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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 11, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Inslee enlisting Gabby Giffords to push universal background checks

Gov. Jay Inslee has asked former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords to call a group of Washington state lawmakers who have not yet decided whether to support a contentious proposal to require background checks for all gun sales.

Giffords, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, resigned last January — about a year after being shot in the head at a supermarket near Tucson. She has since become an advocate for stricter gun laws.

State Rep. David Sawyer, an undecided Tacoma Democrat, said Inslee offered to have her call him. Inslee’s office confirmed the governor has asked his former colleague in Congress to call state lawmakers.

The background-check bill, a major priority of gun-control advocates, is expected to get a vote on the state House floor Monday afternoon or evening. But supporters say they’re still a vote or two short of what they need to pass the proposal.

The bill would eliminate an exception that allows purchases from private, unlicensed sellers to occur without a background check.

Inslee made a round of phone calls to undecided lawmakers over the weekend, according to his office. On Monday, the governor was meeting face-to-face with legislators.

In a post-meeting news conference off the House floor, Inslee called the bill “a common-sense piece of legislation.”

“This is a big day for the state to take a meaningful, common-sense step forward,” he said.

If the bill makes it through the House, it will move to the Senate. Supporters there say they probably have the votes to pass the bill — if they can convince Republican leaders to bring it up for a vote.

Comments | More in State Legislature | Topics: gun control, Jay Inslee, Newtown


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