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

Designed for special emergencies, texting 911 widely misused

The majority of texts dispatchers receive are better handled by calling, a SNOPAC official says.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Arlington woman dies 4 days after Marysville crash

She was on the northbound onramp from Fourth Street to I-5 when her pickup hit a tree and fence.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Everett’s lawsuit against maker of OxyContin can proceed

Purdue Pharma says it’s not liable for the impacts of opioid addiction and wanted the case tossed.

Most Read