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

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

Case unresolved: The noose at an Edmonds construction site

Though two were fired over comments about it, police were unable to determine who put it there.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Front Porch

EVENTS Teen Night at the Schack The next free Teen Night is… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Most Read