Topic: background checks
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October 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM
A national Second Amendment group based in Bellevue has decided to sponsor “Guns Save Lives Day” on Dec. 14 — the anniversary of last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
The 650,000-member Second Amendment Foundation, which announced the event Thursday with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and DefendGunRights.com, has not yet decided what it will entail. But Alan Gottlieb, the president of the group, said the goal is to show “there’s a good side of guns.”
“People every single day use guns to save lives,” Gottlieb said. “We don’t think anybody should have been a victim at Sandy Hook, and we don’t think anybody should be a victim in the future.”
Gottlieb estimated that some 200 gun-rights groups from all 50 states would participate in the event.
“Quite frankly, we don’t want the gun prohibition lobby to own that day,” he said. “So we’re starting early.”
Critics blasted the event as disrespectful.
Cheryl Stumbo, a victim of the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting on July 28, 2006, said that if gun-rights groups tried to sponsor a similar event on July 28, it would feel like “a slap in the face.”
“It’s an attempt to blame victims, and it shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Stumbo, the sponsor of a 2014 initiative campaign to require background checks for all gun sales, not just those by licensed dealers.
Earlier this week, supporters of the initiative submitted 250,000 of the roughly 325,000 signatures required to get on the ballot.
Gottlieb is the main spokesman for a rival ballot measure, also proposed for 2014, that would prevent Washington state from adopting background-check laws that are more strict than the federal standard.
Asked about the potential for his “Guns Save Lives Day” to offend victims, he said that the groups “are not planning on doing anything that’s insensitive whatsoever.
“We know that our opponents are going to try to use that day to push their agenda,” he said. “We’re going to show the American people that there’s a good side of guns.”
September 7, 2013 at 4:55 PM
Supporters of an initiative to expand background checks for gun sales have come up with a new way to gather signatures: delegating the job to newspaper readers.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility this week paid to put petitions in 130,000 copies of The Seattle Times and 50,000 copies of The Stranger, according to spokesman Christian Sinderman.
The petition, an 11 x 17 paper featuring the wording of the initiative, space for five signatures and instructions for how to mail them in, greeted Times home subscribers in King and Snohomish counties Saturday.
“It’s a cool experiment to go directly to people with petitions, to try to make it easy for them,” Sinderman said. “We’ll see what happens.”
The approach has been done before, on occasion, said Dave Ammons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s 2014 initiative would require background checks for all gun sales, not just those by licensed firearm dealers, as in current law.
The group paid The Times $10,000 and The Stranger $5,000 for the packages, which included printing the petitions, Sinderman said.
Jill Mackie, spokeswoman for The Times, said the group was charged the typical rate for a political issue advertising campaign.
Opponents of the initiative painted the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s new advertising campaign as an act of desperation.
“They must be having trouble getting people to sign their petition,” said Phil Watson, of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, whose leadership prefers another 2014 initiative to prevent the state from adopting expanded background checks on its own. “Otherwise why spend money on this?”
But Sinderman said the newspaper advertising represented a good deal.
If 5 percent of the 130,000 Times subscriber mail in five signatures, Sinderman noted, it would translate to about 30,00 signatures. He said that would cost about $90,000 to collect via paid signature-gatherers — nine times what the group paid The Times.
July 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Washington state supporters of expanded background checks for gun sales state have won an early skirmish in a long battle with Second Amendment activists that’s expected to end with dueling initiatives on the November 2014 ballot.
The background-check supporters beat back two court challengers to the wording of what will appear on the ballot with their measure, Initiative 594, which would require the checks for almost all gun sales. Background checks currently are required only for sales by licensed firearm dealers.
Both challenges came from gun-rights supporters who felt the wording put the proposal in a positive light. They wanted the ballot title and summary to call the exceptions “limited” and note more prominently that not conducting a background check would be a crime.
Alan Gottlieb of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation said he was disappointed in the Thurston County Superior Court ruling “because if you’re creating a new crime, voters should know that.”
Initiative supporters, naturally, were happier.
Spokesman Christian Sinderman argued that the challenges backfired because one of the only changes to the ballot title and summary made by Judge Chris Wickham clarified that the background checks look for criminal history and public-safety issues.
If the measure makes it to the ballot, the following will run with Initiative 594:
“This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background check requirements by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.
“Current law requires criminal and public safety background checks before purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. This measure would extend this requirement to most firearm purchases and transfers in Washington, with exceptions, including transfers within families, temporary transfers for self-defense and hunting, and antiques. Licensed dealers would conduct the background checks and could charge a fee. Violation of these requirements would be a crime.”
Second Amendment activists, meanwhile, are pursuing their own initiative, also aimed first at the 2014 Legislature and then, likely, the November 2014 ballot. The ballot wording of Initiative 591 was approved without a court fight. It is:
“This measure would prohibit government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.
