Politics blog

I-591: Background-checks battle joined as gun-rights backers turn in last of 350,000 signatures

OlympianJanuary 3, 2014 

Backers of a gun-rights initiative to the Washington Legislature reported turning in another 9,169 petition signatures on Friday in support of Initiative 591. That brought the measure’s total support to an estimated 350,000 signatures, said Alan Gottlieb, manager for the Protect Our Gun Rights campaign that is running the initiative.

I-591 would bar a broadening of background checks beyond current law except in the unlikely event a uniform federal standard was approved by Congress. It also bars confiscation of firearms without due process.

As we reported here on Thursday,  the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which supports rival I-594, turned in the last of an estimated 345,000 signatures one day earlier. I-594 requires background checks on virtually all gun sales

Both measures are initiatives to the 2014 Legislature and both met the Friday deadline for submitting signatures. Both also are presumed to have more than enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot, which is where partisans on both sides expect their fight to be waged.

“First of all I’d say we were proud we were able to turn that many signatures in at less money than anyone has spent to qualify an init in the last decade,” Gottlieb said, while noting that I-591 spent a little over half what the rivals spent to qualify. “That is because we had a really great grassroots effort.’’

Data on file at the state Public Disclosure Commission shows that the Alliance for Gun Responsibility raised $1.25 million and spent $1.2 million so far on I-594. Protect Our Gun Rights raised nearly $701,000 and spent just over $692,600 for I-591.

Gottlieb agreed with his rivals it is unlikely the divided Legislature will act to adopt either measure or present an alternative for the November ballot – which is where both initiatives will land without legislative enactment.

Gottlieb, who is a leader with two prominent gun rights groups, said he also expects a lot of money to flow into the campaigns on both sides and from out of state.

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