Don’t let the election distract you from these anti-gun ballots

If you’re like me, the 2016 election has you wishing to take your pick of the one-way trips to Mars in the hope that the next American president has too many budget squabbles with Congress to meddle in the goings on of the Red Planet.  But the lack of good choices offered by the major parties is no reason to stay home on the 8th of November.

It’s clear from the polls that Hillary Clinton will win the race for the presidency.  As unpleasant a sentence as that was to write, there’s no point in denying reality.  The Senate is up for grabs, with current projections expecting fifty Republicans, forty-eight Democrats, and two independents, Angus King and Bernie Sanders, who caucus with the Democrats.  That would leave control of the upper chamber to the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, Tim Kaine.  The House of Representatives, by contrast, will remain in Republican control, as will three-fifths of the state governor’s mansions.  This all means that regarding some races, voters can make a real difference, while the House and states will continue to be a brake on Clinton’s dreams of gun grabbing.

But our democracy isn’t limited to selecting representatives for offices.  Most states also have some provision for ballot initiatives, brought forth—at least in theory—by the voters themselves, while others require submitting the measure to the legislature for approval first.

This year, there are four ballot initiatives that relate to guns—three to expand background checks and one that would allow courts to forbid guns to people placed under an “extreme risk protective order.

The latter example is in Washington State, following on the 2014 measure that required background checks on nearly all private transfers of firearms.  This year’s initiative “would prevent a person from possessing or accessing firearms” who is declared under oath by the police or members of the person’s household as being a “significant danger” to self or others.  The order would last a year and could be challenged in court.

The NRA opposes this measure, but as gun control goes, this actually fulfills the definition of sensible that so many other proposals fail.  My objection to the no-fly list, for example, is that there is no clear oversight or due process for people who are accused.  An improvement to the Washington measure might be to add a penalty for false reporting, though given the requirement of testifying under oath, that really is already covered.

The other measures are typical for gun control.  In Maine and Nevada, voters will decide on a requirement similar to Washington’s of 2014, namely requiring background checks between private parties for gun transfers.  Unsurprisingly, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety is one of the primary supporters of both initiatives.  The exceptions in each are transfers between family members or during temporary situations such as hunting or at a range.  But as always, what is on display here is the desire of gun control advocates to know who owns what guns.

California’s measure is worse.  Voting “yes” expresses support for “prohibiting the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.”  And there’s more in the details, banning residents of California from buying ammunition out of state, among other things.  Those who own currently legal standard capacity magazines—ones that were owned before the 2000 ban—would be made illegal if the initiative passes.  Support for the measure is currently around sixty-seven percent.

The bottom line of all of this is that we who value gun rights need to have a multilayered approach to protecting their exercise, one that acts on all levels, local, state, and federal.  We’ve been given two good rulings by the Supreme Court, Heller and McDonald, but those aren’t enough for us to relax.  The presidential election gets lots of attention, and that’s something that can be exploited if we’re not paying attention down the ballot.  We have to express our choices in all races and then with the politicians who represent us.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

Latest Reviews

revolver barrel loading graphic