Politics blog

I-594: Backers turn in estimated 345,000 signatures for gun-buyer background checks

OlympianJanuary 2, 2014 

Rev. Sandy Brown and other backers of I-594's background checks speak after turning in the last of their petition signatures at the state elections offices on Jan. 2 in Olympia.

BRAD SHANNON — The Olympian

Backers of the Initiative 594 campaign to require background checks on all firearm sales in Washington turned in another estimated 95,000 petition signatures on Thursday, bringing their total filed to roughly 345,000. 

Backers of a rival Initiative 591 measure are expected to file another 5,000 signatures ahead of Friday’s deadline – bringing their total to 345,000 – for a measure to limit background checks to whatever is the national standard. I-591 also would bar confiscation of firearms without due process.

Both dueling measures are proposals to the Legislature, and both are expected to easily meet the requirement for 246,372, assuring each could be considered sometime after lawmakers go into session on Jan. 13. But backers of I-594 are clearly 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 would proceed to the November ballot where both sides appear to be organizing for an all out fight. I-594 campaign manager Zach Silk 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 Rev. Sandy Brown, a Methodist minister from Seattle, prime sponsor Cheryl Stumbo who survived the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Seattle in 2006, and activist Denise Garcia who collected signatures for the measure.

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

Protect Our Gun Rights, which backs I-591, raised nearly $701,000 and 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.

Stay tuned.

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