"Why take a bullet from the NRA when you can just put it on the ballot?" That's what one Olympia operative privately speculated about the reluctance of a handful of legislators to pull the trigger on a bill that would finally require background checks on most private sales of firearms. A floor vote in the House on HB 1588 was twice delayed yesterday as sponsors attempted to scrounge up the two or three final votes necessary for passage.
Public opinion polls show overwhelming support for the sensible measure, but several House members are suspected of balking out of fear of retaliation from the pro-gun lobby. There have been whispers that if the bill fails, a well-financed gun control initiative will be put on the ballot next fall. The politically smart move, some fence-sitters may be thinking, is to let voters decide the controversial issue.
Smart maybe, but awfully damn cowardly. I guess this is what comes from progressives failing to punish their elected officials as aggressively as the folks on the right do.
So what can you do to turn this around? "I don’t think that there is anything that folks outside can/need to do at this point," bill sponsor Representative Jamie Pedersen responded last night when I asked him whom I might rhetorically pummel in support of the measure. Pedersen says that he is continuing to work the votes, and insists that he remains "cautiously optimistic."
And speaking of Kochmar, it's important to note that so far only one Republican has signed onto this bill: Co-sponsor Mike Hope (R-44), a Seattle police officer. Whatever it is that Republicans claim they stand for, commonsense gun control legislation is clearly one thing the Republican Party party stands against.