Voters from coast to coast on Tuesday will have to wrestle with a series of very different ballot initiatives revolving around gun politics.
Gun control referendums
In California, Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All” referendum, on the ballot as Proposition 63, would further enshrine a host of new laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year while requiring background checks prior to all ammunition sales – a first for any state. Newsom raised $5.2 million to get the measure on the ballot, largely from the state’s Democratic Party and wealthy donors. In opposition, the National Rifle Association and an umbrella of other groups have whittled support for Prop. 63 down, fortified by a number of endorsements from state law enforcement and civil rights groups, but the measure is still polling strong enough to likely pass.
Maine voters will have a chance to vote up or down for expanding background checks to include most gun transfers on Question 3. The initiative, bankrolled by more than $3 million in donations – largely from gun control groups financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been panned as unenforceable by 13 of 16 elected sheriffs in the state as well as the Maine Warden Service while Republican Gov. Paul LePage has called it the next step before weapon registration. Recent local polling shows support for Q3 at just 52 percent with a 3.6 percent margin of error, making it a toss up.
Nevada’s Question 1, which has received $19.7 million in funding largely from Bloomberg, is a mirror image of Maine’s Q3 push and one approved by Washington voters in 2014. Gun rights groups, primarily backed by the NRA, have contributed some $6.6 million towards stopping the measure, easily making it the most expensive single-issue gun control fight in the country. Recent polling found 54 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed support Question 1, a figure that has declined from September.
In Oregon, the Humane Society of the U.S. is the chief financial backer — to the tune of $1 million — of a Measure 100, which would ban the sale and possession of certain animal parts. The push is based on neighboring Washington’s Initiative No. 1401, which won by a 71 percent landslide in that state in 2014. Pro-hunting groups now as then oppose the measure, saying it would likely do little to protect endangered species while otherwise law-abiding gun owners in turn could be criminalized if they sell a vintage item, say a handgun with old ivory grips. A local poll in September found some 85 percent support for the measure.
Washington’s Initiative 1491 has raised $4 million from Bloomberg, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, and wealthy donors. The byzantine 21-page proposal, I-1491, would establish protection orders in the state to allow families and law enforcement to ask the courts to issue a temporary restriction on an individual’s gun rights. Without much funding towards opposition by gun rights group, polling in favor of I-1491 has been very strong.
The voter initiatives, which in the past have proven popular at the polls in other states, would open up the state documents and install the constitutional right to hunt, fish, and trap subject to conservation laws while establishing public harvest by sportsmen as the preferred method of wildlife management. Lawmakers in both states approved the proposals by wide margins, sending them to the ballot where polling has been strongly in favor.
Outdoor groups such as Safari Club International as well as gun rights organizations support the constitutional amendments while HSUS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals oppose them.
A series of “Veto Gunmageddon” petitions in California to repeal recent gun control laws failed to make the ballot despite initially strong grass roots support.
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