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Needed: 500 responses to questions about dueling initiatives

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The National Rifle Association today is running a poll with questions that critics might argue are intended to elicit a favorable response to its political agenda; a survey that by no small coincidence comes 24 hours after the Elway Poll reported continued strong support for Initiative 594 and less support for competing Initiative 591 in Washington State.

One should take the NRA survey. It only takes a couple of minutes. And then, answer the three questions at the bottom of this column, in the comments section, like others have done.

The Elway Poll, reported by the Seattle Times, is eliciting a strong reaction, and some suggest the outcome would be different if participants were asked a couple of key questions about facts that are not clear to many people on both sides of the gun control debate. One can see the strong differences by perusing the reader comments.

No disrespect to Stuart Elway or his staff, as their poll was straightforward with a plus/minus 4.5 percent margin of error and the results are no doubt accurately reported. Perhaps another poll is on the horizon that might clarify the issue for many undecided voters. The Elway Poll, taken several days ago with just over 500 participants, asked straightforward questions based on the language of the ballot statements for the two measures.

According to Elway, this is how the questions were framed:

"Initiative Measure No. 591 concerns firearms. This measure would prohibit government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required. As things stand today, how are you inclined to vote? Would you say…

Definitely for Initiative 591
Probably for it
Probably against it
Definitely against imitative 591

"Initiative Measure No. 594 concerns background checks for firearm sales and transfers. This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions. As things stand today, how are you inclined to vote? Would you say…

Definitely for Initiative 594
Probably for it
Probably against it
Definitely against imitative 594

"Just to be clear, do you favor of more extensive background checks for gun sales? Or do you favor keeping the background check system as it is. MORE RESTRICTIVE (or) KEEP AS IS."

But there are a couple of other questions that might help frame the debate over the dueling initiatives differently, if only they were asked. Now might be a good time to ask, and this is where readers need to participate. The Elway Poll got 500 responses, and below, in the Examiner comments section, readers can have their say.

If you knew that many rank-and-file law enforcement professionals in Washington were opposed to Initiative 594, which requires “universal background checks,” would you be more or less inclined to vote for it? More inclined (or) Less inclined? (Answer in the "comments" section below.)

If you knew that many rank-and-file law enforcement professionals in Washington supported Initiative 591, which requires that background checks conform to a uniform national standard, would you be more or less inclined to vote for it? More inclined (or) Less inclined? (Answer in the "comments" section below.)

Would you be willing to pay $30 to $60 to borrow/loan a firearm to a friend for hunting or other legitimate purposes and another $30 to $60 to give/get it back? (That was the estimated cost of a background check conducted by a federally licensed firearms dealer as suggested during a debate before the Seattle Times editorial board two weeks ago.) (Answer in the "comments" section below.)

Under I-594, the term, “transfer means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.” That language appears at the bottom of Page 6 of the initiative, despite the widely shared impression that it only applies to sales of firearms.

In order for this to work, readers must participate. That means taking an additional minute or two to answer below, in the comments section. Be sure to forward this link so others may participate as well. Apathy is not an option.

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