The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is planning to deliver its first batch of Initiative 594 petitions to the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia this Wednesday at 9 a.m., while backers of the alternative measure, Initiative 591, will have a big push to gather signatures at this weekend’s Washington Arms Collectors gun show in Puyallup.
I-594 is the 15-page gun control effort backed by the well-financed Seattle-based WAGR, while I-591 is a one-page measure that requires background checks to comply with a uniform national standard, and it also prohibits government gun confiscation without due process. The measure may be read on the campaign website. I-591 has already garnered support from gun collectors, outdoorsmen and women, and some key law enforcement professionals.
WAGR’s Facebook page is touting its first petition delivery, but there is an acknowledgement that its push to bring more restrictions to the Evergreen State might be in trouble because of last month’s recall of two anti-gun state senators in Colorado. This column discussed that recall election, which tossed two key anti-gunners out of office for supporting gun control measures adopted earlier this year in the Centennial State.
The gun control group continues to demonize the National Rifle Association, which has taken no public position on the battling initiatives, and has not contributed to the I-591 effort. Yet WAGR seems intent on making NRA the bogeyman in the race, while support has actually come from the Washington Arms Collectors, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Hunters Heritage Council, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association.
There have already been hints that anti-gun billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may dump a lot of cash into the initiative battle here, despite the fact that his $350,000 contribution to thwart the Colorado recall did not bear fruit.
Washington, according to Andrew Rothman, vice president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance in Minnesota, is one of five states where Bloomberg will allegedly spend money to influence gun legislation in the next year. Rothman made that assertion during the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference in Houston, Tex. The other states are Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada and Minnesota.
A spokesman for WAGR told the Associated Press that the group may not have enough signatures to qualify just yet, but it is “excited about where we are.”
"We want to assess where we are in terms of actual numbers and use this as an opportunity to demonstrate the incredible support for the measure and help us build momentum through the fall," said WAGR spokesman Christian Sinderman.
More than 246,000 valid signatures are required to qualify either initiative for presentation to the Legislature in January.