TOP STORY: Washington’s dueling initiatives takes center stage in national debate on background checks
Americans across the country will vote on Nov. 4 for all 425 House seats, 36 seats in the U.S. Senate, and for 36 governors in a mid-term election cycle virtually devoid of controversial gun-related petitions and initiatives.
The lone — and loud — exception is in Washington State, where voters on Tuesday will be confronted by dueling initiatives that have taken center stage in the national debate over background checks, with potential consequences beyond the Pacific Northwest.
How the Oct. 24 shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle may influence results is a wildcard in an election that could see both ballot measures approved, creating a confusing and contradictory conundrum for state legislators.
Initiative 594, supported by a $9 million campaign bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft Mega-Bucksters Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, would close the alleged “gun-show loophole” by requiring online and gun-show sales meet the same mental-health and criminal checks required by federal law at retail outlets nationwide.
Initiative 591, sponsored by Washington’s Second Amendment Foundation, would prevent the state from imposing any background check system more restrictive than the one required by federal law. Unlike I-594, rank-and-file citizens and law enforcement officials in a grassroots campaign assisted by $1.7 million from the NRA, which is opposed to I-594, but is strangely silent on supporting I-591, support Initiative 591.
Confusing? Indeed, especially if both garner more than 50 percent of the vote and both pass. Since they negate each other, it is uncertain which would take precedence.
At stake: Gun owners fear any vote in any state to tighten background checks could revive momentum to launch similar efforts elsewhere. Since the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., six states have tightened their background check laws. In Nevada, for instance, a group is already collecting signatures in hopes of getting a background-check measure on the 2016 ballot.
For more, go to:
— Gun-Control Battle Swings to Washington State
— Washington Voters Weigh Gun Control Measures in Wake of Shooting
— [Washington Gun Rights Measure, Initiative 591 (2014)](http://ballotpedia.org/Washington_Gun_Rights_Measure/, _Initiative_591_(2014));
— Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Initiative 594 (2014)
— Washington: Majority of Washington State Sheriffs Oppose I-594
— Washington: Washington State Republican Party Opposes Anti-Gun Initiative 594
— Guns are 2014′s hottest campaign accessory
— NRA Ducks Gun Fight Out West
LEGAL WATCH: High Court to ponder felons’ property rights
In late October, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that legal experts say could pit property rights against the federal prohibition against felons’ possessing firearms.
A ruling in the case, Henderson v. United States (No. 13-1487), is expected in June. It is the only gun-related issue the High Court agreed to hear during its 2014-15 session.
The lawsuit concerns Tony Henderson, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who was charged with selling marijuana in 2006, and later convicted of a felony. Federal law prohibits felons from possessing firearms. Henderson turned 15 personal weapons over to the FBI while his case was pending.
Two years later, Henderson submitted a bill of sale to the FBI, indicating he had sold the guns to another man. The government refused to turn the guns over, claiming the transaction essentially granted “constructive possession” of the guns to a convicted felon.
Henderson says the weapons had nothing to do with his crime and, therefore, as his private personal property, he was entitled to sell them. Lower courts split on the issue. The Feds say a ruling in United States v. Howell, which found convicted felons have “unclean hands” and have no right to control previously owned firearms, validates its position.
The legal question is whether the federal prohibition on felons possessing firearms terminates all ownership rights.
HEADS UP: ATT Goes into effect Dec. 24 with or without U.S. ratification
The global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) approved by the United Nations in April goes into effect on Dec. 24 after it was formally ratified by 50 nations in mid-October.
The United States signed the Arms Trade Treaty in September, but has not yet ratified it, nor is it likely that the U.S. will do so, especially if Republicans fare well in the Nov. 4 mid-term elections.
The purported intent of the ATT is to regulate the $85 billion arms export industry and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals.
The ATT aims to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters. It would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, and violations of humanitarian law or organized crime.
Although the treaty regulates firearms exports, not legal possession by individuals, every American gun-rights group roundly opposes it.
For more, go to:
— U.N. says Arms Trade Treaty to Enter into Force on Dec. 24
OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: NRA Hat gets voter booted from booth
Earlier this year, a Texas man was forced to cover a pro-Second Amendment t-shirt while voting in a local polling station. Last week, a Georgia man was asked to remove his “NRA Instructor” cap because poll workers said it was “too closely associated with the Republican Party.”
Bundy Cobb, a certified NRA firearms trainer, wears the suddenly offensive hat wherever he goes to promote his business, True Aim Defense. Nothing more, nothing less, except, apparently, when performing his civic duty and voting.
Obviously, some poll workers in some places need to associate voting with Democracy and forego passing political judgment on fellow citizens’ wardrobes.
For more, go to:
— Man Told To Remove His NRA Instructor Hat While Voting