By Jeff Knox
(October 19, 2016) If you live in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, or California – or you know someone who does – it is critical that you – and they – get the following message about initiatives that are on the ballots in those states this year:
You are being lied to.
The initiatives will not accomplish what supporters and their advertisements claim, and they have great potential to harm innocents.
That message is what voters need to hear. Trying to explain to them the details of the bills and convince them of the flaws and harm that will result from passage, is an unrealistic goal. What they need to know and understand is that the promoters are lying. The laws won’t accomplish the stated goals. And they will be expensive and harmful.
Your mission is to make sure voters in those states get this message. The NRA and local grassroots groups are stretched thin in this critical election year, and voters are being inundated with political ads from all sides, so they need to hear it from trusted friends like you that these initiatives are bad, being promoted by deep-pockets, outside interests, and will do significant damage to rights for years to come.
Most voters don’t understand the initiative process or its implications. If a proposal sounds reasonable, they are inclined to support it – without understanding what it will really do. Many voters though, can be convinced to withhold their support if just a seed of doubt can be planted by someone they trust. There is nothing in these initiatives that is not already covered under existing state and federal law. Promoters of the initiatives try to paint them as simple common sense, but the mere volume of verbiage in the proposals puts the lie to the simplicity claim.
In Nevada, one word in the existing law could have been changed to accomplish the stated goal of the Bloomberg-sponsored initiative, but the initiative contains page after page of legalese that raises questions about virtually all firearm transfers, including simply letting a friend handle a gun, or even having someone house-sit while you’re out of town. It also takes something that has always been managed – at a profit – by the state, and puts it into federal hands – removing both control and revenue from the state.
In Washington, where 2 years ago Bloomberg and a consortium of billionaires spent over $10 million dollars to get an initiative like the ones on the ballot this year in Nevada and Maine passed, they are back for another bite of the apple, this time giving police, family, and coworkers the power to take guns away from someone who they say is a threat to themselves or others. This law is ripe for abuse, and its provisions are already covered by existing laws. So much for the claim that there is an urgent problem that requires immediate attention.
The first Bloomberg initiative, like the initiatives in Nevada and Maine, was opposed by virtually every police organization in the state, but the heavy ad campaign was enough to drown out that opposition and allow low-information voters to push the proposal into law. The state recently announced its first ever prosecution under the oh-so-urgently-needed law. It is a case where a young man admits to committing a federal felony by making an illegal, straw purchase on behalf of a friend. Now Washington has tacked on a misdemeanor for illegally transferring the gun. Criminals beware.
I have previously written about these initiatives in this column, and you can point people there if they want to better understand the issues, but a deep understanding isn’t really necessary. What is necessary is that they understand that these initiatives are much more complicated and convoluted than their promoters are claiming, and that they are being funded by outside interests for reasons other than what they are hearing in the expensive TV ads and the cards in their mailboxes. A billionaire like Bloomberg doesn’t pour millions of dollars into misleading advertisements promoting initiatives in several states for altruistic reasons. There is a bigger game afoot, and voters are being played.
Initiatives should be a tool of last resort, a way of forcing laws past an unresponsive legislature and/or governor, and they usually have special protections to keep the politicians from making any changes to them for at least a couple of years after they are passed. This adds to their power, and adds to the dangers involved in using them. Just a few wrong words or clever provisions can result in consequences that voters never intended, and they can’t fix them without another expensive initiative or waiting several years for the legislature to be able to take some corrective action. The more words an initiative has, the greater the probability that there is something dangerous buried in them, even if the main provisions are sound.
So again, here is the mission for everyone reading this who supports individual rights and opposes the nanny state: Contact everyone you know in Nevada, Maine, Washington, Colorado, and California. Let them know that they are being lied to by supporters of the gun initiative on their ballot, and urge them to vote “No.” Share this article with your like-minded friends so they can let their friends in those states know that they too are being lied to. Use your influence to plant the seeds of doubt and stop Bloomberg and his money from buying rights by lying to voters.