Despite the work of volunteers at nearly 700 petition gathering locations spread across gun shops, ranges and gun shows in the state, not enough signatures were garnered in time. (Photo: Veto Gunmageddon)
The California group gathering signatures for a set of Hail Mary ballot propositions to repeal seven pending anti-gun laws is throwing in the towel after falling far short of their goal.
Banking on the help of the state’s estimated 13 million gun owners, San Diego businessman Barry Bahrami in July launched the effort by filing paperwork with the California Secretary of State’s office to put six referendums on the ballot in November to repeal a legislative package of gun control measures signed by Gov. Jerry Brown weeks prior. Greenlighted to circulate petitions and with a seventh referendum added, the group set out to gather 450,000 signatures of registered voters on each to satisfy the 365,000 required by law before Sept. 29 to make the ballot.
With the deadline looming and despite brisk activity at some of the 700 signing locations at gun shops and ranges in the state, Bahrami delivered the news Tuesday that they just didn’t have the numbers needed.
“It is with disappointment that I must now report to you it appears we will not obtain the minimum signatures required to get these referenda on the ballot. We had six short weeks to get so many signatures and we all know what an improbable job it was,” said Bahrami in a post to the Veto Gunmageddon social media page.
The most current figures posted by the group showed signatures counted so far ranged from 117,660 signing to repeal SB 1446, a measure to stop the grandfathering of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds; to a high of 133,858 signed on to scrap Sen. Kevin de Leon’s SB 880 which does away with bullet buttons. Though not all signatures have been tallied, organizers conceded that they would not have enough to meet the minimum threshold.
The shoestring effort, which relied on volunteers and donations to raise $50,000 to print petitions, was a stark contrast to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All” gun control initiative, on the ballot as Prop. 63, funded by large donors and the state Democratic Party. Newsom’s group paid a professional signature gathering firm over $1.3 million to manage their petition process.
Bahrami told Guns.com Wednesday that making the announcement as early as possible helps to refocus efforts on the push to defeat Newsom’s referendum.
“We must now defeat proposition 63 just to make a statement that we are relevant and we are coming to take our rights back,” he said. “We saw how little time really hurt us with the referenda and this focus is taking away from the effort needed to defeat Prop 63 in November.”
In the end, says Bahrami, it was all about time, or lack thereof.
“The signatures were there for the taking. We simply could not get them fast enough,” he said. “There were many thousands who came and signed but many more who for one reason or another did not know or care enough to step up and volunteer or even just sign.”
A conservative blogger, currently suing the state over suppression of a “tyrant registry” of anti-gun lawmakers, revealed he had been volunteering for Bahrami’s group and laid the failure at the feet of gun owner apathy for the political process, noting that one county with a population of 500,000 only had six volunteers come forward.
“You’d think protecting your rights, liberty, and property would be enough incentive, but unfortunately it isn’t,” noted the blogger.
The effort did receive some grassroots support from the Second Amendment groups such as the Firearms Policy Coalition, California Rifle and Pistol Association, National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of California, CalGuns and others.
CRPA President Chuck Michel noted that, even though the group did not accomplish their goal, they sent a message.
“Even though this organically driven effort failed to collect enough signature to qualify these veto referendums for the ballot, the grassroots unity and unprecedented gun owner engagement in this effort sent a message that those who believe in the Second Amendment in California are willing to stand and fight back against politicians in Sacramento who seek to remove and restrict our right to choose to own a gun for sport or to defend ourselves and our loved ones,” said Michel in a statement.
What next for the group? Bahrami related that they still need to complete the process and turn in the petitions to the Secretary of State’s office for the record, then it is on to a new effort for which they would have to collect 585,000 signatures in six months — an amendment to the California Constitution to respect the right to bear arms.
“The right constitutional amendment will respect the rights of law abiding citizens while at the same time keep our community safe by preventing violent felons and the mentally ill from possessing dangerous weapons,” said Bahrami. “One single amendment and the years of relentless and unreasonable, downright stupid, laws come to an end while at the same time removing their ability to impose new dangerous laws on us.”