The new political reality

Two things happened last night that will affect gun owners in America. The first is relatively good news. The GOP regained control of the Senate, meaning that both houses of Congress are under Republican control. That means that any new gun control legislation is pretty much DOA. That’s good, and I won’t spend a lot of time talking about that.

Here’s the bad news. In Washington, I-594 passed. The first thing I want to do is show you a map of how the counties in Washington voted on 594:


All of those green counties on the west coast of Washington are where most of the state’s population live. They are reliably blue counties in elections. The only real surprise on the map are that Whitman and Asotin county in Eastern WA voted yes on 594. I can only assume that Washington State University is responsible for Whitman, and I have no real theory about Asotin.

But allow me to return to the point. The reason why 594 passing is bad news for gun owners everywhere is because it validates Bloomberg’s strategy. This is a new kind of gun control game, they’re smarter than the Brady Campaign and they have functionally unlimited resources. Yes, they played it smart in Washington. They picked an issue that’s easy to misrepresent in universal background checks; they played that issue to a strong blue voter base, and then they spent a ton of money on marketing and GOTV. That’s textbook “Winning Ballot Questions 101” and it’s really hard to fight against.

I would expect to see a lot more ballot question fights in the near future, and I’d expect them to be over things like background checks. It is by far the toughest fight for us, because defeating their argument requires low information blue voters to actually care about facts, and that right there is why we lost in WA. Gun rights had all the facts on their side, and they still lost.

Sure, gun control at the national level is dead for at least two years. But buckle up Sally, because at the state level things could be getting rodeo pretty quick.


  1. Well, per Alinsky, Washington state should get all the gun control it wants, good and hard. It now becomes the duty of all gun owners to scrupulously follow the law, and just as scrupulously demand that it be enforced. Fully and completely. When some local pol stands in front of a gun store for a Feinstein-style photo op, the moment their hand touches a gun 911 should be called. Then make the Powers That Be explain, in public and on camera, why that person is exempt from the law. It’s the law they wanted, gun owners should see that they get it.

  2. That sounds great in theory Alien, but the David Gregory case where he violated dc’s ban on national tv makes it obvious that some people are more equal than others

    1. Or Mark Kelly in NY after the safe act passed and he did the photo op with the AG at a gun show and violated the transfer language multiple times picking up firearms for the camera

  3. In order for Bloomberg and Gates to successfully fund a repeat of I 594 they need two things;

    A state which permits direct initiatives (14 do, 36 don’t) and an electorate which will vote for one.

    It could happen again, but in most states it can’t and won’t.

    1. Nevada is the next target, then likely, Arizona. It will be a bit harder in those states, but the strategy is hard to beat. Misinform low information voters with media saturation and GOTV. 10 Million per state ($130 Million total) is small potatoes for Bloomberg.

      Classic case of Billionaire buying an election. He did the same thing to get his third term in NYC.

      1. Dean, they tried it here in NV but our governor shot it down which is why he got re-elected in my opinion. But I agree with you that they will try it again as Southern NV and Northern NV are quite a bit different.

  4. So in other words expect to see a lot of off cycle ballot questions on special elections (when no on is watching… Like Minnesota is notorious for doing)?

  5. I have talked to several cops on the issue of I-594, and they all express the same concern….it is basically unenforceable as written. They have no idea HOW they are going to enforce it, if required. Several of them have expressed the opinion that there is no way it can stand up in court. Given the liberal bent of Washington’s courts, we’ll seehow that works out.

    1. Most people will comply with the law ’cause that’s what people do. Violations will be selectively enforced. The law will do nothing to prevent dangerous and prohibited persons from getting guns-it isn’t really intended to.

      The intent of the law is to discourage firearms ownership by making it less convenient to buy and sell them. And to get ID verified names along side makes, models and serial numbers on BATFE form 4473.

