Of the initiatives on the November ballot in Washington, a proposed gun regulation has raised the most money. And no one has registered to oppose the measure, but that might be about to change.
Initiative 1491 is sponsored by the state Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which has raised more than $3.5 million in support of it.
The measure would allow people to obtain “extreme risk protection orders.” Those would prohibit someone from possessing guns if a judge deems them a risk to themselves or others.
David Combs is leading an effort against the initiative, albeit on a small budget. He’s created a website for his group, Know I-1941. And he bought some shirts and ties to wear to debates. Soon he’ll be filing paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission listing his handful of expenses.
Combs: “I’m working to file with the PDC within the next couple of days, so I’ll have a more accurate number, but it’s certainly under $1,000 at this point.”
He’s also hoping to put a “donate now” button on his website.
Combs is diagnosed as bipolar. He leads support groups and does advocacy for local chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The Washington chapter of NAMI is neutral on the initiative, but they share Combs’ concerns that the initiative singles out a person’s diagnosis as grounds for taking away firearms.
Combs: “If the description had been in the initiative a set of behaviors and left out mental illness, that would have been a much more appropriate and non-prejudicial approach and non-stigmatizing approach.”
Combs says the measure should be rewritten to take out references to mental illness and provide other safeguards to the person facing the order.
Marilyn Balcerak is the citizen sponsor of I-1491. She says she lacked the tools to keep guns away from her son, who had autism and was suicidal. Last year he shot his stepsister and himself. She says these protection orders would help many families where someone is suicidal.
Balcerak: “It’s not even about the mentally ill per se – it’s about, you’ve got a partner that lost his job and can’t find another one and is depressed. You just want to keep that method of suicide away from them while they’re in crisis so they can get the help that they need.”
Many of the donors to the initiative effort are the same funders who helped pass expanded background checks for gun purchases last year.