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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.


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  1. Some here are saying a yes on both I-591 and 594 will keep it in the courts for years, as they conflict.

    I disagree, no on 594, yes, though symbolic, on 591.

    • Yeah…whatever you do, DON’T vote yes on an initiative you wouldn’t want to pass. Vote for the good one — I-591 — so that if the bad one does pass despite your vote, it conflicts with the good one. The state can’t enact contradictory laws, so…

    • You cannot vote “yes” for both, because they are registered as competing initiatives. Here’s what this means in accordance with WA state constitution (Article 2, Section 1):

      “When conflicting measures are submitted to the people the ballots shall be so printed that a voter can express separately by making one cross (X) for each, two preferences, first, as between either measure and neither, and secondly, as between one and the other. If the majority of those voting on the first issue is for neither, both fail, but in that case the votes on the second issue shall nevertheless be carefully counted and made public. If a majority voting on the first issue is for either, then the measure receiving a majority of the votes on the second issue shall be law.”

      So you only have three choices: no for both, yes for 591, yes for 594.

  2. I tend to vote for more freedom, less government, more civil rights recognition and most specifically, pro 2A.

    Spot on Jeremy. 594 is horrible.

    • I believe it is immediate defense and danger. As in your friend is in the other room with the robber and your gun, and you give him permission to pick it up for self defense. Yes it is (18pages) that specific.

      • A transfer necessary to prevent imminent death or grave bodily harm IS one of the 7 allowed exceptions under this law. However, it specifically states that this transfer is only allowable for as long as necessary until the imminent threat has been reduced and that it’s still completely illegal under this law to “transfer” a firearm into the hands of a prohibited (from firearms ownership) person for the temporary purposes of this defense. Sorry, I-594 force of law, but I’m afraid that if I’m hanging out in my house with somebody who is a prohibited party for some reason (I’m actually not sure I know anyone in that category, but there are myriad non-violent and non-threatening ways to be a prohibited party… just ask Martha Stewart) and armed criminals are trying to break into my home and the only way I’m likely to survive is by putting a firearm in the hands of my prohibited party friend, guess what? Yeah, they’re armed now. Sorry, I’m not willing to choose death in order to avoid running afoul of what is literally an exception to an I-594 exception.

  3. It is an 18 page proposed law, there are a lot of exceptions, Bob.

    Thanks for the link to that app GuyfromV, it may be my go to app in a few weeks.

    ~Spectre the Spokanite.

    • If I were elected Governor, or President for that matter, and somebody handed me some massive pamphlet that’s supposed to be one law, that had a huge pile of exceptions in it that would only be capable of tangling up everything, I would gleefully veto it. Not with a pen, but with a Zippo.

  4. Not only does it create a registry, it’s unenforcable. This “feel good” legislation is only going to make our lives hell. No on 594, Yes on 591.


    • Your comment on unenforceable law reminded me of a quote. So, if I may, I’m going to quote bomb just a little bit here:

      “The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.”
      — Albert Einstein

      “You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.”
      — Lyndon B. Johnson

      “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system.”
      — Ayn Rand

        • Hey if you like quotes, sign up for the e-mail list here: …they send usually 3 quotations, 5 days a week and they’re really good (and the specific source is usually stated). I archive them in my gmail so they’re searchable and it’s pretty freaking awesome. I very much enjoy reading them! It’s free and I have never noticed any spam whatsoever related to signing up for this service. Just a single e-mail 5 days a week.

          There were a couple recently that made me do somewhat of a double take! Like…

          “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
          — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
          (1933- ) Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
          Source: July 7, 2009 interview, New York Times

          “Marijuana leads to homosexuality … and therefore to AIDS.”
          — Carlton Turner
          White House Drug Czar

        • Forgot to mention, but the general theme of the quotes from them is “liberty.” They aren’t Republican or Democrat or Conservative, they’re mostly more or less Libertarian in flavor. I think it’s fair to say that means you’ll find more head nodding in agreement from Republicans and Conservatives than you will Democrats or those on the left in general, but there’s plenty of stuff that flies in the face of political opinion on both sides of the spectrum.

  5. This is a massively misleading and biased “description” of the initiative. I would like to think that the text in and of itself could be challenged as vague at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. For one thing, most sales at gun shows and online involve FFLs and would therefore require a background check. This is marketing hype from the gun-prohibitionists and should not be the description on the ballot.

  6. Good luck to y’all in WA, I kind of get the feeling you might need it. This is the definition of feel good PC bs.

    Man TTAG is moving slower than molasses today, I keep getting this 502 server error occasionally on here also.

    • Only a few months after the Newtown shooting, the WA legislature shot down a “universal background checks” bill. That one was a legit UBC bill with no hidden crap that I was aware of. It even exempted CPL (concealed pistol license aka CCW permit) holders from background check, considering we’ve already been State and Federally vetted, fingerprinted, etc, and it also specifically prohibited the State from keeping any records of transactions. But it was voted down.

      HOWEVER… this one is now on the ballot for the people to vote on. Based on the ballot description, I’m very nervous and definitely agree that we’re going to need all the luck we can get to see it fail. This is a horrific nightmare of a bill (just in time for Halloween?) in comparison to the one that our representatives voted down after Newtown. In that case they actually, legitimately DID vote it down because they were representing the desires of their constituents. In this case, the constituents are left to their own devices and I’m afraid it’s going to go awry due to that misleading description. People who weren’t dialed in enough to weigh in on a measure passing through the state house are now going to see something on their ballot. Knowing what’s going on in the state house or senate is a far cry from seeing something right in front of your face on a ballot. Oy.

