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Big push beginning for Wash. gun control initiative

Washington's dueling initiatives. The Seattle Times supports the massive, complicated one on the right for more gun control.
Washington's dueling initiatives. The Seattle Times supports the massive, complicated one on the right for more gun control.
Dave Workman

The push is on for Washington State’s 18-page gun control scheme, Initiative 594, with the Seattle Times publishing a Jerry Large column this morning that strongly suggests the measure is about tracking firearms and that the “universal background check” at the heart of this measure is to reveal “when guns change hands, whether it’s a sale or a family member borrowing a gun, and makes failure to have a check done a crime.”

The Seattle Times has endorsed I-594, while dismissing alternative Initiative 591, which requires that background checks done in the state comply with a uniform federal standard. It does not, as gun prohibitionists have asserted, prevent background checks. It simply doesn’t allow the degree of privacy invasion, or the not-so-hidden expenses for loaning and then recovering one’s firearms, and it is not confusing.


Thoughts? Weigh in below in our reader response section.


Expenses? King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg acknowledged to the Seattle Times editorial board last month that the fee for transferring a firearm, regardless whether it is a sale or a mere loan, could run anywhere from $30 to $60, depending upon who does it.

When the newspaper endorsed I-594 on July 5, and opposed I-591 in the same editorial, it garnered 230 comments from readers. Most of those comments were against the newspaper’s position.

Says Large in a revealing comment about I-594 if it passes, “But we can track more guns than we do now, and that’s what the initiative is about.” Gun rights activists picked up on that remark because it confirms what they have believed all along: This measure isn’t about reducing crime, it’s about tracking who has what firearms, and that translates to registration.

His column has brought out some interesting reader responses, such as a Times reader identifying himself as “Hear Ye,” who says, among other things, “I will continue to identify the GOP and the NRA as immoral promoters of the senseless slaughter of human beings based on their insane/illogical concept of freedom.” This reader also promises to vote for restrictions on so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines.”

With the entry of Michael Bloomberg’s $50 million so-called “grassroots” gun prohibition effort – “Everytown for Gun Safety” – into the fray as an independent group supporting I-594, it seems increasingly clear that Washington is a test tube. Anti-gunners are watching to see how this initiative process works in the Evergreen State to push their gun control agenda, so they can try it in other states, using what they learn here, to pass similar measures where the public initiative process is available.

Essentially, the gun control agenda exemplified by I-594 is contagious, Washington gun rights activists suggest. They are hoping that gun owners across the country recognize the threat and pitch in to fight this effort and stop it before it spreads.

In the middle of this battle is veteran Bellevue gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He told the Seattle Times editorial board last month that he wrote I-591, while it has never been clear exactly who wrote I-594. He spent part of Saturday at the King County Republican picnic, explaining the differences between the two measures to people who own guns and some who don’t, but who do recognize that the Second Amendment is not a heavily-regulated government privilege.

The next three months are going to be challenging. As KOMO reported several days ago, I-594 proponents have already raised and spent more than twice the amount of money as the genuine grassroots group promoting I-591. Fighting wealthy anti-gun elitists is a daunting task, Gottlieb and his colleagues have repeated over the past several months, but what’s at stake makes this a fight worth waging.

It may become a bit easier now that Bloomberg has once again stuck his foot in his mouth, with a rather sneering remark about people in Colorado who dislike his brand of gun control.

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