Immediately after the passage of I-594 in Washington, gun control groups announced their plans to bring anti-gun initiatives to the ballot in several other states. One state that they listed as a target was Nevada. According to some Nevada residents, petitioners seeking to bring “universal background checks” to the 2016 ballot have been common sights in the state for the past several weeks. Some of these have reported that many of the canvassers are pushy, rude, and aggressive as they hound Nevadans for the necessary signatures to bring their proposal to the ballot. It seems some of them may have worn out their welcome.
A gun control activist under the username “rbriser” recently shared this on Reddit:
I am employed by an agency that does canvassing for campaigns all over the west coast, most of which are left wing. Our most recent assignment is door-to-door petition work in Reno and Sparks in order to get an effect on the 2016 ballot that, if passed, would require background checks for unlicensed gun sales. My agency has brought in ~200 people on buses from Seattle, Portland, and Tacoma to try to push this through before the deadline on Wednesday.
Although I am unfamiliar with the Reno area, I came here expecting a high amount of opposition in the form of slammed doors and rude refusals. Nevada is a red state and even in uber-liberal Washington this is really just part of the job. What I found strange was the fact that they couldn’t just pay people in Reno to do this work. Why was our agency paying to bring people in from Washington and Oregon, 15-12 hours away?
Last night, during a 3-9pm shift, some things happened to my co-workers that have made me think that we were brought in because locals KNOW BETTER than to do liberal canvassing here. One woman was assaulted and mugged right after the sun went down in Sparks. This was only a couple of blocks from where my friend and roommate was working. The cops picked my friend up and told him to leave because they believed a group of people were riding around in a truck looking for canvassers to beat up. At least five of my co-workers were verbally assaulted or followed at night. One woman had a shotgun pulled on her at a door and was then followed by the gun-owner, who had the gun with him in his car. A black co-worker had a pistol pulled on him and put to his head at a door. I have been kicked out of neighborhoods by homeowners, mostly gated communities, screamed at, told to fuck off, and have been greeted by men behind doors holding knives defensively. I understand that no one likes to hear their doorbell ring in the middle of dinner, but we are only doing our jobs. We are not soliciting as we are not selling anything. Everything we are doing is perfectly legal within our constitutional right to free speech.
I opted out of the pm shift tonight because I legitimately fear for my safety and many others have done the same. Most of our problems came up when we started working in Sparks and, although the agency has claimed they are not sending people there anymore, I know of four people who had turf in that area this morning. Locals – what neighborhoods are considered unsafe here in Reno and Sparks? Where would you not want to find yourself alone with a gun control petition after dark? We need your help to protect ourselves while we continue to just do our jobs here. I would hate to see another person threatened or assaulted before I leave.
While it should be noted that the authenticity of his claims cannot be verified, this seems to be in line with what we have come to expect from those collecting signatures for gun control initiatives in states throughout the country. Based on subsequent comments, many Nevadans have been annoyed by the harassment and dishonesty shown by paid petitioners who have lurked near busy retail chains and knocked on doors for the past several weeks.
When people questioned his reason for participating in the canvassing, rbriser responded:
What people don’t seem to understand is that this. is. my. job. My employers expect a certain number of knocks and signatures at the end of my shift. I’m not just going to random neighborhoods, I am assigned a new neighborhood every night and given the names/addresses of specific registered voters who I am expected to talk to. I code these peoples’ responses in a company phone and it can all be tracked and monitored. I have to make a living just like everybody else here. If I don’t stick to my turf I can be fired.
I don’t think I am alone in thinking that political mercenaries like rbriser are among the saddest lot in society. Certainly other Redditors seem to agree. Somehow, I doubt the “I have to make a living” line is going to win anyone over when your livelihood is contingent on misleading them and attacking their rights.
Unfazed by the negative response, rbriser stuck to the anti-gun script like a pro (which technically, he is):
Many Nevadans certainly seem to be proud gun owners and hunters. I have spoken with a lot of them over the past week and some seem to shut down or react defensively as soon as I say gun control. I guess I don’t fully understand this response. If the measure passed, it would not hinder law abiding citizens from getting guns. It would only require unlicensed sellers to conduct the same background checks that licensed sellers already perform. You could still buy automatic weapons as long as you aren’t a felon, domestic-abuser, or person with severe mental illness. Why all the apprehension?
I covered these assertions weeks ago when discussing the I-594 initiative in Washington, but we really cannot talk about this enough. Rbriser and other petitioners have been telling people that this initiative will help to make sure gun buyers are not prohibited persons. Strictly speaking, this is correct. The law will ensure that law-abiding gun owners are not criminals (see the irony there?). What is even more important is the part canvassers do not share. The proposed initiatives render it illegal to share firearms with a friend while at the range.
With respect to such activities, Sec 3 (4)(f)(ii) of Washington’s I-594 allows for only the following:
[I]f the temporary transfer occurs, and the firearm is kept at all times, at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located.
In short, the only situations where firearms may be shared at the range are those where 1) the range is a formally established business, not simply private land and 2) the firearm in question is owned by the range. Sharing firearms for recreational purposes in any other setting will result in a misdemeanor conviction on the first offense and felony convictions for each subsequent violation. This is precisely why claims that the initiative only applies to sales are so disingenuous. This initiative is absolutely an affront to recreational shooting, which relies heavily on hands-on experiences to bring new shooters into the fold.
While I typically would not condone the sort of hostility faced by rbriser, I cannot say that I feel sorry for him. He and many others are making a living off of preying on voters’ collective ignorance. Nevada gun owners now have a fight on their hands and they will need the support of firearm enthusiasts everywhere to combat this sort of aggressive misinformation campaign.