WA Private Sales Ban Referendum Shows
Danger of Putting Rights Up for Vote



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By Kurt Hofmann, November 5th, 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

By the time this is published, we will very likely know the fate of Washington Initiative 594, a voter referendum that would ban private gun sales (actually, private gun transfers--a much broader, and much more troubling--proposition) in the state of Washington. Unless the polling data is enormously off, the news is unlikely to be good for those who believe that the government has no business demanding to know anything about who is selling guns to whom, especially considering where any background check law has to to be heading toward.

If the referendum passes, it will have done so only with the help of millions of dollars pouring in from billionaires rabidly opposed to the egalitarian power sharing inherent to an armed citizenry. Kinda ironic, given the amount of overlap between "gun control" advocacy and those decrying the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision, for its supposedly corruptive effect of "money in politics."

This strategy appears to be far larger than Washington, with the World Net Daily reporting that former NYC Mayor, and eternal aspirant to Emperor of the Universe, Michael Bloomberg's "Everytown for Gun Safety" is already laying the groundwork for similar ballot initiatives in Nevada and Arizona:

[Bloomberg's] army of volunteers is already working to gather signatures for a similar ballot initiative in Nevada in 2015. Arizona is also among the states in his crosshairs for 2016, according to gun rights advocates.

This has also been noted by JPFO contributor David Codrea, who has indeed been warning of Bloomberg's shift of emphasis to state level "gun control" for well over a year--without many taking heed.

These developments have prompted AWR Hawkins, writing for Ammo Land, to ask, "Are Millionaire-Funded State-Level Initiatives the Next Phase of Gun Control?"

If so, it's a very dangerous new phase for gun rights advocates, because it would take the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and hold it hostage to the popularity contest of the vote. We live not in a "democracy," as we're so often told, but in a republic, in large part because the Founding Fathers had the wisdom to take certain policy options off the table--off limits no matter how popular they are. As John Adams reminds us:

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

To give to 51 percent of the people the power to vote away the rights of the other 49 percent--or even 99 percent, to vote away the rights of the remaining one percent--is not "freedom," but the exact opposite--the tyranny of the majority.

I have made this argument even when the ballot initiative would be a positive step for gun rights, as Missouri's Amendment 5 proposal was this summer:

But on the other hand, by subjecting the fundamental human right of the individual to the approval of the masses, by making legal exercise of that right conditional upon the popularity contest of a vote, this approach voluntarily surrenders the high ground inherent to defending a right that is truly unalienable.

To endorse bestowing on voters the power to vote for fundamental rights, is to lend the veneer of legitimacy to the power of the people to vote against them. With scores of billions of dollars in the hands of people desperate to trample those rights, and with scores of millions of low-information voters prepared to vote for whatever the most prevalent and slickest TV ads tell them to, this experiment with "democracy" may just prove John Adams right.

A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.

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