“This measure would declare that it is unlawful for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from citizens without due process, or to require background checks on the recipient of a firearm unless a uniform national standard is required.”
June 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM
State faith leaders and gun violence victims on Tuesday filed an initiative proposal that would require background checks for almost all firearms sales and transfers, taking the first step in what is expected to be a hotly contested push for stronger gun laws.
Supporters, who have already raised more than $1 million for their campaign, will need to gather some 246,000 valid signatures by next January to send the measure to the state Legislature. If lawmakers do not accept it, the initiative would go to voters in November 2014.
The background checks are meant to prevent felons and mentally disabled people from getting weapons. The checks are currently required for sales from licensed gun dealers.
The proposed law would extend that mandate to private sales, requiring the seller go to a dealer and pay for a background check.
A few transfers would be exempted, including for antique guns, gifts within the immediate family, situations where there is imminent danger and transactions related to a law enforcement officer’s job.
“This will make it more difficult for bad guys to get guns, and it won’t burden the good guys,” said campaign manager Zach Silk, noting that 98 percent of state residents live within 10 miles of a gun dealer.
But Second Amendment activists quickly noted the proposal would be far stricter than a bill that failed to pass this year in even the Legislature’s Democrat-controlled House. That measure would have exempted concealed pistol license holders.
Alan Gottlieb, of the Second Amendment Foundation, called the new proposal “overly restrictive by a long shot.”
The National Rifle Association, which typically opposes new gun restrictions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear how much gun-rights activists will fight the initiative.
Supporters, though, are expected to be well-financed. The campaign will be a run by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a group founded late last year by wealthy venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.
A kickoff fundraiser two weeks ago at The Westin Seattle brought in more than $1 million from 1,200 attendees, according to initiative spokesman Christian Sinderman.
The luncheon’s keynote speaker was Mark Glaze, executive director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a big-spending group founded by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. After the luncheon, Glaze promised that Bloomberg’s group would support the Washington state initiative.
Gun-control advocates are hoping that national support will help them avoid what happened in 1997, when a Washington state initiative to require trigger locks on handguns and training for owners failed overwhelmingly.
This time, said Silk, “we expect to win.”
May 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM
State Auditor Troy Kelley on Tuesday urged officials to adopt a background-check system for teachers, child care workers and nursing home aides that continues to monitor for criminal issues after the initial check.
“Washington’s background check process is falling behind other states because it does not provide an automatic notification if a person commits a criminal offense after passing a background check,” according to Kelley’s first major performance audit, which noted the federal government now recommends the so-called “rap back service,” which is currently in use in 29 states and under development in eight others.
Washington currently requires an initial background check and follow-up checks at certain times for positions of trust.
A “rap back service” could more quickly identify a significant number of “inappropriate individuals” in those positions, the audit found.
Specifically, auditors analyzed 800,000 applicants for positions of trust between 2005 and 2012 (they analyzed only applicants, not employees, because of “data limitations”). They found that 507 of the applicants were charged with at least one new crime after passing an initial background check.
Half of those people were charged with disqualifying offenses like drug crimes, assault, indecent exposure, child molestation, burglary and theft, according to the audit.
On average, the applicants could have remained on the job for nearly two years before a follow-up check, the auditors found.
In order to implement the tighter system, officials would have to revise state law to allow the Washington State Patrol and FBI to retain fingerprints. The system would also be more expensive.
Last year, the state conducted more than 800,000 background checks for positions of trust.
The Auditor’s Office said it conducted the new audit to follow up on a report last summer that found 28 sex offenders had been living in state-approved foster homes and preschools and day cares operated in private homes. In one case, a school district had employed a registered sex offender as a janitor for nine years.
No children were reported to be harmed by the offenders uncovered in that audit, but it disclosed several areas of potential weakness in the state’s tracking and monitoring systems.
March 5, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Washington state voters support requiring background checks for all gun sales, according to a poll released Tuesday morning.
The Elway Poll, conducted by Stuart Elway, found that 79 percent of voters support the expanded checks (currently, checks are required for sales by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private sellers).
Perhaps most surprisingly, the poll found that 71 percent of state gun owners support universal checks.
Elway called 412 voters, including via cell phone, between Feb. 28 and March 2. The poll’s margin of error is five percentage points, plus or minus. Of those responding to the poll, 173 indentified themselves as gun owners.
The poll also found support, albeit at a narrower 54 percent, for another pair of gun measures: banning ammunition magazines or clips that can hold more than 10 rounds and banning so-called semi-automatic weapons, which automatically reload when the trigger is pulled.
Only 34 percent of voters said they want gun owners to have to buy special liability insurance, though.
And only 34 percent supported allowing school administrators or teachers to carry concealed weapons in school, an idea that some Republicans says could mean safer schools.
But the background-check finding is likely to get the most attention because it is the idea most seriously being considered in the Legislature right now.
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