With midterm elections only a couple weeks away… actually, scratch that, more than a million Americans have already cast their midterm ballots. In fact, I received my Washington State absentee ballot in the mail yesterday (Oct 16th). For fellow Washingtonians, I’d like to express my concerns with I-594 as well as mention its most glaring issues in the hope that you will pass along the good word. For the rest of y’all, let’s discuss NSSF‘s #GUNVOTE campaign.
At its core, #GUNVOTE is pretty simple. It’s encouraging you to be a single-issue voter on the subject of Second Amendment rights. To assist with this, the NRA has completed its usual grading of politicians who will be appearing on midterm ballots, and has put all of this information on a really handy website.
I believe a politician’s stance on the 2nd Amendment is an extremely strong indicator of where he or she is likely to stand on a massive range of topics and philosophies. Possibly more so than any other single stance or indicator. I’m also not alone in this opinion. The sheer number of citizens single-issue-voting on Second Amendment rights is what gives the “pro gun” lobbying groups the clout that they have. It isn’t blood money and it isn’t manufacturers donating to the NRA. It’s often (but not always) me, it might be you, it’s many of the 5 million paying NRA members, but it’s also tens of millions of other active voters across the country.
There may not be another single issue that has so many people voting for or against candidates based solely on that issue. But it isn’t about guns. Well, not only about guns. Sure, we’re very serious about retaining our natural, civil, and constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, but what else do you think goes with this? On what other topics do you expect a pro-Second Amendment politician to diverge from a pro-stringent gun control politician? Do you agree that a vote along Second Amendment lines isn’t really a “single-issue vote,” because it’s a reliable indicator of an entire range of opinions a politician likely holds? What sorts of issues and philosophies are you supporting when you #GUNVOTE? Or do you believe that single-issue voting is lazy and irresponsible in all cases?
Onto the Evergreen State, and we’re getting hit with I-594. This one makes me particularly nervous, because the brief blurb that’s actually on the ballot (see lead photo) gives it that wonderful “common sense” feel. I fear that your average voter is going to read that, think “why on earth wouldn’t we want background checks on all gun sales?” and vote “YES.” Unfortunately, 594 is far from your standard “Universal Background Check” bill.
To keep it as short as possible here — and you can watch my video below for examples and more information — the bill not only requires FFL-facilitated background checks on all private sales, but on practically all transfers that you can think of. The really shocking part is what I-594 considers a “transfer.” I had a few folks read the text on the ballot (two of whom are quite firmly anti-gun) and then asked them to tell me what they assume a “transfer” is under this law. Every last one said a transfer of ownership. Well, that isn’t the case here.
You see, the bill includes loans in its definition of “transfer.” Again, though, it’s worse than it sounds. Reading through the text of the bill, it becomes quite apparent that, with only very limited exceptions, a transfer has occurred simply if one person holds another person’s firearm. That’s right, if you swing by my house and want to look at a firearm in my safe, I’m afraid if you hold it we have both committed a Gross Misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses are felonies. Want to go shooting in the woods together? Well that sounds like great fun, but unfortunately we can’t try each other’s firearms. Should I hand you my over/under so we can take turns throwing clays, we’ve just done an illegal transfer.
Fortunately, complying with the law in this case is no problem at all. You see, if you want to briefly hold one of my firearms we’d simply have to go to a licensed firearms dealer and pay them to process a Federal background check and ownership transfer. Now the gun is legally yours and you can check it out. When you’re done, we simply have to pay the dealer to process a background check on me so you can transfer ownership back to me. Oh, it’s possible that we’d be hit with ~8.7% use tax on the value of the gun both times. How would the State know to demand use tax on the transfer? Well, because records of the transaction, including firearm model, serial number, and personal information about buyer and seller, must be reported to the State. Naturally, this could never create a “registry” even though it is one.
For more of the insanity, please visit Vote NO 594.
P.S. — Please vote “NO” on I-594
P.P.S. — I-591 is on the ballet right above I-594. They are diametrically opposed, as, among other things, I-591 makes it so Washington State cannot pass firearms background check regulations that are stricter than Federally-required regulations. This would make I-594 illegal. Anyone who votes “yes” on both measures is an idiot. However, it’s totally possible that both initiatives could pass. At that point, considering they are in direct conflict with each other, it will be fairly interesting to watch the aftermath. I suppose it’ll head right to the courts.