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View Full Version : Why don't we put [something] on the ballot? Initiatives and Amendments


Librarian
02-23-2009, 12:09 PM
California once had this neat political tool, generally called 'initiative and referendum'. In theory, it allowed The People to go around a recalcitrant government and enact some kind of reform.

1978's Jarvis/Gann "People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_13_(1978)) campaign, AKA "Prop 13" is an example where, at least technically, that theory worked as expected (the actual results of that are arguable as to benefit).

The structure of the tool still remains; the California Secretary of State's web site, http://www.sos.ca.gov/ , has an information page on initiatives at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/how-to-qualify-an-initiative.htm.

Anyone can see the current list, for the upcoming [2012] election, at
http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/qualified-ballot-measures.htm, and there is a lot of historical information at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/resources-and-historical-information/history-california-initiatives/ (Update for 2015)

Initiatives seem to appear all the time. Some win, some lose. The Legislature puts several of them on the ballot; other than that, it is usually union or corporate interests that do it.

As painful as it is to say, in this environment, gun owners are definitely the little guys.

A really thorough treatment of why that's important is a book-length document at the Center for Governmental Studies (http://www.cgs.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=5&Itemid=72).

The bottom line?
The era of the volunteer-run initiative is over in California...
and has been since 1982, the last time a volunteer initiative made it to the ballot.

A Bit of History about Gun-related Ballot Measures

First one I can find is in 1976.

Below, “(S)” means a Statute was proposed, “(CA)” means a Constitutional Amendment was proposed.


1976 - - Handgun Regulation (S) - - failed to qualify

1980 - - Concealable Firearms (S) - - failed to qualify

1982 - - Guns (S) (Prop 15 (http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_15,_Handgun_Registration_In itiative_%281982%29)) - - - - qualified - - - - rejected

1984 - - Firearms (CA) - - failed to qualify

1986 - - Firearms (CA) - - failed to qualify

1987 - - Ownership of Firearms (CA) - - withdrawn

1989 - - Ownership of Firearms (CA) - - failed to qualify

1990 - - Firearms Regulation (S) - - failed to qualify

1991 - - Firearms Ownership (CA) - - failed to qualify

1994 - - Gun Control. Assault/Military-Style Weapons Ban (S) - - failed to qualify

1996 - - Felonies Involving Firearms. Mandatory Additional Prison Terms (S) - - withdrawn

1996 - - Felonies Involving Firearms. Mandatory Additional Prison Terms (S) - - failed to qualify

1996 - - Firearms. Right to Possess and Carry. Penalties for Criminal Use (CA/S) - - failed to qualify

1997 - - Arms and Ammunition. Unrestricted Personal Possession and Use (CA) - - failed to qualify

1998 - - Right to Possess and Carry Firearms. Penalties for Criminal Use (CA) - - failed to qualify

2000 - - Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CA) - - failed to qualify

2001 - - Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CA) - - failed to qualify

2004 - - Right to Keep and Bear Arms. (CA) - - failed to qualify

2011 - - Concealed Firearms (S) - - failed to qualify

2013 - - Firearms Regulation. (CA) - - failed to qualify

Out of 20 items submitted, somehow related to guns, just 1 actually qualified for the ballot – that is, just 1 collected sufficient valid signatures.(updated 2015)

Historically, since 1912, 3 of 4 proposed measures failed to qualify, and of the qualified, 2 of 3 were rejected. From 1976 through 2010, just 14.5% of submitted measures qualified, and for the first 10 years of the 21st century, it has been just 11.1% successful.


Here's the Secretary of State's Campaign Financing page for ballot measures:
http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Measures/

Look at the sponsors. Look at the money spent to propose and oppose.

Try to look dispassionately at the current public climate in California: most people do not care about guns.

Guns are not a 'pocket book' issue.

Guns have a negative image in our media. That provides free anti-gun advertising.

A good portion of California gun owners - present Calguns company excepted! - just want to be left alone*. There's a strong aversion to 'getting on lists' and 'attracting attention'. Signing up to support a ballot measure, even registering to vote, is often rejected. So, whatever the real numbers of gun owners in California, their interests are diverse; 'gun owners' are not a political force - gun ownership does not unite us.

Barring our own unpredictable pro-gun event on the scale of Patrick Purdy or Virginia Tech, some huge emotion-changing, if-only-they'd-had-guns-they'd-have-been-OK thing, public support for the kinds of changes in gun laws most Calgunners would like to see just is not there.

See also this story from the 3/23/2012 Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_20233763/california-ballot-initiative-would-make-college-free-residents?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com California's century-old ballot initiative process was created to counter the powerful interest groups thought to be controlling the state government, said John Matsusaka, president of the University of Southern California's Initiative and Referendum Institute. In practice, he said, the great number of signatures required and the short time frame in which to gather them -- about five months -- make it nearly impossible for even the most well-organized of citizen groups to succeed without a trove of cash and an army of paid signature gatherers.

