Gun-rights groups deliver 340,000 initiative signatures

OLYMPIA – Supporters of an initiative to prevent universal background checks on private gun sales delivered petitions to the secretary of state today that may contain enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot next year.

Backers of Initiative 591 said they were turning in 340,000 signatures today and plan to add to the total before a Jan. 3 deadline.

Initiative 591 aims to keep the state from enacting a background check law that is stricter than the federal standard, which requires checks for sales by licensed dealers but not for most private transactions such as occur online and at gun shows. It also would block government confiscation of firearms without due process,

The measure is pushed by a coalition of gun-rights groups led by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which is based in Bellevue.

It was drawn up to counter Initiative 594, which would expand existing state law to require background checks for online and private sales.

Supporters of Initiative 594 turned in an estimated 250,000 signatures to the state elections office last month. They too intend to add to their total in the next few weeks.

Initiatives require at least 246,372 valid signatures of registered state voters to qualify for the ballot. The secretary of state suggests filing at least 320,000 signatures to provide a buffer for any duplicate or invalid signatures.

Both measures are initiatives to the Legislature, which means lawmakers can enact one or both in their next session or do nothing and send them on to the November 2014 ballot.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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