Citizens in at least four states will have the opportunity to vote on gun control measures on their state ballots in November. Washington state voters will decide if the police can take guns away from dangerous people. California will vote on banning large-capacity magazines, while Nevada and Maine have measures to expand background checks.
Congress has failed to act
The state-level ballot measures are a response to the failure of Congress to enact stricter gun laws, even though polls show that a majority of Americans support some level of increased gun control measures.
For too long, there has been a disconnect between what the American people demand on gun safety and how American politicians vote. — John Feinblatt, Everytown for Gun Safety
State level change has proved effective
The focus attempts to mimic the success that same-sex marriage and the use of recreational and medical marijuana have found over the past few years when presented as state measures. When Congress refuses to act on the federal level to enact change that has a popular mandate, the state route has become an effective way to get things done.
It is harder for pro-gun lobby groups such as the NRA to oppose state-level measures where the voters are able to drill down to the actual details of what’s being proposed. None of the proposed measures will affect the right of law abiding and mentally healthy individuals from owning a gun for personal use.
Background check for ammo
Here’s a summary of the four state measures:
California: The “Safety for All Act” initiative proposes a ban on all ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets. It would also require a background check for all ammunition buyers and would refine the process for not permitting felons to own guns.
Polls suggest that some 80% of Californians support ammunition background checks, and no one is seriously opposed to removing guns from felons and the mentally ill. There is some controversy over banning the high capacity magazines.
Nevada: The ballot measure will close some background check loopholes and make private gun sales subject to background checks. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) earlier vetoed similar legislation, saying it would “unnecessarily restrict rights of law-abiding Nevadans.”
Maine: Another state ballot measure to expand background checks for all gun buyers, including private sales.
Takes away guns from mentally ill
Washington: Initiative 1491 proposes a process for removing firearms from those who are considered a threat to the public safety. It would permit family members or law enforcement to file an affidavit before a judge seeking permission to take away a person’s firearms and prohibit them from purchasing weapons for a year.
Last week’s fatal shooting of five people in a shopping mall outside of Seattle may increase support for the measure after it was revealed that the shooter, Arcan Cetin, had a criminal record and that a Washington state mental health facility tried to have Cetin committed to a treatment facility.
Public concern increasing
As violent acts involving assault weapons using large capacity ammunition magazines have increased, the public appears increasingly concerned. The availability of these types of weapons and the ease with which anyone, including those with a history of mental illness and criminal convictions, can obtain these weapons, is now raising more public concern.