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.

Recommended for You

This will be the first of many investigative reports about the NRA by Firearms News. 2nd Amendment

Firearms News Investigates the NRA: Part 1

Nedd Scott - July 18, 2019

This will be the first of many investigative reports about the NRA by Firearms News.

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to do nothing but pass more gun control! 2nd Amendment

Virginia Governor Northam Declares War on Gun Owners

Virginia Citizens Defense League - July 09, 2019

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to...

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27. 2nd Amendment

Tell the White House that the 2nd Amendment Was Not Given to the People by Government

Firearms News - July 02, 2019

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

M134 Mini-Gun

M134 Mini-Gun

While filming the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV we had the unique opportunity to fire the M134 Minigun.

New addition to the Browning X-Bolt rifle series

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.

Shooting the 20mm Lahti

Shooting the 20mm Lahti

David Fortier had the chance to fire the Lahti L-39 while filming the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV while on location at DriveTanks.com.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to tactical folders, and many of their models are offered in several different styles. Accessories

Ruger CRKT Knives Review

James Tarr - July 08, 2019

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to...

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27. 2nd Amendment

Tell the White House that the 2nd Amendment Was Not Given to the People by Government

Firearms News - July 02, 2019

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27.

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto retro rifle. Rifles

Brownells BRN-Proto Retro Rifle

Patrick Sweeney - July 02, 2019

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto...

See More Stories

More 2nd Amendment

After one student posted photos on SnapChat of the firearms he and his mother were preparing to pack up for a day, another student anonymously reported him to his principle. 2nd Amendment

Colorado Teen Suspended for Shooting Guns at Range with Mom

Jim Grant - September 05, 2019

After one student posted photos on SnapChat of the firearms he and his mother were preparing...

California District Court Judge James V. Selena recently questioned the validity of the ATF's classification of AR15 lowers as firearms during a recent criminal case. 2nd Amendment

California Judge Questions AR-15 Lower ATF Classification

Jim Grant - October 23, 2019

California District Court Judge James V. Selena recently questioned the validity of the ATF's...

Knives are five times more dangerous than rifles according to latest FBI crime stats. 2nd Amendment

FBI: Knives Are Five Times Deadlier Than Guns

Jim Grant - October 01, 2019

Knives are five times more dangerous than rifles according to latest FBI crime stats.

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.