Olympia, Wash - The new gun control group, Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) has delivered the first batch of signatures to Olympia on October 4th, 2013. While the number of signatures being delivered were not released, Washington State required 246,372 signatures for a measure to be put on the ballot. The group has until January 3rd 2014 to gather signatures. If the signatures are gathered by that time there are three different things that can happen with the initiative. It can go to the legislature for a vote, and if passed become law. The legislature can opt not to vote on the measure and it will become a ballot measure in 2014, or they can amend it, and offer a different bill to run concurrently with the citizens initiative.
The state house and senate already voted on and failed to pass a background check bill early this year, but the initiative contains some different language than the original bill. It would require law enforcement or concealed pistol license holders to also undergo a background check when purchasing a firearm from a private party.
Many in the firearms communities are questioning the tactics used by the paid signature gatherers though. Posts at all of the major forums, including WaGuns.org are telling a story of deception and dishonesty to get people to sign. One user, lamrith, posted that "you sign 591 on top, then he prompts you to sign the second page as well for the other initiative... Most people will expect they are both to protect rights, as that is what he is saying when he calls you over... Very misleading."
Many are now saying that these deceptive tactics are being used to gather signatures by telling people that they are signing a petition to protect gun rights, which is what I-591 is. I-591 is to prevent the state from adopting more restrictive laws that the federal government. One question being asked is if they are even turning in the signatures for i-591 when they are collected, or just throwing them away.
"So they are getting hundreds of signatures from people, then what?" Asked Ryan, a reader of this column. "Are they just throwing them away and making people think they have now signed I-591? Generally once people sign, they don't go back and sign the same petition again. This seems like a very deceptive practice" he continued.
A video, which was posted also shows this practice being employed one people was posted online back in July. That video can be found here. In the video the signature gatherer says to the person "Come over, and sign this petition to protect your gun rights." He has a copy of I-591 on top, then flips it up and begins talking to people about I-594, which is an initiative to restrict rights, and not protect them.
These paid signature gatherers are being paid by WAGR to collect signatures, and get paid by the signature collected. Most of them are not even from Washington State. One WaGuns.org member has a conversation with one of them, and the signature gatherer admits to being from Arizona. Many are saying that the liberal anti-gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by Mayor Bloomberg is funding this effort. Many are saying that "no doubt they are also teaching the gatherers the deceptive tactics as well."
Time will tell if enough signatures are going to be collected, and if so, if voters will approve the measure. But one thing right now is for certain, there is certainly some tactics being employed that are raising eyebrows.