Dueling gun initiatives gather more support

OLYMPIA — Backers of an initiative campaign to require background checks on all firearm sales in Washington turned in another 95,000 petition signatures this week, but there are two gun initiatives to the Legislature that appear to have enough signatures.

A second group wants the state to limit gun background checks to whatever is the national standard. They also expected to bring the total signatures gathered for Initiative 591 up to 345,000 by the Friday deadline. That proposal also would stop confiscation of firearms without due process, The Olympian reported in Friday’s newspaper.

Both measures are proposals to the Legislature and both are expected to meet the signature requirements. They would be discussed in Olympia sometime after lawmakers return on Jan. 13.

Backers of I-594 already are looking beyond the divided Legislature, which failed to act on a background checks bill last year even in the Democrat-controlled House.

If lawmakers take no action both proposals would proceed to the November ballot. Zach Silk, I-594 campaign manager, said there is no middle ground between the measures, calling I-591 a misleading attack on background checks.

Silk spoke at the signature turn-in along with the Rev. Sandy Brown, a Methodist minister from Seattle, Cheryl Stumbo, who survived the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Seattle in 2006, and activist Denise Garcia, who collected signatures.

Data on file at the state Public Disclosure Commission shows that the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which backs I-594, has raised $1.25 million and has spent $1.2 million so far. Top donor is venture capitalist Nicolas Hanauer of Seattle.

Protect Our Gun Rights, which backs I-591, has raised nearly $701,000 and has spent just over $692,600. Top donor is the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which has given $280,000.

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