Voters consider gun initiatives

Colt Sweetland, News Editor

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Washington voters will vote on initiative I-594, which would expand background checks on the sale of guns to anyone in the state, and initiative I-591, which would prevent such expansion.

Residents have the option to approve both initiatives, but that would effectively cancel out each initiative.

Todd Schaefer, professor and chair of the department of political science, said if I-594 is approved, its opponents may ask the state Supreme Court to overturn it.

“[Opponents of I-594] have the legitimate federalist argument that if it’s a national right it should be a national standard,” Schaefer said.

Due to the importance of these initiatives for Washington state, Schaefer said it is necessary that voters become informed before casting their ballots.

“I think people should probably research these [initiatives] and decide where they stand,” Schaefer said.

One of the main criticisms of initiatives proposed to become laws in the state are that they can be misleading and not properly explain the entirety of the proposed initiative, Schaefer said.

“The sad thing about these initiatives and direct votes, in my opinion, is that you could be in favor of the issue, but depending on how it’s written, it may not be a good idea to vote for it,” Schaefer said.

If one of the initiatives passes, Schaefer said that the state would implement it and watch it for two years, then the legislature has the ability to change it.

“If students are unsure about the initiatives, they should either not vote for them or vote no, because that keeps either from being implemented,” Schaefer said.

Stefan Kiehn, senior psychology major, said that it is currently too easy for people to have access to guns, and that his vote for I-594 would help close loopholes.

“I’m voting yes because I just feel like it’s way too easy right now to have access to guns,” Kiehn said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction, though overall, it’s a mental health issue as well.”

The trouble with initiatives such as I-594, Kiehn said, is that criminals would find a way to access guns regardless of current laws.

Central students should care about these upcoming initiatives in light of recent shootings that have occurred, Kiehn said.

“More and more people are hearing about [shootings], and I feel that it’s important that some sort of legislation is in place,” Kiehn said.

Since Central is a federally funded university and there is a federal law preventing the possession of guns on campus, Schaefer said that the initiatives would not directly affect Central students in that aspect.

“Regardless of the outcome, [the initiatives] are not going to change the policy we have here,” Schaefer said.

According to a poll published by the Seattle Times, public support for I-594 is at 60 percent and support for I-591 is at 39 percent.

Incredibly, 22 percent of those polled said they would vote yes on both. If both initiatives pass, the Legislature or the courts would have to resolve the issue.

James Huckabay, faculty legislative representative and emeritus professor of Geography, wrote a column published in the Daily Record arguing “Haven’t we seen over lifetimes of working our Constitution and Bill of Rights that we will never change criminal behavior by criminalizing lawful behavior?”