Gun Control Advocates Have Something to Smile About Today

Three state ballot measures opposed by the gun lobby passed yesterday.

A protester at a gun rights rally in Olympia, Washington, in JanuaryElaine Thompson/AP


Even as the National Rifle Association celebrates Donald Trump’s victory, gun control advocates have something to smile about today. Of the four gun-related measures on state ballots this year, three passed.

Maine’s Question 3

The only gun-related ballot measure not to win, Question 3 asked voters whether background checks should be required for private gun sales. If neither the buyer nor the seller is a licensed gun dealer, they’d have to go to a licensed dealer who would run a background check. The measure would have also required a background check for loaning guns, with exceptions for gun transfers between family members, emergency self-defense, and temporary transfers for hunting and sport shooting. Supporters, including Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Fund and Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership Fund, have spent $5.2 million to get the measure passed. Approximately $1 million was spent against it, the vast majority by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.

California’s Proposition 63

Prop 63 passed easily, garnering 63 percent of the vote. It will ban certain types of semi-automatic assault rifles, require background checks for ammunition sales, outlaw magazines that carry more than 10 bullets, create a system for confiscating guns from felons, and require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms. Major components of the initiative already became law earlier this year, and gun rights groups say they will challenge the overlapping laws in court. Opponents spent nearly $1 million against the measure to the nearly $4.5 million spent by supporters.

Nevada’s Question 1

Similar to Maine’s ballot initiative, Question 1 will require most gun sales, including private sales, to be subject to a background check. However, it narrowly passed by less than 10,000 votes. The same exemptions that Maine allows also apply here. Supporters spent more than $18 million and received significant financial backing from Everytown For Gun Safety. The NRA Nevadans for Gun Freedom and Nevadans for State Gun Rights spent nearly $6.5 million to sink the initiative. The NRA stuck to its usual script in opposing the measure, writing, “Question 1 does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms.”

Washington’s Initiative 1491

Initiative 1491 allows family, household members, and police to petition a judge to temporarily prohibit a person’s access to guns if that person is found to be a risk to himself or others. Petitions for an “extreme risk protection order” will last one year. Those under order can request a hearing to argue against the order. The NRA opposed the measure, saying that “if a person is truly dangerous, existing law already provides a variety of mechanisms to deal with the individual.” Nonetheless, it passed with 71 percent of the vote.