All Is Not Well: Antis Win in Washington

All Is Not Well: Antis Win in Washington

vote_no_i-594There was plenty to celebrate in last night's election, what with the (generally) pro-gun Republicans wresting control of the U.S. Senate and extending their control of the House. Republican Larry Hogan defeated anti-gunner Anthony Brown to take the governorship of Maryland, while pro-gun gubernatorial candidates in Arizona and Florida fended off challenges from anti-gunners.


But it's morning now, and time to put away the champagne and contemplate a very bad loss in the state of Washington, where about 60% of voters approved Initiative 594, which mandates a criminal background check for all gun sales. Support for the measure ran to 75% in Seattle.


The fact that Washington gun owners will have to run their private sales through the government is bad, but what is much worse is the manner by which the law was passed.

A campaign heavily funded by billionaires like Paul Allen, Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates lavished more than $10 million to promote the initiative. That was vastly more than a competing measure, 591, that would have prohibited the state from passing any laws stricter than federal law. 


The antis are going to see this as a model for bypassing legislatures, who they see as overly vulnerable to NRA pressure, and appealing directly to "the people" who they think favor their side. They are likely to read too much into the Washington result: referenda in places like California and Massachusetts failed to restrict handgun ownership in the 1970s and '80s, when gun control was a lot more popular than it is today.

The initiative process got started in California as a reaction to the robber baron era when railroad and mining tycoons ruled the state legislature by bribery and intimidation. Initiatives were intended to tilt the balance of power back toward the citizen.

Since then, of course, they have become a racket and one of California's most profitable industries. Every election seems to have dozens of often confusing initiatives up for vote.

We have a small-R republican form of government because pure democracy is just not workable for any unit of government larger than some maple-sugar hamlet in Vermont. Public policy takes engagement and study, and most people have neither the time nor the inclination to consider and evaluate the thousands of decisions that have to be made.

My guess is that most initiative voters in Washington said, "background checks: sounds good." They weren't thinking about how a background check system can lead to registration and then confiscation. The fine points of the Second Amendment are not on their radar. They gave it about three seconds' thought and filled in the circle.

That's the sort of people Mike Bloomberg wants deciding your rights, not politicians who will potentially have to face your wrath. That this initiative succeeded is a very bad thing, and the next one will require better strategy and more funding.

Popular Videos

Hornady's New A-Tip Line of Match Bullets

Hornady Manufacturing, has developed a new line of match bullets. The A-Tip is designed for precision and long-range shooting.

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

New addition to the Browning X-Bolt rifle series

New for 2019 is the Max Long Range model featuring a composite Max stock with fully adjustable comb, spacers for adjusting length of pull, stainless fluted heavy sporter barrel, threaded muzzle brake and extended bolt handle.

See more Popular Videos

More 2nd Amendment

2nd Amendment

How the Gun-Grabbers Grabbed Nevada

Vin Suprynowicz - May 02, 2019

“Californication” is making its way east with the Nevada Assembly Bill 291.

2nd Amendment

FOP Actions of Trump's ATF Pick Belie 'Reverence for 2nd Amendment' Claim

David Codrea - May 29, 2019

The question is what kind of ATF director will Canterbury be, and what can gun owners expect?

2nd Amendment

Ontario, Canada Chief Firearms Officer Comments on AR-15 Buying Surge and Gun Licensing

TheGunBlog.ca - July 16, 2019

Ontario Chief Firearms Officer, Dwight Peer, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca about the Canada-wide...

See More 2nd Amendment

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×