NEW YORK – After a night of electoral surprises, voters in three states – Nevada, Washington and California – enacted new, life-saving gun safety ballot measures, despite strong opposition from the gun lobby.
Given four opportunities across the country to pass gun safety ballot measures, voters did so three times: In Nevada, voters passed Question 1, the state’s background check initiative, and in Washington, voters approved Initiative 1491, the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order measure. In addition, California voters approved Proposition 63, which strengthens gun laws. The three victories follow the passage of a law requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales by ballot measure in Washington State in 2014. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were deeply involved in the Nevada and Washington State measures, investing financially and devoting its grassroots power to organizing voters in these in states.
“Voters and gun safety scored key victories in diverse states including Nevada and Washington, proving once again that the gun lobby may be able to control lawmakers, but it cannot bully voters,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We rallied unprecedented energy and enthusiasm from voters and we built an infrastructure that will be competitive for years to come. Lawmakers across the country should take note: The American people want common sense on guns – and when they get a chance to vote on it, they buck the gun lobby and say yes to safety.”
The win in Nevada marks an important turning point: Nearly half of Americans will now live in states that have closed the background check loophole. Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, eight have passed or strengthened background check laws, bringing the total number of states with comprehensive laws to 19.
“The NRA’s leaders tried to bully and mislead voters into opposing life-saving ballot measures, but gun safety prevailed in three states,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown. “These initiatives were a bright spot, showing what voters can accomplish when they use their voices and their votes. The passage of Nevada’s background check measure means that nearly half the country’s population now lives in states that have closed the background check loophole. Our grassroots army is on the march, and Moms Demand Action volunteers are committed to continue this work – the lives of our families and communities are on the line.”
Nevada voters approved Question 1 despite opposition from Nevada’s governor and attorney general, along with an aggressive and misleading campaign led by the NRA, which spent about $6.6 million in opposition to Question 1. The NRA’s spending in Nevada was its largest single investment this election after its record-breaking $30 million spent on the presidential election.
The coalition in support of Question 1 included law enforcement across the spectrum, gun owners, survivors, business leaders and labor, among others. Over the course of the campaign, hundreds of Nevada volunteers spent thousands of hours collecting signatures, calling and canvassing more than 150,000 households.
Initiative 1491, Washington State’s Extreme Risk Protection Order measure, passed with 71 percent of the vote. Similar to legislation already on the books in California, Connecticut and Indiana, the measure will empower law enforcement and family members to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if the person poses a danger to themselves or others. In 2014, Everytown and Moms Demand Action worked with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility to lead the winning campaign for I-594, Washington state’s background check ballot measure that won with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund was the largest donor to the I-594 campaign.
This election cycle, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund contributed $550,000 to the I-1491 campaign, making it the the second largest donor to the effort, and the Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action played a critical role in on-the-ground efforts to get the initiative on the ballot and educate voters about the policy. Volunteers with Washington Moms Demand Action collected more than 10,000 signatures in the signature drive to get I-1491 on the ballot and leading up to the election, volunteers made calls to Washington voters to help get out the vote in support of I-1491.