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Wash. gun control backers plan Wednesday event on heels of poll

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Backers of an 18-page gun control measure will gather Wednesday morning at the Seattle Center ostensibly to “mark multiple anniversaries of mass shootings in America,” according to the Seattle P-I.com, but there will doubtless be plenty of talk about the results of a new Elway poll released today regarding Initiatives 591 and 594.

The Seattle Times this afternoon reported the results of an Elway poll, conducted with 504 voters via telephone April 9-13. Elway released the results of that survey Tuesday morning, noting that 55 percent of the respondents “were inclined” to vote for I-591, 72 percent “were inclined” to support I-594, and 40 percent said they “were inclined” to vote for both initiatives.

Backers of I-591, which is a one-page measure that prohibits government gun confiscation without due process while mandating that background checks in Washington comply with a uniform national standard, say that’s about where they expected early poll numbers to be. It indicates they have a monumental task lying ahead, to sell their message while explaining what they believe are the faults of the much larger initiative.

The poll noted that last year, a survey revealed that 79 percent of respondents supported expanded background checks on all gun sales. This time around, according to Elway, 62 percent “favor making background checks more restrictive.” According to Elway, the disparity “could represent a significant decline in support for background checks.”

Gun rights activists are quick to point out that a majority of people who have committed mass shootings in recent memory did pass background checks. That includes the gunman at the Seattle Jewish Federation offices in 2006, the Café Racer gunman two years ago, the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooter, the man who opened fire in Tucson, and both Fort Hood shooters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Seattle Times readers reacting to the poll report are of differing opinions, with opponents of I-594 asserting that there is much more to the measure than expanded background checks. That measure may be read here.

I-591 is supported by a statewide coalition of law enforcement professionals, hunters, gun collectors and competitors under the Protect Our Gun Rights umbrella. I-594 is backed by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a well-financed Seattle-based coalition of faith leaders, police officials and other groups.

One interesting revelation in the Elway poll is that “Republicans said protecting gun rights was more important than controlling gun ownership by 74-20%, while Democrats chose controlling gun ownership over gun rights by 66-24%. Independents chose gun rights by 55-34%.”

Democrats and a majority of independents want expanded background checks while Republicans are evenly split. That could change over the next few months, as more people become familiar with the two measures.

Wednesday’s event begins at 10:30 a.m. and is sponsored by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It will be held at the Next 50 Annex.

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