Getting Closer to a Ballot Fight in Washington

Gun control supporters in Washington State are about 70 of the way to their goal of getting a background check measure on the ballot. The ballot measure, Initiative 594, can be found here. The vast majority of people who will vote on it, one way or another, will never read it. That is the idea. What will appear on the ballot won’t include the details. Again, this bill would make it a crime to teach someone to shoot, because it criminalizes any temporary transfer not “necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm.” They are essentially trying to get Schumer’s background check bill passed in Washington State on the sly, by hiding it behind a ballot measure that will tell voters exactly none of those little details and gotchas. The details of Schumer’s proposal and Washington’s Initiative 594 are similar, but the essence is the same. Temporary transfer is criminalized except through narrow exceptions. It will cost a great deal of money to try to educate enough gun owners as to what this ballot measure really does, and to whip up opposition. But Bloomberg is smart to fight on these grounds. Every gun owner in Washington is going to get to get involved if we’re going to have a prayer of defeating this.

13 thoughts on “Getting Closer to a Ballot Fight in Washington”

  1. This is more about the handling of ballot measures than about this specific issue, but, while you can’t hold people down and make them read anything, I liked the way in California every voter would be mailed a booklet explaining the impact of ballot initiatives, with pro- and con- input provided by supporters and opponents of the measure.

    This measure surely cannot prosper in Washington, with SAF and CCRKBA being around — can it?

  2. Unfortunately like you said, people aren’t going to read it, and they will be utterly shocked when they discover they voted to outlaw target shooting with their friends on public lands (as is extremely popular out west) and that it’s effectively impossible to borrow your friend’s shotgun/rifle for hunting.

    1. Steve: a coalition of organizations is opposing this measure and putting up an alternative: Initiative 591, which is simple and requires background checks to be conducted in accordance with a uniform national standard (as is the case right now with NICS).

      This coalition includes CCRKBA, Washington Arms Collectors, Hunters Heritage Council and (importantly) the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. You can read up on this battle in my Gun Rights Examiner columns.

      1. Just to be clear: Is Initiative 591 also a “universal background check” bill?

        1. If both initiatives make the ballot — yes, people can vote on both. If both pass, it’ll (eventually) end up in the State Supreme Court, which is not a conservative bench in most regards.

          That’s why many people do not support I-591; it’s badly timed. Also, the wording of I-591 is flawed, as it bows to Federal authority on setting 2nd Amendment rights.

          At the same time, the initiative process in Washington requires that all of them go through the State Legislature, who can act on them or put them on the ballot. Similar legislation was proposed in the House last year, and eventually died in committee, after serious debate, and huge voter input. FYI, the House is Democrat, and the Senate is (barely) Republican.

          And you might recognize our esteemed Governor Inslee — he played a major role in getting Clinton’s AWB passed in 1994. Which cost him his Congressional seat in (conservative) Eastern Washington; he moved to (liberal) Western Washington, and won more terms in the US House there.

          What makes this a real pain is that the I-591 and I-594 sponsors are using the same company to collect their signatures. The gatherers will have I-591 on one side of the clipboard, and I-594 on the other. And they don’t care which is which.

  3. I found the proposal.

    “NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 9.41 RCW to read as follows:
    It is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm
    unless a uniform national standard is required. ”

    It seems to… do nothing. Unless DC enacts UBCs at the federal level, in which case I guess section 2 would kick in.

    I guess the “baffle them with bullshit” strategy can work both ways, although we are giving up the rhetorical high ground of opposing background checks altogether. Then again in a blue state like Washington (yes, I know the East is way different, but Seattle and environs owns the state) maybe it is better to baffle them with bullshit than the stand on principle and lose. You’re not going to get a state like WA to pass a Firearms Freedom Act or anything similar.

  4. Paid Signature gatherers have been soliciting signatures for both initiatives at the same time. It has been rumored that the anti-gun gathers are collecting for both and throwing the petitions for 591 away, in hopes of keeping it off the ballot.

  5. Yeah, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re screwed. King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties have enough blue voters to pass this crap by themselves, and this sounds just dandy to them.

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