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Gun Owners Should Fight Gun Control Ballot Initiatives: Here's Why

By: Brenden Boudreau

Ballot initiatives are quickly becoming the flavor of choice for anti-gunners looking to circumvent the legislative process and put gun control up for a popular vote in states across the nation. All these efforts are put forward under the guise of “democracy,” but are really just another way for big city billionaires to fund massive misinformation campaigns and ram their agendas through the system.

Fortunately, not everyone is falling for these tactics. Gun owners in Oregon dodged two bullets this year after an “assault weapons/large capacity magazine” ban and mandatory storage requirements failed to make it on the ballot for this fall’s election.

Initiative 43, which, if passed, would have banned so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines,” hit a road block at the end of June when the Oregon Supreme Court determined the term “assault weapons” is imprecise and not universally agreed upon. The court thus ordered the title of the initiative to be changed.

This action by the Oregon Supreme Court effectively ran out the clock on the supporters of Initiative 43 by denying them the time needed to gather enough signatures to put their question on the ballot. Despite this small victory, gun owners in Oregon should not rest on their laurels; this setback is sure to be only a minor bump in the road for supporters of gun control in the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, Oregon’s northern neighbor of Washington State has seen gun control on the ballot in 2014 and 2016 and appears to be poised to have another massive gun control package on the ballot this November. Initiative 1639 would raise the age to purchase a semi-automatic firearm in Washington to 21, expand background checks and require training and waiting periods for those wanting to purchase a semiautomatic gun. It also includes mandatory storage requirements, just as the proposed Oregon measure did.

Of course, it is not too terribly surprising to gun owners that these initiatives are being proposed on the Left Coast of America. This type of anti-gun activism is commonplace in California, and it appears the plague is spreading.

Now that the gun control crowd has found success using ballot measures, they, with the help of rabid anti-gun advocate Michael Bloomberg, are looking to test the waters elsewhere. Back in 2016, Bloomberg-funded organizations were successful in putting universal Brady checks, also known as universal background checks, on the ballot in Nevada and Maine, both of which have strong gun cultures.

Gun rights groups were vastly outspent by Bloomberg and his allies, but found success in defeating the measure in Maine. They were, however, narrowly defeated in Nevada. Poor drafting of the measure in Nevada rendered the initiative null and of no effect, but still could be fixed by a future ballot measure or by the Nevada Legislature.

The good news is that not every state has a mechanism for gun control advocates to put their radical agenda before the voters in the form of a ballot measure. Not having this option on the books prevents out-of-state interest groups from pumping millions of dollars into their states to mobilize and misinform the masses in support of gun control.

In states that do have ballot measures as an option, however, gun owners must be prepared for the possibility that gun control could be appearing on their ballots soon.

Very little good ever comes from the ballot initiative process; it is a favorite tool the left uses to mobilize their base and chip away at our freedom, not only concerning firearms, but on a whole host of issues.

To rein in the number of initiatives appearing on ballots in recent years, several states have begun taking action to protect the integrity of their elections by strengthening the requirements to place measures on the ballot. This action, of course, comes with loud howling from the political left who claim it is a means of undermining the “democratic process.”

The reality is that this nation was founded upon republican principles in which citizens elect representatives to the various legislatures, who then go about making laws. Ballot initiatives, or direct democracy, undermine and circumvent the legislative process to the point that in some states, such as California, the state legislature hardly matters anymore. California is exactly what mob rule looks like and is what our Founding Fathers feared most.

Gun owners stand a greater chance at stopping gun control moving through a state legislature, or even Congress, where only a handful of politicians have to be lobbied to support gun rights. When gun control is put on the ballot for the masses to vote on it, gun owners are all but certain to be out-funded and out-organized.

Any attempts by state legislatures to impose stricter requirements on putting measures on the ballot should be prudently supported by gun rights activists nationwide, as it is one sure way to cut off another avenue of attack on our freedom by the anti-gun left.

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at bpb@nagrhq.org.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.