Opposing gun initiatives appear bound for ballot

The Seattle TimesJanuary 3, 2014 

After months of collection efforts, supporters and opponents of expanded background checks for gun sales appear to have come up with about the same number of signatures — and it’s more than enough to qualify both for the ballot.

Supporters of Initiative 594, which would require the checks for all sales, submitted some 95,000 signatures Thursday in Olympia. They had already turned in 250,000, bringing their rough total to 345,000.

Sponsors of Initiative 591, which would keep checks mandatory for sales by licensed dealers only, submitted 340,000 signatures in November and plan to turn in 5,000 more Friday, a spokesman said.

Friday is the last day to submit signatures. Just 246,000 valid ones are needed to qualify for the ballot.

The Secretary of State’s Office must officially certify the signatures.

If certified, both proposals would go first to the Legislature. If not approved by lawmakers — a likely outcome — the measures would go before voters in November.

Both initiatives were filed last spring, after a proposal to establish universal background checks failed in the Legislature.

In Washington state, it is rare to see two well-financed, proposed ballot measures related to one major issue. Records maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office show that competing initiatives have been on the same ballot a half-dozen or fewer times in state history.

With signature collection now behind them, spokesmen for both measures agreed on one thing: “Voters will clearly have a stark choice to make,” said Christian Sinderman of Initiative 594.

Initiative 591 spokesman Alan Gottlieb agreed. “It should be an interesting year,” he said.

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