Backers of an initiative to close loopholes on background checks for gun buyers have won ballot title language more to their liking. Judge Christopher Wickham approved final language for Initiative 594's title late Friday in Thurston County Superior Court, including references to criminal background checks and public safety.
The petitions are now on the street, according to Christian Sinderman, a political consultant for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility's campaign.
As Brian M. Rosenthal of the Times reported earlier today, the initiative to the 2014 Legislature is expected to land on the November 2014 ballot along with I-591, which Protect Our Gun Rights is backing. The latter measure says it would be unlawful for government to confiscate guns, and it would bar background checks on a firearm recipient “unless a uniform national standard is required.”
The Office of the Secretary of State reports that each measure needs 246,372 valid voter signatures by Jan. 3 to qualify for consideration by the Legislature.
If either makes that target, lawmakers could either adopt one or both measures, let one or both go to the November ballot or offer alternatives to one or both.
The language in I-594 had been in dispute and gun rights activists went to court to change the wording. Here's what I-594 will say on the ballot, if its backers are able to collect about 325,000 voter signatures and qualify it – as per Wickham's ruling:
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 594 concerns background checks for firearm sales and transfers.
Concise Description: This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exemptions.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes or No.
Ballot measure summary: Current law requires criminal and public safety background checks before purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. This measure would extend this requirement to most firearm purchases and transfers in Washington, with exceptions, including transfers within families, temporary transfers for self-defense and hunting, and antiques. Licensed dealers would conduct the background checks and could charge a fee. Additional time would be allowed for pistol purchases. Violation of these requirements would be a crime.