The 2016 election season is finally over, and no matter who you voted for, that's got to feel nice to hear. But what did we learn? We know that there have been plenty of changes to our government and some of those changes are going to vastly affect gun owners. This article is going to take a look at those pieces and see just what you may be able to expect for the immediate future as well as what you may see in the forthcoming few years.
PRESIDENCY & CONGRESS
Starting at the top of the ticket, we as a nation went through a very long and bitter back and forth struggle for control of the White House as well as both houses of the U.S. Congress and as the dust settled on November 8th and into November 9th we finally saw a shape of what our country is going to look like for the next few years. It should be of no shock that Donald Trump has been elected as our 45th president, and due to his stances on gun control, that is a very positive thing for gun owners. While not in Mr. Trump's first 100 days plan he has stated that he wishes to implement a nationwide reciprocity for concealed carriers, making it able to carry concealed anywhere in the country, and for those that do to move about freely, without having to manage different state's rules about the subject.
The Congress will also follow the White House in being controlled by the Republicans, but there were losses in both houses. The Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, which will bring the number to 48 seats, to the Republicans 52. In the House of Representatives, Republicans lost 6 seats while the Democrats gained 5, and Independents gained 1 bringing the House to have 239 Republicans, 193 Democrats, and 3 Independents.
Historically, Republican control of our government has meant good things for gun owners, however just because it appears that a pro-gun president has been elected and a seemingly pro-gun Congress is available to work with him, gun laws in this country have been and continue to be mainly fought at the state level. So let's see how the states voted with…
UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
There were four major ballot initiatives with regard to firearms this year. The states of Maine, Nevada, California, and Washington all had questions that the citizens needed to answer and answer they did.
Let's start with the idea of universal background checks. A question that was raised in the states of Nevada and Maine as questions 1 and 3 respectively on each state's ballot.
Nevada's required that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check. Under the measure, a licensed dealer may charge a “reasonable fee” for his or her service.
That measure passed in Nevada by 50.45% to 49.55%. One of the closest races in the country. Less than 10,000 votes assured that these background checks are now a reality in the state of Nevada.
Better news out of Maine with question 3 however, as a similar plan to Nevada's was brought before the people but rejected 51.9% to 48.1%.
WEST COAST LOSSES
While the background checks of Nevada and Maine were similar to those passed in other states prior to the election, the remaining initiatives from California and Washington were brand new and perhaps some of the most immense gun control initiatives ever brought about in the United States.
We will start in California where Proposition 63, or the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative was passed by a 62.63% to 37.37% margin now makes it required for individuals who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a permit. The measure mandated dealers to check this permit before selling ammunition. The measure also eliminated several exemptions to the large-capacity magazine ban and increased the penalty for possessing them.
While in Washington state Initiative 1491 or the Individual Gun Access Prevention by Court Order was passed by the highest margin of any gun-related ballot initiative, 70.63% to 29.37%. Initiative 1491 is also perhaps the most restrictive of any of the gun control attempts made on November 8th. The text of the initiative reads as follows.
“Initiative 1491 authorized courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders,” which prevent a person from possessing or accessing firearms. The person would need to be considered a significant danger to himself or herself or others before an extreme risk protection order can be authorized. The measure empowered certain individuals, including police, family, and household members, to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order on a person. The initiative provided that petitions need to explain facts that demonstrate a reasonable fear of future actions by the person. It also required petitions to be filed under oath. It provided that extreme risk protection orders last one year. The measure permitted petitioners to ask for the order to be renewed for an additional year. The measure was designed to allow persons under order to request a hearing to argue that the order be terminated.
The measure also authorized courts to issue “ex parte extreme risk protection order,” which would hasten the process of prohibiting a person from possessing or accessing firearms. It was designed to require petitioners to demonstrate a significant and immediate risk to invoke an ex parte extreme risk protection order.”
This means that should someone claim that you are a person who should not have a gun, a judge, without due process, in the state of Washington may have the police come to your home and take your guns from you.
So as you may celebrate some wins on the national level, know that November 8th may not have been the victory that you thought it was. The people in Washington, California, and Nevada will have fewer firearms freedoms than they did before this election. Know that these types of laws are still out there and a way to avoid them continuing is to get out there and let your voices be heard at the local and state level because that is where some of the biggest damage was done on election night.
Stay safe out there everyone.