This November sees a lot more than a new president. Governors, senators, and congressmen all look for the ability to sit on their respected capitol hills. However, even more than that, are the ballot initiatives. Many of which are not mentioned on the news, due to state specificity, in most cases. This November sees one such ballot initiative for Washington, and for gun owners, it holds quite a bit of importance.
Ballot Initiative 1491, is the name. This ballot initiative is a measure to prevent violent acts by creating something lawmakers are referring to as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPO). This legislation was introduced in the Washington Legislature during the 2015 Legislative Session as House Bill 1857. HB 1857 died in committee without ever seeing a floor vote. But now it is back for the people to decide on.
I-1491 allows people who have no specific expertise, and who may be mistaken, to seek an ERPO. Under the initiative’s text, “family and household members” are considered valid petitioners for an ERPO. “Household member” can even mean a former roommate. Not even one presently living with you. And with this ERPO, you may have your guns taken from you because someone claims to not feel safe. Whether they truly are in danger or not, the decision may not even go to a court for a decision. That means that your second amendment rights are no longer yours.
These are “permanent” orders, that would be issued after a short hearing, and if okayed by the court, I-1491 would require the surrender of concealed pistol licenses as well as the seizure of all firearms by law enforcement. The findings the court is required to make are vague and subjective, and the basis on which findings can be made often include lawful behavior (e.g., consuming alcohol, buying guns, etc.), hearsay, or prior incidents in which the state did not sustain its own burden of proof (e.g., prior arrests not leading to prosecution or conviction, prior allegations of violence not leading to arrest or official action, etc.).
Luckily, this is not just for the state legislature to decide. It is for all of you. No more in a democracy is your power your own, than these ballot initiatives. Your vote matters, your friends’ votes matter, and anyone that you can talk to in the whole of the state’s vote matters. So I encourage you to look into this Ballot Initiative 1491 and tell your friends what it is really about. Because you’re likely not going to hear about it anywhere else.