Gun-control supporters to form lobbying coalition

OLYMPIA — Gun-control advocates in Washington state are forming a coalition to lobby state lawmakers, hoping to help usher passage of a plan to expand background checks.

Democratic consultant Christian Sinderman said Tuesday the new group will focus this year on supporting lawmakers who take difficult votes on the issue and organize public efforts to keep pressure on the Legislature.

“We’re hearing messages from legislators who want to be supportive that they’re nervous about their electorate and how this issue is perceived,” Sinderman said. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility will officially launch its work next week.

Gun buyers currently have to undergo a background check when they purchase a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Under a new bill, background checks would be extended to private gun sales, with supporters saying criminals can use that type of sale to bypass oversight.

The National Rifle Association has testified against the idea and has been pressuring lawmakers to reject the plan. The group sent out mailings recently targeting Republican Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle police officer who has worked to develop the background checks bill.

A version of the background checks proposal has passed out of a House committee. It faces probably the biggest test in the state Senate, where a committee that would handle the bill is led by firearm-friendly lawmakers who recently rejected some other gun proposals.

Sinderman said the group is bringing on a lobbyist and a campaign manager. He said there’s no discussion right now about pursuing a ballot measure.

Sinderman didn’t have numbers of how much has been committed to the effort so far.

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