SEATTLE — A group of gun rights advocates announced plans Thursday for a ballot initiative that would prohibit confiscation of firearms and would prevent Washington from adopting background checks that go beyond the federal standard.
“Our strategy is to protect gun rights,” said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation.
The effort is clearly a reaction to the gun control initiative that was announced a few months ago that seeks to implement universal background checks and close the “gun show loophole.”
Gottlieb’s initiative would tie the state’s background check program to the federal standard. So, given that the feds don’t require checks at gun shows or with other private sales, then Washington state wouldn’t be able to do that either.
“If it’s not a national standard,” said Gottlieb, “people are going to go to Idaho and buy a gun. They are going to go to Oregon and buy a guy and bring it back anyway. The bottom line is that if it’s not a national standard, it really isn’t workable.”
Opponents argue it’s an attempt to hamstring the state when it comes to gun control.
“It’s a cynical effort, because they know that Congress is farther behind the people of Washington state in adopting these common sense protections,” said Christian Sinderman of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
The pro-gun initiative would also prohibit the state from confiscating any firearms without due process. Leaders want to make sure that whatever laws are passed, whatever gun bans are approved, at the federal or local level, that no one has their firearms taken away.
“They are going with what they can try and get away with right now, but their ultimate goal is to confiscate firearms,” Gottlieb said. “We know that, that’s where the anti-gun rights movement is, so we’re protecting against that.”
Sinderman says that fear is unfounded.
“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” he said. “There is absolutely no risk of law-abiding people losing their firearms in Washington state or other places.”
The Alliance’s initiatives, he says, “is only about closing loopholes and background checks.”
With two gun initiatives likely to be on the 2014 ballot, Washingtonians are in for a very high-profile, very expensive and probably very confusing gun debate as these two efforts vie for votes.