New Poll Shows Washington Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Initiative 1491

SPD Chief Kathleen O'Toole speaking at the February launch rally for I-1491.

SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole speaking at the February launch rally for I-1491.

Yesterday, Raise Up Washington turned in over 360,000 signatures supporting their initiative to raise the minimum wage and introduce paid sick leave statewide. Today, another initiative traveled to Olympia to turn in some 330,000 signatures: the Alliance for Gun Responsibility took a major step toward getting Extreme Risk Protection Orders on the ballot this November.

What are Extreme Risk Protection Orders? As I reported back in February, Alliance Executive Director Renee Hopkins described them as a way to “allow family members and law enforcement officers… to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence of dangerous mental illness or a high risk of violent behavior.” Two of the deadliest shootings in Washington state history — the Jewish Federation shooting in 2006 and the Cafe Racer shooting in 2013 — could likely have been avoided had Extreme Risk Protection Orders been in place. This is the second time Washington voters will directly take on the NRA at the ballot box, after 2014’s successful Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases initiative.

And at the moment, things are looking good for I-1491 this November. A Public Policy Polling poll commissioned by the Northwest Progressive Institute in June asked 679 likely Washington voters how they’d vote on I-1491 if the election were held today. The results:

  • Yes: 73%
    • Definitely vote yes: 56%
    • Probably vote yes: 17%
  • No: 21%
    • Probably vote no: 11%
    • Definitely vote no: 10%
  • Not sure: 5%

As NPI’s Cascadia Advocate points out:

The overall “Yes” figure is certainly impressive (73%!), but what really stands out is that an outright majority of voters fall into the Definitely vote yes camp. That 56% number suggests that most Washingtonians are very enthusiastic about I-1491.

It’s obvious that the American people are sick of gun violence. And as the Democrats’ filibuster in the Senate and sit-in in the House have proven, NRA-funded Republican lawmakers are making changes impossible on the federal level. So states and cities are on their own right now when it comes to passing responsible gun laws. And this poll proves that voters are clamoring for the chance to face down the NRA at the ballot box. This is how national movements happen; it’s how same-sex marriage went from a city issue to a state issue to the law of the land. The public leads their elected officials, not the other way around.

But these poll numbers—as flat-out terrific as they may be—shouldn’t make you complacent. We’ve seen too many good politicians and ideas lose at the ballot box because voters couldn’t be bothered to actually come out and vote. It’s important to talk about I-1491 to friends and family. Share your support on social media. We shouldn’t be satisfied until this bill and others like it pass by landslide margins all across the country. We’ve got a long way to go, but at least we’re starting out on the right foot.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.