Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 51° Partly Cloudy
Opinion

Initiative 591: Voting yes will maintain balance between public safety, privacy rights

Alan Gottlieb

Initiative 591 is a simple, one-page measure that protects the integrity of background checks by requiring that such checks conducted in Washington comply with a uniform national standard. It protects against illegal search and seizure, preventing politicians and bureaucrats driven by an anti-rights agenda from depriving citizens of their property without due process.

Initiative 591 is supported by rank-and-file law enforcement. It is endorsed by two major statewide law enforcement organizations: the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, the oldest and largest law enforcement group in the state, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. It’s the only ballot measure endorsed by law enforcement organizations. The more than 7,500 police and sheriffs who oppose I-594 know that criminals will still acquire firearms where they do now: the black market, straw purchasers, theft and illicit sources like gangs and drug dealers. It is also opposed by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

I-591 will prevent government gun confiscation without due process. Don’t forget the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. More than 1,100 firearms were seized without due process, warrants or probable cause. Some people never got their property back. We are seeing confiscation of firearms in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and California under restrictive gun laws that were passed with promises that they would not affect the rights of law-abiding citizens.

The initiative affects Washington state citizens whether you own a gun or not. We already have seen legislation proposed at least three different times that would have allowed police to enter your home and search your bedroom for lawfully owned firearms without a warrant or court order. This sort of activity without due process cannot be permitted. I-591 protects background check uniformity and prevents unwarranted intrusion by the state or its subdivisions into temporary firearm loans to friends or in-laws. It stops the state from creating a universal gun registry that could enable future confiscation. It maintains public safety without invading individual privacy or turning law-abiding citizens into unwitting criminals. Maintaining balance between privacy rights and public safety is what this measure is all about.

Opponents don’t rebut the fact that the initiative stops firearms confiscation without due process of law. Why? Because due process led to a unanimous court reversal of the Seattle gun ban they supported.

They falsely claim that I-591 weakens current background checks, but can’t cite an example because there isn’t one. We need a strong uniform national standard background check law because criminals cross state lines. On the other hand, rank-and-file law enforcement oppose Initiative 594.

I-594 is an unfunded mandate that diverts scarce law enforcement resources away from keeping violent criminals off our streets, making us all less safe. Do you want sex offenders released from crowded prisons to make room for people convicted of family-firearm transfer violations?

I-594 is 18 pages of costly and confusing regulatory excess. It is punitive to lawful firearms owners. Want to lend your sister-in-law a gun to protect herself? Want to loan your adult sons shotguns to go hunting? I-594 makes you a criminal. A police officer who loans a personal firearm to a fellow officer would face criminal prosecution.

I-594 creates a “universal” government database of all lawful handgun owners. We deserve the protection of a well-written background check law that protects the right of privacy for lawful firearms owners.

We all want guns out of the hands of violent criminals and the dangerously unstable who are a threat to people like us. But this is not the way to do it. You can’t change criminal behavior by criminalizing lawful behavior.

Polls show that a large number of voters support both ballot measures. They’re not confused. They are conflicted. While everyone wants better background checks, they recognize the significant problems contained in the 18 pages of I-594. And they know that if I-594 is passed by itself, the Legislature is practically prohibited by law from fixing it.

That is why it is important to vote yes on I-591.

Alan Gottlieb is the chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.