After months of collection efforts, supporters and opponents of expanded background checks for gun sales appear to have come up with about the same number of signatures — and it’s more than enough to qualify both for the ballot.
A spokesman for Initiative 594, which would require the checks for all sales, said supporters will submit some 95,000 signatures Thursday in Olympia. They already turned in 250,000, bringing their rough total to 345,000.
Sponsors of Initiative 591, which would keep checks mandatory only for sales by licensed dealers, submitted 340,000 signatures in November and plan to turn in 5,000 more Friday.
Friday is the last day to submit signatures. Just 246,000 valid ones are needed by qualify for the ballot.
The Secretary of State’s Office must officially certify the signatures.
If certified, both proposals would go first to the Legislature. If not approved by lawmakers — which is what is likely to happen — the measures would go before voters in November.
In Washington state, it is rare to see two well-financed, proposed ballot measures related to one major issue. Records maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office show that competing initiatives have been on the same ballot a half-dozen or fewer times in state history.
Perhaps it is not surprising that this year’s initiatives got about the same amount of signatures, given the reports of some paid contractors collecting John Hancocks for both.
With signature collection now behind them, spokesmen for both measures agreed on one thing:
“Voters will clearly have a stark choice to make,” said Christian Sinderman of Initiative 594.
Initiative 591 spokesman Alan Gottlieb agreed. “It should be an interesting year,” he said.