylvania, I wrote my reps. I got an unusual phone call back from a staffer of my State Senator, perplexed someone wrote them on this topic and looking for clarification as to my reasoning. My response basically was, “Look at how badly the ballot has screwed up California. It’s not democracy, it’s mob rule; the victor is almost always the side that spends the most money. It’s a great way for monied interests to dupe the people into voting for nonsense legislators would never be foolish or stupid enough to pass.” I was reassured by the staffer that the article I read was not indicative of a serious effort to get the ballot passed in Pennsylvania (which would require a Constitutional Amendment) and that my Senator would be unlikely to support such an effort should it come up. That was before Bloomberg started using the ballot to buy his political preferences.
Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group founded by billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been leading the charge, throwing its financial weight behind three of the four measures. The organization plans to spend $25 million nationwide on the issue, almost as much as the powerful National Rifle Association has spent on television advertising for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
NRA has made the calculation that Trump is a better investment than fighting the ballot initiatives. The collective wisdom of gun fora will certainly declare, if Trump wins and puts desirable people on the Court, that was a brilliant move! If he loses, or screw us, NRA will be the worst gun rights group ever! It’s a tough position. NRA is not capable of outspending Bloomberg in a ballot fight, so fights must be picked carefully. Past ballot initiatives we have won on have been defeated purely through grassroots effort. In both Massachusetts’ handgun ban ballot initiative, and California’s handgun freeze initiative, we were outspend heavily, but we had enough people on the ground who were good organizers to get it done. We’ve seen some of that recently (like the Colorado recall) but not nearly enough. Our people are very good at self-organizing when you hit at the heart of something very important to them (like gun or magazine bans).
What you can expect Bloomberg keep doing is using the ballot to nibble around the edges. It’s an expensive thing to do: so expensive that once more money limited gun control groups realized they couldn’t go big, so they might as well go home. Bloomberg doesn’t seem to mind blowing tens of millions of dollars for incremental, marginal gains. People in Washington State may just have seen a glimpse of what Bloomberg has in store for them next. But I have to wonder if he’ll go for something big like universal registration, or some other real culture breaker. Bans on private transfers will largely be ignored by both the public and the authorities. It’s unfortunate to see Bloomberg win a victory, but it won’t break the culture. It won’t make the activists and hard core gun rights folks leave the states this passed in. At some point, Bloomberg will probably have to go after a culture killing issue to really win, and flip a state into the anti-gun column. Otherwise he’ll spend a decent chunk of his fortune whittling away at the margins. When and where will that move occur? Your guess is as good as mine.
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- SayUncle » Ballots - […] concur with Sebastian here wholeheartedly. We need fewer ways to make law. Not […]