This is your democracy not at work. At a Walmart in Washington State, a table was gathering signatures for a petition, and from the looks of it you would think they were against a grocery tax bill or were against a bill that lowered the amount paid on car tabs. Yet hidden in plain sight was the name of a gun control bill, I-1639, that was sure to throw off the average citizen whose participation in politics amounts to them yelling at the 6 o’ clock news from their couch. Reports from this incident noted that there was no grocery tax bill or car tab bill petition in sight; only a gun control petition.
Looking closely at the bill itself, it was clearly written by politicians, and not gun-owning politicians at that. Take this gem for example from the bill:
“(ii) CAUTION: The presence of a firearm in the home has been associated with an increased risk of death to self and others, including an increased risk of suicide, death during domestic violence incidents, and unintentional deaths to children and others.”
It’s almost like they find firearms (which are objects) dangerous, especially when you have one at home! Interesting.
You can read the rest of the bill for yourself, and you’ll notice that while it doesn’t directly ban firearms, it consistently uses phrases like “assault rifles” and other politically motivated terms. Even worse, someone with no knowledge of guns would not immediately understand the significance of, say, a .357 magnum revolver still being legal, whose round is 37.5% larger than your standard .223 round (common among rifles); this bill ultimately seeks to limit access to rifles, even though when rifle and shotgun deaths are tallied together they rarely exceed 8% of the total deaths in comparison to handguns.
Nonetheless, this incident at Walmart is a travesty in the sense that this has the potential to limit an individual’s access to firearms, or at the least make the process take a long time, but on the other hand is this not a hilarious depiction of our supposed democracy? It’s unclear whether these signature gatherers were honest about what they had their peers sign in the end, but it can’t be ignored that the plausibility of rounding up conservatives to sign a petition against a tax bill can almost be considered a brilliant strategy.
Will this be a dirty campaign tactic we see more instances of, with both sides preying on the caricatures of the other? It’s also worth noting that this indeed violates Washington petitioning laws. The only way to truly protect yourself from this is to make sure you read before you sign, comment, or act on anything. Don’t jump the gun. Liberty is too essential for your human assumptions to damage.