Residents of four states have another reason to get out and vote in this year’s election.
Maine, California, Nevada, and Washington all include initiatives on next week’s ballots to tighten gun control laws, the Public Broadcasting Service reports. In a departure from previous elections, no states have included initiatives to expand gun rights.
The ballot initiative strategy marks a turning point in gun control efforts in the United States. Ballot measures are often determined by money—whichever side spends the most on print, radio, and online advertisements usually wins. PBS reports that anti-gun groups are outspending their opponents in all four states.
In Maine and Nevada, voters will determine whether or not to mandate background checks for all private firearms transfers. A group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent millions in those two states. According to FollowTheMoney.org, $4,349,816 was raised in support of the measure in Maine and $15,709,488 was raised in Nevada. Opponents, meanwhile, only raised and $50,347 in Maine and $435,618 in Nevada.
In Washington, the ballot initiative would allow judges to seize firearms from individuals they deem to be a threat. The police, a family member, or a “household member” would simply have to convince a judge that a person is dangerous for his or her constitutional rights to be revoked. Nearly $4 million has been raised in support of the measure; $0 has been raised against it.
Predictably, California’s measure is the most draconian. Proposition 063 would, among other things, require anyone who purchases ammunition to first pass a background check. Over $4.5 million was raised in support of the measure, while $657,036 was raised in opposition.
Though massively outspent by out-of-state billionaires, the pro-gun community isn’t going down without a fight. Charles Rumsey III is the secretary of Penobscot County Conservation Association in Bangor, Maine, and his organization has been opposing the measure to expand background checks. “It’s a restriction on the freedom of the good guys,” he told PBS, voicing concerns that simply borrowing a rifle could place him in violation of the law.
The NRA has also funded opposition efforts in Maine and Nevada, but they haven’t been able to keep up with the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Seattle-based entrepreneurs like Nicolas Hanauer, who donated $1 million to the campaigns in Nevada, Maine, and Washington.
The numbers speak for themselves: if the pro-gun community wants to keep their constitutional rights and stop out-of-state fat cats from pushing their agenda, they’ll have to show up on Nov. 8. The gun rights movement has always been about the grassroots, and now is the time for those men and women to take a stand.