  7. I’m very pumped about this election. My incumbent State Senator and incumbent State Rep are both NRA-Endorsed Republicans (in MA!), and I also get to vote against that reprehensible shrew Martha Coakley in favor of a Republican who has a good chance of winning the Governorship.

    Then I will sit back and watch the returns in the hope that the rest of the country is as smart as POTG.

  8. We are going to get screwed. Why inject logic into an emotional decision?

    Our only hope is that it’s tied up on two years and then the legislature can gut it. Of course, another initiative could also come along and gut this piece of shit, but I wouldn’t count on us getting that lucky.

  9. All the ballots but 2 have NRA-supported candidates and everywhere but the SeaTac area is mostly red, even a couple of the Eastern ballots have both candidates as getting As on NRA “grades”, but the “endorsed” one is the higher of the two, 594 losing requires just enough King County utopians to go against 594 and the rest of the state can carry the rest. No matter the outcome, I’m sure each side has court issues to bring that could turn long and boring…better for us, also, I think.

    • Yeah, geographically the state is VERY against this measure. Unfortunately, King County has the population and is solidly “left” and, thus, WA is reliably a blue state in many cases (including voting for President).

  10. Damn right I’m going to #gunvote. NO on 594, YES on 591.

    594 is probably going to pass (because it has rich celebrity backers and people are stupid), so the best chance we have is to make sure 591 also passes. And then we watch the fireworks begin.

    The Democratic party’s antics over the last couple of years have turned me into not necessarily a single issue voter, but pretty darn close. Took a while, but I finally see why so many people say that a candidate’s stance on guns and the Second Amendment is a reliable proxy for their respect for the Constitution and stance on liberty in general.

    I’m not going to reflexively vote for people solely because they’re pro-gun (it’s still possible to be pro-gun and anti-freedom in other ways), but anyone who isn’t has automatically lost me.

  11. Heck yes I will be voting on this. No on 594, yes on 591. 594 will criminalize the normal activities of safe, non-violent gun owners. It creates a registry, nay, it REQUIRES a registry to make it enforceable and any gun not purchased through an FFL (even those legally purchased in the past) is now a wood/metal/plastic felony machine.

    Any gun owner who votes YES on I594 is inviting felony charges and/or gun confiscation on themselves.

    The only causes where transfers are legal (paraphrased)

    Legitimate gifts to immediate family
    Between spouses
    In the case of self-defense as long as you give the gun right back
    In the training of youth under supervision (not training of adults though)
    While hunting ONLY if you both have hunting licenses and you perform the transfer in an area where hunting is legal
    At an organized competition
    At an organized entertainment event where firearms handling is part of the show
    If you are an agent of the government acting in the line of duty
    With rental guns at the range (or private guns that are stored exclusively at the range)

    That’s it. Anything else requires FFL transfer to the recipient and FFL transfer back to you. Yes, even just handing a gun to someone is a gross misdemeanor on the first offense. There are no exceptions for CPL holders, off-duty police, military, or people who can prove that they are legally eligible to own firearms.

    And the burden of proof is on the defendant.

  12. Good luck to you freedom loving citizens in WA state.

    I haven’t seen the ads, but I really hope someone can boil it down in a couple of sentences that explain to NON-GUN owners,

    why I594 is a bad piece of legislation,

    and why I591 is a good one.

    BOTH provide for background checks to deny legal gun purchases to bad guys.

    But, as I understand it, I594 opens the door to gun-registration, which is the fatal flaw in ANY gun-control scheme, that historically has led to citizen disarmament, in Germany, and elsewhere.

    Am I right on that? Seems to me there are a LOT of tech geek libertarians and anarcho lefties that get a bug up their a$$ over any top down tyrrany.

    Especially when snuck under the radar screen by Rich Guys from Out of Town.

    All this careful talk and quibbling is moot.
    It won’t be enough to swing a few more pluses to I591.

    Even if you could, at best that will tie it up in court, and those odds are going down- 40% is a long way from 50%.

    NRA, SAF, NSSF- You are going to have to massively discredit or damage support for I594 at the same time.

    Why is it that 7500 Police Chiefs and Sheriffs have endorsed I591, saying the alternative is unenforceable and a bad idea, yet 4 or 5 rich guys from out of town, can take away one’s freedom to self-defense?

    Somebody is not hitting the right buttons on the liberal voters in Seattle.

    NRA has lately made beautiful and effective tv ads aimed at sensibility of gun owners- but can those producers hit the target in the minds of non-gun owners?

  13. The article is correct. 594 is a massive brainwashing campaign designed to instill fear, paranoia, hysteria, and make fools of anyone they can sink their misguided hooks into. Sound a little over the top?, it isn’t, 594 is truly bad law. It will do nothing but cost money, drain resources, and impair the responsible law-abiding gun owner.

    594 is a feel-good, quick fix promoted initiative, this alone should tell any intelligent adult something is askew.

    We all want a safe community, 594 will not deliver, it just can’t. Vote NO on 594.

  14. Boomberg or someone with very deep pockets is saturating the airwaves with ads to vote for 594. Don’t see much in the way of ads saying vote against. So much for the theories that the NRA and the Firearm Companies control the airwaves and the voters. Between these ads and the incident in the Marysville, WA area I would be surprised if 594 does not pass. Just hoping that, if it does, 591 passes also.

  15. Wow, US gun laws are getting as silly as gun laws in Germany. And in Germany they are already pretty silly in some cases already! You have my compassion.

    Anyway, rights are taken only if we let them take us. We must not stop our effort to fight the abolition of our civil rights!

    Live free or die fighting for.

  16. Well it freaking passsed!! What is the world coming to? My county (Walla Walla) mostly voted no for it, but it still snuck by and passed >.<

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