      1. And here is where we are losing the fight – stubbornness. We don’t want background checks. Why exactly? Do you want criminals to be able to buy firearms freely? I don’t. It isn’t background checks that are the problem. It is what happens after a person is certified to buy a gun – the record of what or even if they bought. A smart warrior forfeits this battle to win the war. We give background checks with the stipulation that ZERO data about a purchase is recorded. Far fewer people will embrace the idea of a registration than the simple argument that we need to make sure a person buying a guns is legally allowed to. We counter their proposal with this: A person simply gets a background check to verify they are able to buy a gun, and if they are, it is good for a set period of time and they can buy unlimited number of guns without any further documentation being recorded. The liberals get their assurance criminals and mentally incompetent people can’t buy guns (like this really stops them) and we lose zero privacy. Then if we’re smart we flood the system by getting background checks as often as possible just to jam up the system. Even if we’re not buying a gun.

        1. Last year Illinois pass something akin to universal background checks. If I sell to another Illinois citizen, I shall validate their Firearms owners ID Card on the state police website. I get a validation number saying that person is okay to sell to. I keep record of validation and firearm transferred for a 10 year period. The chain of custody is maintained and if the buyer commits a crime, I am neither criminally or civilly responsible. As a firearms owner this seems like a good & prudent thing.

        2. Are you serious? We DON’T want the government to have a record of exactly what firearms a person owns, and we DON’T trust the government to be honest about discarding background-check records (as required by law in the federal case.)

          Plus, it’s a completely unwarranted intrusion into private matters. Would you like to be required to get a government permit before you can sell your car to somebody? Your computer or camera????

      2. Agree with Mossyrock and Robbie. However, I think if the law could be challenged in court it could be overturned as unconstitutional.

  6. As I have said from the beginning 591 should have been pro-background check but with out the ridiculous transfer provisions.

  7. Boy, where to start with this one. First off, the Spokane county margin was less than the state overall. Please don’t hold that against us. 😉 Second, Whitman is indeed populated largely by the college educated; on the face of it, this initiative read very well unless one is an SME in firearms policy and actually dug into the text. If one is neither an enthusiast/expert nor ferociously diligent, I594 looked great. Lastly, the proponents of I594 outspent the opponents by something like 18 to 1. The list of wealthy supporters isn’t just limited to Bloomberg’s considerable astroturfing and sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong; there were enough serious blockbuster MF donors [i]from within WA state[/i] to make this win a certainty (eg. Bill and Melinda Gates, Paul Allen, Hanauer, the Balmers): just 5 billionaire families alone donated half of the ten mil that bought and paid for this piece of crap. I do see that as sort of a Washington problem; I don’t know that Bloomberg would have had the credibility without so many famous names local to the issue coattailing on the thing.

    Oh, and I agree with Robbie that it could happen again, but it requires a perfect storm that WA was in a position to provide; I agree with Mossy that it is basically unenforceable (or, more horrifyingly, only *selectively* enforceable) and that most cops see it for what it is; I agree with David that 591 screwed the pooch by providing no alternative seen as reasonable by a majority of the voting public. Pro background check without onerous transfer wording would have been an easier alternative to sell in at least a few of those barely-green counties.

    1. Anything with any form of pro-background check would have fallen. No gun owners were going to vote for that. You concede too much.

    2. I completely disagree that I-594 “read well” to anyone. Rather, what read well was the official blurb (shocking in its dishonesty-by-very-partial truth.) The actual text was the usual barely-readable mishmash.

    1. Interesting that a couple of counties went yes on both, and only Walla Walla voted no on both.

      Isn’t this unusual with competing measures?

      1. Yes it is. I answered questions for a lot of people prior to the election, and found lots of confusion there.

    2. They should have thrown out all the ballots that were yes on 594 and 591. How’s that different than voting for Bush and Gore?

  8. The cynic in me thinks that yes votes on both indicates a fairly widespread lack of understanding of the initiatives’ details. No votes on both could be perceived as “leave it alone, state”, which I’m ok with. But I don’t have anywhere enough information for any serious analysis. [/shrug]

  9. I suggest that what otherwise law-abiding Washington gun owners should do is organize a significant civil rights demonstration. Get a large number, hundreds good & thousands great, of gun owners to gather on the grounds of the state capital, with their unloaded guns & with no ammunition onsite, & then everyone swaps guns without doing a BGC! If the authorities arrest anyone then it’s an instant court case. If they don’t then the law has just been nullified & shown publicly to be the sham that it is. Repeat as often as necessary until the law is repealed.

    1. Good idea, but a reader’s comment at another forum offers this advice:

      You really need a published opinion from the WA AG before attempting civil disobedience. Ask for an opinion if handing a gun to someone qualifies as a transfer under 594.

