OLYMPIA — A key deadline came and went here on Wednesday afternoon, taking with it an opportunity many saw as this session’s best chance for expanding background checks for gun sales.
House Bill 1588, a much-discussed priority of gun-control advocates, did not come up for a vote in the state House before 5 p.m., the cutoff for floor votes on bills not deemed necessary to implement the budget.
Prime sponsor Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said late Tuesday night he had come up a few votes short, but some other supporters were holding out hope.
That ended Wednesday, as Medina Democrat Ross Hunter and other supporters trying to round up last-minute votes failed to get enough to bring the measure to the floor.
The proposal also did not get a vote in the state Senate; that chamber is generally seen as more lenient about cut-off, but Republicans who control the chamber generally oppose the measure.
The bill would require background checks for all gun purchases. Currently, they are required for sales from licensed dealers but not for purchases from private, unlicensed residents.
Activists on both sides said if little is accomplished in the Legislature, they expect a gun-control initiative on the November ballot. They pointed to the newly-created Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is funded by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.
Alliance lobbyist Cody Arledge said the group is still weighing its options. But the timing for an initiative campaign may not be ideal, he said, because many of the national — and wealthy — gun-control groups are focused this year on changing federal laws.