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Increasing focus on dueling initiatives across state

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(Updated 4 a.m. Sept. 1) The debate over two dueling initiatives — one backed by billionaire elitists from Seattle and New York and the other supported by hunters, collectors and rank-and-file law enforcement — is heating up as September opens, with increasing press coverage on both sides of the state, with Friday’s coverage in the Tacoma News Tribune.

The News Tribune carried the Associated Press story that finally highlighted law enforcement’s position, while Friday’s Tri-City Herald reported a debate between proponents of both measures in Richland. That discussion is also getting attention on Facebook, while the AP story carried remarks by retired Pierce County Sheriff’s detective Bill Burris, speaking for the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (WSLEFIA).

That story also quoted King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who has emerged as a leading proponent of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure that mandates background checks on all firearms transfers, not just sales. Satterberg is one of a handful of prosecutors who publicly support I-594, on the other side of the issue from WSLEFIA and the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.

In Richland, I-594 proponent Rory Graves, squared off against Philip Watson, campaign finance manager for Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR). That’s the umbrella group backing Initiative 591, the one-page measure that requires background checks in Washington to comply with a uniform national standard, while also preventing gun confiscation without due process. Grave's mother had been wounded in a domestic violence attack, and was in the audience. (Examiner earlier reported she had died. We regret the error.)

Satterberg acknowledged in the AP story that I-594 may not prevent gun-related crime. He noted that “Nobody says universal background checks are going to solve gun violence now and forever,” adding that it is “one of the things that need to be done to make the community safer.” It is not clear from the story what those other things might be.

Over in Richland, not only did the Herald cover the debate, but so did the Common Sense Information Facebook page. The discussion occurred before the Columbia Basin Badger Club.

Monday is the announced launch of I-591 advertising, which raised the hackles of the gun control lobby. I-594 campaign manager Zack Silk sent an e-mail alert Saturday exclaiming, “The ad is scary because it's confusing -- but what’s even scarier is that we know from our research that it is exactly the kind of ad that can confuse voters into voting against commonsense reforms like 594.”

Career cop Burris, in his remarks to the Associated Press, said just the opposite. In his opinion, the story said, I-594’s language regarding transfers will confuse people.

The next 65 days leading up to the election should be confusing enough for anybody. The big money gun control lobby has a fortune to spend on advertising, after million-dollar donations from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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