      If you don’t get an opinion, then likely what will happen is you will do your big gun swapping protest — LEO will ignore it, nobody will be arrested. MDA / POGR will claim victory, “see! we told you handing a gun to someone isn’t a transfer! haw haw haw!” and you will all look foolish and have accomplished nothing.

      Get a WA AG opinion FIRST. Get him to admit handing a gun is a transfer. THEN do your civil disobedience.

      If the WA AG opinion states handing a gun is not a transfer, get an opinion for another innocent scenario which he does consider a transfer. And go after that with your civil disobedience.

  10. The reason why they chose, and it worked in, Washington, and it’s my home state, although I no longer live there, is because with painfully few exceptions, the state is made up of ultra-low information voters who care more about smoking pot than upholding and defending the Constitution. If the country were to have an enema, the tube would go straight into Seattle!

  11. I live in CT, so in spite of a nationwide victory things still look pretty dark. The passing of 594 is serious indeed.

  12. well I think all the green above should have there own state and leave the rest of us to ourselves . WE can call them the Washington annex, or little California .No different than the spotted owl in the 80s . You will never get the firearms out of the outlaws hands with this asinine laws . one question to ask the proud voters of the yes side , did you read the whole bill and understand it or did you just like the adds on tv ??? because of a few gun owners that are irresponsible the rest have to pay . Ill take the bill of rites and the 10 commandments enough laws for me…

  13. Well…it appears we will simply have to appeal to a broader base. I still have faith in the more drastic gun control measures not being adopted (assault weapons bans etc…) but it’ll be a cold day in Hell before the NRA can actually get any airtime. Unlike Bloomberg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation…

    And they won’t be able to outspend them. It’s just not possible.

    1. it’ll be a cold day in Hell before the NRA can actually get any airtime

      Every time Wayne LaPierre appears on a TV talk show in Washington D.C., he should have a 30-round AR-15 magazine. Either hold it up as a prop, or just put it on the table in front of him.

      Actually, he should have been doing this right after the Washington D.C. prosecutor’s office decided that they were not goint to charge David Gregory for the same.

  14. People will still laugh and blow it off but this exactly why we should have seperated off E.WA. @ cle elum and formed a new state. You can write off the west side it was lost to the zombies long ago.

  15. A better demonstration would be to do as mentioned. Only have it be all of law enforcement that are opposed to the law. Have them transfer unloaded firearms as a demonstration. Then all handcuff each other immediately after. Or better yet, do it one at a time so the media has time to get ahold of the demonstration.

  16. I find it interesting that the writer avoided the fact that, even on his colored map, Spokane County voted yes, and anyone who knows Washington knows that Spokane is a reliably RED county in all other facets of the electorate. The remainder of the red counties in Washington are very sparcely populated and primarily farming communites. But Spokane is quite large, very red, and voted yes on I594.

    Same old misdirection and misinformation by the rightwing gunnuts. I’m not sure why you all are so serious about letting felons and the insane own guns, and why so many lies are being spread about an initiative that is short, easy to read, and makes sense, AND does not do most of the things people are claiming it does. Go the the Washington Secretary of State site and actually READ it. Duh. Can’t fix stupid, but you can fix ignorant in 5 minutes.

    1. Thanks Dean, you just confirmed the west side mentality. That is the stupid that can’t be fixed. Those asshole people that are bent on killing are still going to be getting the weapons, while the law abiding gun owners are trying to get the paperwork done.

    2. We aren’t; we are “so serious” about keeping the government out of private sales and, even more important, “transfers”.

  17. dean you are out of touch with reality it is allready illegal for a felon to have a gun but they still get them and they don’t do it at gun shows
    Let me share reality with you we have 3 types of people the user the deler and the person with a job who has never had a felony the junkie steels the gun from a friend family member or outright breakin then the dealer gives him 35 to 60 dollars of brown ( heroin) or a gram or two of white (meth) then the dealer sells the hot gun for 100 to the bad guy with a job or another dealer or any other criminal
    That is reality so tell me how is 594 going to help stop that this is how 99% of them get there guns

  18. And if it was really about background checks than the law would have simply mad you possess a background card of cc card problem solved

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