Using the Ballot

Initiative 594 is gaining in Washington State. This would enact a Schumer-style ban on handing a firearm to someone else for purposes of instruction, etc, without a background check. Ace of Spades had a very astute observation on this phenomena, only in this case in the context of Obamacare:

It has long been my contention that it makes no sense to poll questions simply about the “goodies” of Obamacare, like “do you support free health care for the poor or sick.” Everyone’s in favor of that. Including myself.

Yes, I’m in favor of that, and so are all of you – if we do not ask the question in connection with the costs. Of course I’d like everyone to have free health care; in fact, since we’re asking about things I just want, I’d strongly prefer to live in a disease-free world where no one ever gets sick at all.

But questions of policy are only answerable in consideration of the costs. Do I favor a manned mission to Mars? You bet I do. Do I favor such a mission, if it costs $60 billion over ten years? No, I don’t.

And for a polling company to ask the question without asking about my sensitivity to the cost of it, and then to report me as being in favor of it, is misleading and stupid.

You can only gauge someone’s actual support for a policy by informing that person of the likely costs they’ll be forced to bear to have that policy. But for four years, virtually everyone in a position of responsibility sought to hide those costs from the public.

That’s the problem with this issue as well. Polling on background checks amounts to no more than an affirmation that people don’t want criminals to get their hands on guns. But public polling on this issue never speaks of the costs of doing so, such as not being able to engage in firearms instruction in some circumstances, going to jail if you lend a rifle or shotgun to a friend to go hunting or shooting, or being unable to leave guns with a friend if you’re experiencing some kind of personal crisis. I 594 is likely to pass, because like public polling, the ballot question will never explain the costs.

15 Responses to “Using the Ballot”

  1. The article from the Capitol Hill Times makes it sound like the I-591 initiative supporters are way behind. They may be behind in money but it looks like they have the signatures.

    And if we needed another reason to go with the Mac, Bill and Melinda Gates are giving big money to the I-594 initiative.

  2. HappyWarrior6 says:

    I don’t understand this part…

    From here:

    Because both measures are “initiatives to the Legislature,” if enough signatures qualify for I-594 and I-591, lawmakers will have the option of adopting the initiatives during the next legislative session that begins in January. Otherwise the measures would be on the ballot in November 2014.

    Does this mean the initiative still doesn’t get made into law automatically if passed?

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      Okay. The more I read the more confused I am about this kind of ballot initiative. Assuming it passes, it just gets kicked back to the legislature in Nov 2014 if the legislature doesn’t pass it during this session. And what happens then? Quite possibly nothing again? Does it keep coming back every year or what? Any Washingtonians here?

  3. Beatbox says:

    It’s like the Colorado poll. 85pct said yes to “do you support universal background checks?” but 55 pct opposed the laws that were actually passed. If they said, “do you support universal background checks that will act as defectors gun registration” the an response would have been different.

  4. HappyWarrior6 says:

    Seems to me the legislature has the right not to pass a piss poor ballot initiative. Funny, I’ll bet if the ballot initiative issue were banning gay marriage and the legislature decided not to pass it despite its “wide support” (as in CA), gay rights folks would consider it to be the proper role of the legislature to reject.

  5. jerry says:

    I have a hard time getting worked up over issues such as this. If I lived in Washington, or if this was federal legislation that affected us all, I would fight it tooth and nail. This ballot initiative only affects Washington. If they want to screw themselves, be my guest. I am sorry for those of you on here who will have to abide by this if passed.

    • Sebastian says:

      Each state is not a closed ecosystem. Washington has generally been very pro-gun as blue states go. If they turn Washington, then turn other blue states like Oregon, Pennsylvania, etc, how long can it continue before you can’t fight federally.

      Every fight is our fight. We have to fight everywhere. If they succeed in destroying the gun culture in Washington, Colorado, etc, we’re on the path to this being a losing issue, and not being able to turn it around.

      • HappyWarrior6 says:

        I agree. However in this case the legislature also doesn’t have to act on the initiative even if it passes. It still involves the political sausage maker either way.

      • jerry says:

        Well, I suppose one could call Washington pro-gun regardless of the fact that they consistently vote for democrats at the presidential level and currently have two anti-gun senators. I just believe the time to get involved is during federal elections, this seems to me to be an internal matter that will only affect Washington. It will matter more if pro-2A candidates could defeat Murray and Cantwell when they run again. Listen, I hope this thing goes down, I was just wondering if this is something to get worked up over.

  6. Right Wing Wacko says:

    This is the way it works:

    There is no vote initially. It’s an initiative to the legislature.

    I believe this is how it works:

    1. The legislature can pass the initiative as written – No vote of the people needed.
    2. The legislature can pass an alternative bill and the public gets to vote on which one to accept.
    3. The legislature can do nothing and the public gets to vote yes or no.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      What if option 3 happens and the public votes yes and the legislature votes no. Who has the last say?

      • Right Wing Wacko says:

        The public has the last say, and the legislature cannot override them without a super majority for 2 or three years (forgot exactly how long).

  7. According to a blog run by the WA Secretary of State, it looks like the pro-gun I-591 people turned in 100K more signatures than the anti’s.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      Does anyone find it the least bit odd that a Secretary of State has a blog website with a article related to polemics on it? Granted it’s not unfavorable to the gun rights, side but it’s still a little strange. What an odd state.

  8. Jim says:

    A few years ago here in WA they had an initative to register all handguns. Local media reported that it was going to pass and it went down to defeat 75% to 25%. This is a very heavily armed state and people like bill gates hold no sway with the voters.