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Elway poll on dueling initiatives signals hard work ahead for gun advocates

The "dueling initiatives" battle over gun background checks is fast turning into an issue of money to pay for messaging.
The "dueling initiatives" battle over gun background checks is fast turning into an issue of money to pay for messaging.
Dave Workman

Gun control advocates got a boost Tuesday from the latest Elway Poll that found 70 percent of people will likely vote for Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure pushing so-called “universal background checks,” according to KOMO.

Meanwhile 46 percent support Initiative 591, the one-page measure that requires background checks to comply with a uniform national standard, the poll indicated. According to Elway, “In April, 72% intended to vote for (I-594). Opposition rose slightly from 19% to 22%.” During the same period, support for I-591dropped nine percentage points. It had been at 55 percent when a poll was taken in April. This new poll has a plus/minus margin of error of 4.5 points, according to the Portland Oregonian.


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What this means to supporters of I-591 – a coalition of competitive shooters, rank-and-file law enforcement, hunters and collectors – is that they have to work hard on two fronts: raise money and get their message out. They are being outspent almost two-to-one by I-594 backers, and with the entry of Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” $50 million New York-based lobbying group independently into the campaign, gun rights activists are clearly at a lopsided David v. Goliath disadvantage.

Opposition to I-591 has increased, quite possibly due to the high-profile incidents in Santa Barbara and at Seattle Pacific University. The latter incident was exploited almost immediately by anti-gun Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Another factor, again, is the disparity in campaign promotion. A couple of million dollars buys lots of exposure.

What is curious about today’s poll results is that nearly two-thirds of the 506 registered voters who were surveyed July 8-11 favored “more extensive background checks for gun sales,” KOMO reported. Yet the Santa Barbara killer passed three different background checks and three state-mandated waiting periods. He also killed three victims with a knife, a fact that seems to be glossed over as the story is told about the “Santa Barbara shooting.” The suspect in the SPU shooting also bought his gun legally, several years ago.

One other thing about the poll was how it was reported. The KOMO story noted, “A new poll shows strong support among Washington voters for a ballot initiative that would require background checks on all firearm sales in the state.”

However, I-594 requires checks on all firearms transfers. That includes loans of firearms to friends for hunting or competition.

How would people respond if they were asked, “Would you be willing to pay $30 to $60 to borrow/loan a firearm for a weekend, and another $30 to $60 to give/get it back?” The loan of a firearm is a “transfer,” and it is treated no differently than a sale.

Gun rights activists pushing I-591 and opposing I-594 will need to scramble, and break out their wallets, if they want to get their measure adopted in November. They have a busy three months ahead, during which they will need to raise more cash, make sure their friends are registered to vote, and that they actually vote.

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