Last Tuesday held an important anti gun regulation has been passed in Washington state. The Initiative 594, which requires universal background checks for gun buyers in the state.
The Initiative was voted for by 60 percent of voters, and will require regulation of weapon purchases at gun shows or over the internet. Seattle mayor Ed Murray claims that this is a part of a system of common-sense rules that could make a huge difference. He noted that 18 states (19 if you count Washington DC) have fewer LEOs shot, fewer women killed in domestic disturbances and fewer suicides with firearms.
Images of gun rampages and mass shootings seems to be fresh in the minds of the public. They in turn, draw ever increasing media attention which forces people to question the cause of these horrific events, and to seek ways to prevent, or at least, minimize them. The latest shooting took place at Washington school on October 24. Five victims died and their killer shot himself. This is probably one of the causes of an increase in support of I-584. This is reminiscent of the similar measure passed in Colorado after the Columbine tragedy.
Tuesday vote was a very clear electoral victory for the gun ownership reform movement that arose two years ago in the wake of Sandy Hook shooting. Two movements – Everytown for Gun Safety, backed by Michael Bloomberg, and Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by former congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords – dedicated massive funds and other means of support to the fight. These groups have the primary goal to counterbalance the political influence of the National Rifle Association. The passing of I-594 (and the defeat of a counter-initiative) seems to indicate they gained a large amount of influence in less than two years of their existence. Over 2.5 million people support Everytown, their former executive director Mark Glaze said that the movement has a significant amount of money and talent, a huge step up from just a few years ago.
As staunch proponents of less strict gun control laws, the NRA spent millions fighting this Initiative. NRA spokesperson expressed concern that these anti-gun movements will successfully replicate this and that they will face gun-control ballot initiatives across the country.
This experience seems to have poked holes in tried and tester reliance of the gun lobby on their allies and supporters in the statehouses. Glaze says that Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Maine are excellent prospects for more gun control initiatives. While ballot initiatives are not allowed in all states and tend to be fiendishly expensive, expanded background checks have been drawing consistent support in national polls. This might be the true battleground where gun control debate will be decided, with a simple majority vote. It is extremely unlikely the NRA will take this lying down, so we should expect a protracted and vicious battle for hearts and minds of voters, encouraging them to vote in the way of true participatory democracy.
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