I-594 election night at CCRKBA

Barb and I visited the election watch party at CCRKBA last night. Here are some pictures:

Anette Wachter, CCRKBA staff (?), Boyd, Barron, and Janelle via the Seattle Times.

My version of nearly the same thing as above. We are not happy with what we see.

Mr. Completely, Anette, Alan Gottlieb, Janelle, Barron, via the Seattle Times.

More than anything I was struck by the event was in the offices of CCKBA which could only hold a few dozen people. At a similar event for I-676 in 1997 they rented a event hall and hundreds of people showed up. This time we probably had almost as many media people as we did supporters. This time I knew nearly all the non-media people attending.

In many ways I-594 was identical to I-676. They both required paperwork and state involvement for simple, innocent, ordinary transfers of firearms. Both had deceptive and innocent sounding titles (“Mandatory background checks” versus “Mandatory safety training”). In both cases law enforcement were opposed. Yet we didn’t get the traction to come even close to defeating it.

I had lunch with Ry today and discussed why this might have happened. Our conclusions were twofold:

  1. In 1997 we were outraged with the 1994 “assault weapon” ban and the follow-on attempts in congress to push us into extinction as well as similar efforts in the states. Today we have a lot more confidence the courts will protect us. We didn’t have our backs to the wall and in a win or die fight.
  2. This time most people, at some level, recognized it was a loosing battle and it wasn’t worth the effort. I know this was a significant component of my mindset. I had a lot of other things going on in my mind that took a higher priority. I was finishing up my divorce (and follow-on skirmishes), I had time sensitive Boomershoot 2015 details to attend to, and I had a relatively new relationship with Barb that was a lot more pleasant to focus on than something I knew was almost a certain loss.

But how, beyond a simple gut feel, did I know it was certain loss?

A year or two after I-676 went down in defeat I had lunch with Alan Gottlieb. He told me our opponents were planning a new initiative. This was an initiative mandating universal background checks. CCRKBA had done their homework and tried many different concepts in presenting our opposition to such a thing. They did focus group studies with various sound bites and slogans. Nothing worked. It appeared inevitable we would lose such a battle. He didn’t signal this to anyone but close insiders. Publically he pointed out how we had bloodied their noses in the I-676 battle and how the people were on our side and claimed we could do it again if we needed to. But behind the scenes we were scared. Very scared. We had no hope of winning the battle if they attacked again.

I don’t know for certain why our opponents didn’t come back at us then but I’m glad they didn’t. As terrible as the passage of I-594 was yesterday it would have been much worse 10 or 15 years ago, before D.C. v. Heller. Today we have a decent hope of court protection. Then it would have been “a good first step” toward the massive restrictions they are so eager to inflict upon our specific enumerated rights that we could have today been in a situation like California or even Chicago is now.

I can imagine an alternate universe where a different history exists. In this alternate history our opponents were not quite so demoralized and/or timid and attacked us again a few years before the 2008 Heller decision and changed the course of gun rights in this country with a win in Washington state. With a model playbook for our opponents to impose their tyranny in most states, chill the exercise of our rights, we then lost mindshare, and we lost Heller. And then we lost it all.

We still have a lot territory to recover but with the Heller and other decisions behind us we are in a much stronger position to win it back. Let’s work toward making sure we still win the long battle even with this setback today. We must choose the fights and not let our opponents choose them for us. When we attack at their weak spots they must expend resources they could better use attacking our weak spots. For us I-594 was a defensive battle against our weakest point. We lost. We need to keep attacking their weak spots even if every attempt does not result in a win.

In Washington State we had been winning the defensive battle against background checks in the legislature and occasionally making successful offensive plays for many years. That sort of avoiding defeat, one year at at time, is incrementally less costly than winning an initiative measure but it is far less influential. Winning the initiative would have been more permanent. It probably would have silenced that issue for a dozen years in Washington State and perhaps have discouraged the billionaires from spending money in other states. But it also is an opportunity for us.