So, because
the public is not on our side
the media is against us
gun owners are not a powerful bloc
ballot measures are extremely expensive
the initiative process really doesn't work for 'the people' any more
- that is, because the current conditions are just wrong, trying to get some pro-gun measure on a ballot isn't helpful.

That sucks, but that's real.

It might be possible to change 3. It's possible, I think, to reduce the impact of 2 (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=141665) and move to change 1. But until we change 1 and 3, no ballot measure we would like has a chance to pass.

(* I'm sure quite a number of Calgunners would also like to be 'left alone', but being here shows at least some realization that gub'mint isn't going along with that.)

CCWFacts
02-23-2009, 12:15 PM
I actually wish the mods here would ban these "why don't we put ____ on the ballot" threads. Or just put up a standard notice of why it's such a mistake and then lock the thread.

They are coming up more and more frequently and the idea is just as bad as it ever was.

Cypren
02-23-2009, 1:27 PM
I actually wish the mods here would ban these "why don't we put ____ on the ballot" threads. Or just put up a standard notice of why it's such a mistake and then lock the thread.

Why don't we put that on the ballot? :D

timmyb21
02-23-2009, 3:28 PM
I actually wish the mods here would ban these "why don't we put ____ on the ballot" threads. Or just put up a standard notice of why it's such a mistake and then lock the thread.

They are coming up more and more frequently and the idea is just as bad as it ever was.Why is it a bad idea? This makes you sound like you're saying we should give up or leave it for someone else to deal with. What should we be doing?

Kid Stanislaus
02-23-2009, 3:44 PM
Why is it a bad idea?


'Cuz we'd get our butts kick REALLY BAD and that would kill forever the chance of getting "shall issue" CCW in the state. I'm not convinced its ever going to happen anyway but putting a measure on the ballot would be a grave mistake. If we ever get it done here it'll be thru the courts. Don't hold your breath.

CCWFacts
02-23-2009, 3:46 PM
Why is it a bad idea?

Because if someone here started some effort to do a ballot initiative, what would happen is a lot of well-meaning people would spend a lot of their time collecting signatures and would still end up with about 5% of what they need to get it on that ballot. That means that 100% of the time they put into it would be wasted. There are so few of us (RKBA activists) in this state that we must be efficient with our time and resources. Investing time and resources into something which can't even possibly make it onto the ballot is something we absolutely cannot afford to do.

This makes you sound like you're saying we should give up or leave it for someone else to deal with.

No, we just shouldn't do it. Do you have $3mil to hire enough paid signature gatherers to get something onto a ballot? Didn't think so, and I don't either. And that's how much it costs to do it. And the NRA doesn't have a spare $3mil sitting around either, to blow on an initiative which will not win.

What should we be doing?

GOOD QUESTION! I can make a long list of things that are not a waste of time:


Take a non-shooting friend out to shoot for the first time
Join the NRA, and get your friends and family to do the same
Get a non-res CCW from UT or FL, and get your friends or family to do the same
Talk to a city council candidate in your city about CCW. I have, in one of the most ultra-liberal cities on this planet, and have gotten positive responses.
If you're in a position to, run for city council
Attend an NRA members' council meeting
Send a letter to your assembly or state senate reps
Meet in person with city council members and ask about CCW, or meet with your assembly rep and ask about gun issues
Take a non-shooting friend out to shoot for the first time. Oh did I mention that before?


ALL of these things are productive and will get us somewhere.

Remember, with a ballot initiative, if it's one single signature short of the required amount, it doesn't get on the ballot and all the effort that went into it is completely wasted. And none of ours would get even close to enough signatures; they will get to about 5% probably, if it's an all volunteer effort.

Our volunteer time is limited so spend it wisely, not foolishly.

bwiese
02-23-2009, 3:47 PM
Why is it a bad idea? This makes you sound like you're saying we should give up or leave it for someone else to deal with. What should we be doing?


1. You have a spare mil or two for paid professional signature gatherers?

2. You got $70mil - $100 Million to have a chance at running an initiative?

If you don't have #1, you can't even get to #2.

If you have #1 and can't run a statewide campaign, you lose. That's a disaster.



This money is far better spent on court fights, which we are winning/can win/will win.

Harrison_Bergeron
02-23-2009, 5:18 PM
I actually wish the mods here would ban these "why don't we put ____ on the ballot" threads. Or just put up a standard notice of why it's such a mistake and then lock the thread.

They are coming up more and more frequently and the idea is just as bad as it ever was.

Did you read the OP?

stag1500
08-03-2010, 11:36 AM
We tried to get enough signatures 2 years ago to get a "2nd amendment" added to our state constitution, we failed by a LOT of signatures. Unless you have paid signature gatherers, you don't have a snowballs chance of even getting on the ballot, let alone getting the exposure to get people to vote in favor.

