SEATTLE — Supporters of an initiative to forbid universal background checks on gun sales in Washington state beyond the federal requirements have turned in their first batch of petitions to qualify for the 2014 ballot. Backers of Initiative 591 say they’ve gathered 340,000 signatures, more than enough to send the measure to voters.
I-591 would make it illegal for any government agency to require background checks beyond federal standards. The initiative would also prevent the government from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, insists that I-591 is not meant to eliminate background checks. He accuses gun prohibitionists of waging a war of disinformation. “They would have the public believing that there currently are no background checks,” Gottlieb said in a post on the committee’s website. “We have federal and state checks in place, and we are going to protect those procedures with I-591.”
The gun-rights initiative was filed in response to a competing ballot measure, I-594, which would establish background checks for all public and private gun sales in Washington state. Both initiatives are expected to go before the 2014 Legislature and, if lawmakers don’t approve, to the November 2014 ballot, according to The Seattle Times.