But some our most dramatic and long lasting wins have been in the courts. Shutting down the “collective rights” argument in the Heller decision resonates today and probably will continue for decades. If we can win this issue in the courts it will be more permanent and have greater benefit to people in other states being attacked. And because of the 10 to 15 year delay in taking this issue to court we have a lot stronger hand to play than we did then.

Support SAF and their “goal of winning firearms freedom, one lawsuit at a time.” If not them then some other pro-rights group with a history of accomplishment.


16 thoughts on “I-594 election night at CCRKBA

  1. So now that all gun owners are magically good guys and have gone through the background check and registration process, there’s no reason *not* to allow full auto weapons and permitless CCW for everyone, right?

      • The reason I wrote “or” is I fear that successfully rolling back the worst parts via amendments would prevent the courts declaring the whole thing null and void.

    • The voters have spoken. The legislators aren’t going to want to touch this. You’re going to have to go through the courts.

      • First, I’m glad you admit that this law isn’t likely legal to begin with.

        Second I wonder. This law was sold as requiring background checks on private sales, and gun shows.

        Do you think the people who supported this law will feel so happy about it when they realize they can’t walk into a gun shop and look at a new gun they’re considering buying? Or when a friend of family member becomes a criminal because they lent a person a hunting gun for a hunting trip? Or making somebody a criminal for lending a friend a gun when their stalker or Ex starts making threats?

        I think, like Obamacare, once people actually SEE what’s in the bill, they won’t be so happy about it.

  2. Like DC’s draconian gun laws, that are ignored when a person of celebrity waves around a banned item in front of millions, but a soldier is prosecuted for not knowing his bag, packed by his squad mates, contained banned ammo, the whole point of having laws that make everyone a criminal for performing normal activities is to allow prosecutorial discretion.

    It is easier to control a populace through intimidation and fear of terrible penalties, arbitrarily applicable to anyone, than it is to lead a populace when there are limits on the authority of the government.

    This is a terrible law, and will be used terribly against those the government most hates.

  3. I would never knowingly support an organization who’s leader had decided years in advance that it was going to lose. THAT is the surest path to defeat.

    As far as the “The people have spoken” argument goes (ubu). I haven’t look et at the final numbers, but at one point it showed about 33% voter participation, with, let’s say 60% support. That’s 60 percent of 33 percent of voters, or less than 20%, of a subset, of the total population.

    So who, really, has spoken? The initiative did NOT come from citizen grass roots in Washington State. It came from Bloomberg and a scant few other of the one percent, many from out of state. They shop the ballot initiative states and pick and choose where they can most effectively attack. They chose an off year election because they knew fewer people would vote, which would be in their favor. That’s a fact.

    Now we get into speculation. In a mid term election as in every election, government employees and government contractors will consistently go out and vote, I say, because their very livelihoods depend on elections going “the right way”. Actual citizens, not so much. Also in the favor of the anti rights movement.

    Now of those less than 20% of eligible voters who “supported” 594, now many actually read it? Around seventeen pages (eleven columns of fine print in the very back of the voter’s pamphlet) of intentionally vague, misleading and confusing legalese. I’d estimate that we’re down to no more than ten to fifteen percent of 594 supporters who actually read it. That’s probably being generous. Of those who read it, how many actually understood it in terms of its true meaning AND implications? I’d estimate that we’re now down to maybe a few thousand people at the most, in the whole state. Possibly less.

    The People Have Spoken? No.

    My wife supported it (though she didn’t bother to vote) and was willing to go on and on about why, though she never read a single word of it.

    This is how liberty dies.

    This is what makes Progressives feel good. It gives them a sense of impunity, and they’re justified in that sense of impunity.

  4. I had someone say to me that the I-594 violates the notorious Single Subject rule. Any thoughts on that?

    • I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s “both sales and non-sale transfers.” Or background checks and taxes.” Or “BG checks and registration.” there might be others, but I don’t think that will fly. No harm in going through it with a fine tooth legal comb and file suit on each possible item of potential merit.

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