If you’re confused about this year’s ballot featuring two opposing gun initiatives, that’s great news! Well, it’s great news for supporters of Initiative 591 anyway. Washington Gun Rights Measure 591 aims to maintain current law that only requires a background check to be conducted when a firearm is purchased from a licensed dealer. In other words, if you wanted to purchase a firearm from a total stranger, you don’t need to pass a background check in order to do so.
As you can see, this leaves a huge loophole in which criminals can take advantage. I actually worked at a gun store for a few months, so I have a better understanding of this issue than most people. Let’s just say, for example, that I’m looking to make a little extra money. I buy a brand new Glock 19 pistol for a little under $600. I keep it for six months so that the cops won’t think that I’m making a straw purchase. After six months time, I sell my brand new pistol to a felon for $1,200. I just turned a $600 profit. Even if the weapon is used in a crime and the police trace the firearm back to me, all I have to tell them is that I had no idea that said person was a convicted felon. And herein lies the problem: Initiative 591 places zero responsibility on behalf of the seller to ensure that they are selling to a legal owner.
So then why wouldn’t supporters of I-591 run an effective “say no to I-594” campaign instead of proposing an entirely new measure? The simple answer: to confuse voters. If voters end up voting “yes” on both measures, the results would cancel each other out. If this happens, then the law will revert to it’s current existence which only requires a background check for firearms that are purchased through a licensed dealer. It’s a conniving strategy, but strategies like this have been effective in the past.
A lot of people say I’m not pro-gun since I don’t support Initiative 591. Let’s clarify that right now: I am pro gun, but I’m also pro “keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Quite honestly, I’m sick of the whole attitude that one has to be on one side of the extreme or the other. It’s like on one hand, you have people who believe guns should be an absolute free for all. On the other hand, there are people who don’t think guns should be legal at all. I propose that there’s a middle ground to be met.
Talk to any responsible gun owner and they will tell you “safety comes first.” Yet, if that’s the case, shouldn’t background checks be a top concern amongst gun advocates? As a supporter of I-594, I’m not voting to banish everyone’s right to own a gun; I’m voting to banish the rights of violent offenders to own a gun. I’m voting to prohibit mentally unstable individuals from owning a gun. I’m voting to enforce these specifications on a broader level so that guns will be used in defensive situations, not offensive situations.