The Liberal Gun Club strongly opposes Washington state’s ballot initiative 1491. Like the ACLU, we see this as a dangerous precedent to constitutionally protected due process law, putting not just this issue, but other due process proceedings at risk for violation.

Much like the no fly list and legislation that other states have been pursuing in recent years, these laws serve as a template to bypass our fellow citizens constitutional rights to due process with little oversight or forethought as to the unintended consequences.

As a matter of support, we find it was best put by the Washington State ACLU here:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has not taken an official position on Initiative 1491. However, the group does not support the initiative. In an e-mail from the ACLU to initiative sponsor David Combs, the organization stated:[11]

… While keeping guns out of the hands of people who pose serious risks to safety is a reasonable public safety measure, the ACLU’s role is to evaluate such measures by their impact on civil liberties, and we have concerns that the initiative has inadequate due process procedures. Further, these deficient due process procedures could set a bad precedent for other criminal justice processes.

  1. The initiative allows a broad and vaguely defined group of people (family, household member, police) to seek the protection order. A protection order can be issued based on vague criteria (“significant danger”) that a person is an “extreme risk.” The protection order can be obtained from a judge ex parte – without notice to the person being accused. This severely limits the ability of a person to challenge an order once it is entered.
  1. The initiative puts the burden of proof on the accused to show, after 12 months, that the order should be lifted. It is unclear how persons would prove their lack of danger. The concerns are compounded because of problems we’ve seen with other kinds of protection orders in WA: Although they are initially temporary, after a period of time, there are efforts to expand the scope of the orders to make them permanent, or to further abridge the due process provisions.
  1. The initiative requires recording the order in court databases, which are open to the public. A record showing that a person had gun rights taken away based on being an “extreme risk” may well haunt an individual for the rest of their life – regardless of rehabilitation – erecting barriers for them when they undergo a background check for employment, housing, etc.”[3]


We urge you to vote no on this issue. Not only is it a clear violation of due process, it fails to address the root causes of violence and risks an unwarranted long term impact on those who may be wrongly accused.