Some Thoughts on I-1639 and its Fraudulent Character

Mass shootings make the news on a regular basis - it’s hard not to look at yet another social reject violently expressing his (yes they are all men) pain and anger and murderous rage by shooting random people as a prelude to his own death. And although you are 98 times more likely to die in an automobile accident than in a mass shooting (in 2016 there were 37,461 automobile deaths and 383 mass shooting deaths), the emotional impact of a mass shooting defies logic and reason and so the cry goes up: “We have to do something!”. And since the social problems that create all these socially-alienated young men are complex and not easily analysed let alone solvable, the easy solution is to make laws to keep guns out of their hands. At least that’s the ostensible reason for them and the stated reason for I-1639. And what reasonable person would oppose reasonable regulation of gun ownership?

But, as in all things, the devil is in the details. I would urge you to read the full text of the initiative linked above - it is full of provisions that seem to be mostly an imposition on the law-abiding, but do little to keep assault weapons out of the hands of those determined to have them. The first is what it purports to regulate, which is “Semiautomatic assault rifles”. If you, like me, had a 22 rifle as a boy (I spent many happy hours plinking cans and bottles and the occasional rat at the dump), you will be surprised to learn that the authors of I-1639 consider that your 22 cal. rifle is defined as a “semiautomatic assault rifle”. And “assault rifles” are BAD BAD BAD and Scary Scary Scary. So the 22 cal. rifles from American manufacturers such as Savage , Remington , Mossberg, Marlin, and Ruger that millions of Americans learned to shoot with, if this thing passes, will only be available to people who are over 21, and apply and pay for for a permit from the Sheriff, and submit to an FBI background check, and every year thereafter have to pay to renew this permit. Nope, young hunters, your plinking rifle is just too dangerous for you, little person, because we say it’s a scary bad assault rifle.

This is just so dishonest and so exploitive of emotion over reason that this alone should disqualify I-1639.

There are other arguments against I-1639. In legal filings opposing it, B’ham local Joe WIlson makes Constitutional arguments, and asserts that the “fees” outlined in the Initiative are in fact taxes. Here’s his second filing. The NRA also filed a brief in opposition that expounds on the second and fourteenth amendment issues and also states the following: “Parts of the ballot description “are impermissibly designed to prejudice a voter in favor of the measure by omitting key information and using language designed to sway an uninformed voter””. And this is the key to why the authors of I-1639, rather than being honest and stating that the measure would apply to all semi-automatic rifles, misrepresented what they were up to by inserting the emotive and redundant “assault rifle” description.

I suppose it should not be a surprise that in the political world, political actors use emotive issues for their own ends. And that they lie and misrepresent facts in order to mislead people. But this thing is so ham-handed that it seems to me that it will benefit the right much more than the left. That (Dem) AG Ferguson has already endorsed the thing (quite improperly I think since it is his office that reviews all initiatives) leads me to believe that the Dem brain trust thinks it will be of benefit to them. I think this is laughable but we shall see.

Just consider the Canadian experience with the long gun registry, which was the Liberal government’s knee-jerk response to the mass murder of female students by Mark Lepine. It was ill-founded, costly, and ineffective, made Minister Allen Rock a political non-entity, and ultimately lost the Liberals the government to the Conservatives, who made abolishing the long gun registry a campaign issue and to their credit eliminated this costly imposition on the law-abiding.

This I-1639 will get conservative people “up in arms” (sorry about the pun) across the State - good work, Paul Allen and Nick Hanauer - your millions contributed to I-1639 might just be a boon to the Republicans.

About David Camp

Citizen Journalist • Member since Jul 12, 2009

David Camp is a cpa (Canada'86; USA'96) and MBA (Schulich'88) who toiled thirty years in the corporate salt mines, counting beans and telling stories to the auditors and whatnot. Now [...]

Comments by Readers

Steve Harris

Sep 01, 2018

David, thanks for the informative article.  I agree that the term “Assault Rifle” is being used only to cause an emotional reaction.  At the very least, a rifle designed to use rimfire* ammunition should be excluded from any discussion about limitations on firearm access as I don’t believe any have been used in any of the all-too-often mass shootings we’re seeing these days. 

*rimfire cartridges don’t have the typical round primer in the bottom of the cartridge and are predominately .22 cal.  These cartridges have been around since the 1800’s and were originally designed for the shooting galleries you used to find at carnivals. They were never designed to kill or maim humans and are used in the Olympics in the competitive shooting events. 




David Camp

Sep 01, 2018

Thanks, Steve, for the law enforcement perspective. Like all deceptive advertising, this thing relies on the ignorance of its target to succeed, and we need more voices to inform voters of the lie at the heart of I-1639. That State A-G Ferguson has improperly (IMHO) endorsed it is very disappointing and in my opinion an indictment of his judgment and maybe his character.