Now that we live in a post-McDonald world, the "2nd Amendment" is de facto part of our state constitution.

bigstick61
08-03-2010, 11:43 AM
Overall the whole initiative process and directly democratic elements of our form of government do far more harm than good and California has suffered for it and as others have mentioned, even if you could get something on the ballot your plan would certainly backfire.

nick
08-03-2010, 12:02 PM
Now that we live in a post-McDonald world, the "2nd Amendment" is de facto part of our state constitution.

And it got there through courts. Which is one of the points of this thread.

nick
08-03-2010, 12:07 PM
Because if someone here started some effort to do a ballot initiative, what would happen is a lot of well-meaning people would spend a lot of their time collecting signatures and would still end up with about 5% of what they need to get it on that ballot. That means that 100% of the time they put into it would be wasted. There are so few of us (RKBA activists) in this state that we must be efficient with our time and resources. Investing time and resources into something which can't even possibly make it onto the ballot is something we absolutely cannot afford to do.



No, we just shouldn't do it. Do you have $3mil to hire enough paid signature gatherers to get something onto a ballot? Didn't think so, and I don't either. And that's how much it costs to do it. And the NRA doesn't have a spare $3mil sitting around either, to blow on an initiative which will not win.



GOOD QUESTION! I can make a long list of things that are not a waste of time:


Take a non-shooting friend out to shoot for the first time
Join the NRA, and get your friends and family to do the same
Get a non-res CCW from UT or FL, and get your friends or family to do the same
Talk to a city council candidate in your city about CCW. I have, in one of the most ultra-liberal cities on this planet, and have gotten positive responses.
If you're in a position to, run for city council
Attend an NRA members' council meeting
Send a letter to your assembly or state senate reps
Meet in person with city council members and ask about CCW, or meet with your assembly rep and ask about gun issues
Take a non-shooting friend out to shoot for the first time. Oh did I mention that before?


ALL of these things are productive and will get us somewhere.

Remember, with a ballot initiative, if it's one single signature short of the required amount, it doesn't get on the ballot and all the effort that went into it is completely wasted. And none of ours would get even close to enough signatures; they will get to about 5% probably, if it's an all volunteer effort.

Our volunteer time is limited so spend it wisely, not foolishly.

A few more:

1. Donate money to the people who actually bring about the court cases beneficial to 2nd Amendment rights: CGF, SAF, NRA, and now CRPA. On SAF, NRA and CRPA, becoming a member isn't necessarily enough, as the legal action committees/foundations run off a different fund from the membership one.

2. Help support those cases by providing your time when needed.

3. Help defeating proposed bad laws by providing your time when needed.

4. Figure out some legal ways to destroy the antis. See, there's the fun part, too :)

Speaking of #4, I'm being derelict in my duties. I better get on it :(

Maltese Falcon
08-03-2010, 12:09 PM
I definitely agree "the public is not on our side".

Driving to my house at the end of a cul de sac and seeing the neighbors (who all pretty much keep to themselves) there are not any firearm owners in the entire block and would oppose easing of restrictions on RKBA.

.

command_liner
08-03-2010, 12:47 PM
There are many ways to approach the issue. You can run for office.
Better yet, you can support like-minded candidates that are already running
for office.

Like me, for example.
If you want to donate money, time, or effort, to put a pro-RKBA candidate
on the Fountain Valley City Council, please send me a PM.

curtisfong
08-03-2010, 2:07 PM
Another thing you can do: If you live in an district represented by an anti-gun democrat, write your reps and tell them that *as a democrat* and *one of their strongest supporters* and a *civil rights supporting liberal* that you support the RKBA as a civil right... and that you find their antigun sentiment both racist, and against your liberal ideals.

If you write in as a pro-gun conservative, your letter goes straight into the shredder.

gunsmith
08-03-2010, 3:52 PM
I have commented on cadaver threads b4- now I try to look at dates

N6ATF
08-03-2010, 6:11 PM
If you write in as a pro-gun conservative, your letter goes straight into the shredder.

If you write in as a member of the International Criminals Union, your letter goes straight up on their altar of victim disarmament.

motorhead
08-04-2010, 11:36 AM
AND failed initiatives do more harm than good. it gives our opponents quasi statistics that we are a minority/fringe. esapecially if they actually make the ballot and are defeated. those results can be forever drug out to say the majority opposed. bad juju!

pitbull30
02-26-2013, 7:18 PM
CCWFACTS: You said in your list " Get a non-res CCW from UT or FL, and get your friends or family to do the same"

Why? I would have sent a PM but I can't be the only one here wondering why that will help CA compared to other things.

Moonshine
02-26-2013, 7:37 PM
Wow I never knew the rate of success was that low!