Stuffing newspapers with copies of petitions is not a new tactic, but the ploy is getting attention today from readers of the Seattle Times, which erroneously reported Sunday that the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation is sponsoring a counter measure, Initiative 591.
SAF’s Philip Watson is quoted by the Times, which ought to know by now that it is the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms that is involved in the I-591 campaign. SAF is not sponsoring the measure. But it is supported by a broad coalition of groups that includes law enforcement, hunters and gun collectors, as well as grassroots activists. For the record, the National Rifle Association — which typically gets blamed for throwing its weight around in state issues — has taken no position on either initiative, nor contributed any money. That organization has been busy in Colorado, where two anti-gun lawmakers face recall on Tuesday.
The Times is one of two publications carrying copies of Initiative 594, the 15-page gun control measure that is also stuffed in the current issue of The Stranger, as this column reported Friday. Gun rights advocates are questioning why the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) has gone to this strategy.
An off-shoot of the I-591 effort has been a gun owner voter registration drive that has raised awareness in the firearms community about the importance of getting this measure to the Legislature. CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb has been delighted at the response from gun owners who evidently want to make sure they are eligible to vote on I-591 next year.
SAF and CCRKBA are sister organizations.
The Times reports that WAGR spent $10,000 to stuff its measure into the daily newspaper, and another $5,000 to put it in The Stranger. Copies of I-591 were inserted into the Gun News, a publication of the Washington Arms Collectors.
The two measures are competing for signatures, and ultimately for public support when they appear on the 2014 ballot. I-591 will prevent the state from adopting its own restrictive “background check” requirements and increasing the waiting period on the purchase of a firearm. I-594, on the other hand, would set up different requirements, including a longer waiting period than currently stipulated in federal law.
One might easily compare this to a state preemption law dispute. Washington adopted in 1983 a preemption law that has become a model for similar laws in several states. It prevents cities and counties from creating a hodgepodge of conflicting gun regulations, and instead requires uniformity of gun laws from one border to the other.
In the same vein, I-591 would require state background checks to comply with a uniform national standard. It also prevents the government from confiscating privately-owned firearms without due process.
Backers of both measures have been paying signature-gatherers, and they are trying to gather those signatures by the end of this year for delivery to the State Legislature in January.