Advocates file state gun-control initiative

OLYMPIA — Advocates seeking to expand the use of background checks on gun sales submitted a Washington state ballot initiative Tuesday, taking a new approach after both federal and state lawmakers passed on similar proposals.

The plan would require background checks for online sales and private transactions, such as those that occur at gun shows. The checks would be conducted at federally licensed firearm dealers, where people already must undergo such scrutiny before purchasing a new weapon.

Supporters said the measure wouldn’t stop all gun violence but would prevent people who shouldn’t have guns —criminals and the mentally ill — from easily acquiring them. They contended that the public is ready to push ahead with the idea.

“This issue is gaining traction,” said Cheryl Stumbo, who was wounded during the 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation in Seattle. “We’re seeing more and more incidents, more and more deaths, and the public is paying attention.”

Washington state lawmakers had considered a similar measure earlier this year, but it didn’t pass either the House or the Senate. The initiative does not include some of the exemptions that lawmakers had been considering. For example, law enforcement officers or people who have concealed pistol licenses still would have to go through background checks on private transactions under the initiative.

Zach Silk, a campaign manager with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said proponents wanted to ensure that the measure was simple, without a lot of caveats that would prevent the measure from working.

“We wanted to make sure it was the most effective bill,” Silk said. The initiative does provide exemptions for transactions between family members, temporary use of a borrowed gun and the purchase of antique or relic guns.

Initiative proponents need to collect about 246,000 valid signatures before Jan. 3 in order to qualify. If it does get enough signatures, lawmakers will have the option of adopting the measure. Otherwise it will be on the ballot in November 2014.

The ballot measure opens a new front in the effort to expand background checks that began in earnest following the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. While advocates have been successful in some states like Connecticut and Colorado, they have struggled in Congress and other states.

Gun control measures have had mixed results on the ballot. In 1997, Washington voters widely rejected a plan that would have required handgun owners to pass a safety course. After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 in suburban Denver, voters in Colorado and Oregon approved ballot measures the next year to require background checks for buying weapons at gun shows.

Initiative sponsors believe they have enough support this year. They’ve raised more than $800,000 already — more than half the amount they expect to need for gathering signatures. Meanwhile, an independent Elway Poll conducted earlier this year found that 79 percent of registered voters in Washington state supported background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.

A Washington state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

More in Local News

Police seek well-traveled pickpockets after thefts here

Images and video have been released after thefts in Everett, Lynnwood and elsewhere in the metro area.

4 years later, grieving Oso families remember the mudslide

The ceremony was held near a cedar grove of 43 trees which represent the 43 people killed in 2014.

Retired Naval officer Doug Roulstone to run for state Senate

The Republican will challenge incumbent Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in the 44th District.

Families announce plans for an Oso mudslide memorial

Visitors from throughout the world visit the site of the 2014 slide, which killed 43 people.

Police seek man after stabbing and robbery south of Everett

A convenience store clerk was slashed by a knife-wielding man at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

Bill aims to curb the filing of campaign finance complaints

It would give the Public Disclosure Commission greater discretion in resolving violations.

Suspect identified in break-in and shooting

He fired one round into a television and more shots when an occupant tried to confront him outside.

She was a graceful partner to Everett’s favorite son

Helen Jackson was remembered Saturday as a woman of spirit and sparkle, warmth and commitment.

Crews completing “ missing link ” in the Interurban Trail

212th Street SW will be modified and the trail realigned along the north side.

Most Read