Washingtonians have a history of confronting controversial issues head-on through ballot measures.
Voters in recent years have affirmed same-sex marriage and legalized recreational marijuana. This past November, the city of SeaTac’s electorate raised the minimum wage for airport workers to the highest level in the nation.
On deck: Gun control. Not just one initiative. Two!
Expect the dueling measures to spark a passionate, attention-grabbing and expensive debate, which will begin during the legislative session and likely extend through the November elections. Here’s Seattle Times reporter Brian Rosenthal’s latest news story on the signature-gathering process. The secretary of state’s office reports both initiatives have more than enough signatures to qualify for a place on the November ballot.
Initiative 594 would require background checks for all sales. Initiative 591 would limit mandatory checks to sales by licensed dealers and prohibit government officials from removing guns from citizens without due process.
Voters have a right to decide their preference, but something should definitely be done to ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands. The Seattle Times editorial board advocated for reforms in this April 2013 editorial following the Washington Legislature’s and Congress’ failures to pass substantive bills.
People are getting killed and maimed. It’s not clear where the guns used to shoot them are coming from. So what’s the harm in requiring universal checks?
The new year opened with four people shot in three difference incidents in Seattle, according to this news side story. In April, the Times’ FYI Guy, Gene Balk, reported that more people die in Washington from gun violence than from car accidents. That same statistic holds in King County, where authorities report more than 100 people are shot and killed annually.
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