The defeat of Washington State ballot Initiative 676 is a disappointing loss for the state’s citizens, but the reasons behind it are clear.
Unfortunately, the NRA outspent the home-grown Safety First Campaign by more
than five-to-one and successfully scared many Washingtonians out of voting for
this life-saving measure. Safety First, which led the fight to pass I 676,
should be commended for standing up for what is right in the face of opposition
from the one of this nation’s most ruthless and devious special interest groups.
The NRA’s guerrilla tactics are the highest form of flattery. Since when
does the gun lobby have to work so hard to defeat a measure in so-called ‘friendly’ territory? Clearly, the tides are turning in the gun control debate.
More and more Americans, gun owners and non-gun-owners alike, are demanding
stronger measures to prevent gun deaths and injuries. I 676 may be dead, but the
gun control movement in Washington State and around the country is becoming
increasingly mobilized and potent. This is certainly not the last we will hear
from our friends at the Safety First Campaign or their counterparts in other
states around the nation.
Nov 4, 1997
STATEMENT OF SARAH BRADY RE: NRA’S BIG GUNS HOLD WASHINGTON STATE HOSTAGE TO
WEAK GUN LAWS
[See here and here (even though the NYT got a lot of things wrong) for more information on I-676.
Nearly everything in this statement is false. I participated in this campaign and spend many nights at “ground zero” (CCRKBA campaign headquarters in Bellevue) at a personal cost of $1/minute in take home pay (I could have been earning overtime at my high paying contract job).
The lies and distortions are as follows:
- The vote was 71%-29% against the initiative. Even the liberal Seattle Times and Seattle Post Intelligencer editorial boards came out against it. 71% of the voters were not disappointed. When only a minority of citizens were “disappointed” it is inaccurate to say the “state’s citizens” were disappointed.
- It had nothing to do with safety. It would have required gun owner licensing, training, firearm registration and, probably due to poor wording rather than intent, paperwork to transfer the gun back and forth if you let the guy in the shooting booth next to you fire a couple rounds. It was about putting barriers up to exercise a specific enumerated right recognized by both the Washington State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
- The NRA came to the game late. It was the CCRKBA that lead the fight and put up most of the early money. Private polls showed we were ahead in September before the NRA dumped their money into the campaign.
- Washington State was considered friendly territory to the anti-gun forces. Initial polling gave I-676 an easy win, something like 60-40 IIRC.
- When voters stomped the anti-gun people into the mud 71 to 29 that is hardly a difficult win. We put more money and effort into the campaign than we knew was required to maximize the margin. We didn’t want to repeat the fight the next year or in another state. We wanted them completely demoralized and a stake driven through the heart of those concepts. It worked. They didn’t try that again anywhere–contrary to Brady’s prediction.
But I do agree with Sarah Brady on one item. The tide did turn in the gun control debate.–Joe]