Topic: Phil Watson
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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.
January 22, 2013 at 3:32 PM
A local gun-control advocacy group on Tuesday released a poll indicating support for new firearms restrictions — findings that opponents quickly dismissed as “meaningless and worthless.”
The poll of 600 state residents was conducted earlier this month by Alison Peters Consulting, which usually works with Democrats. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
The poll found that 76 percent of state residents support tighter gun laws.
Specifically, it found that 66 percent support banning so-called semiautomatic assault weapons, and 87 percent support requiring background checks for all firearm purchases, even from private dealers at gun shows.
Currently, the assault weapons are legal, and private dealers are exempted from required background checks.
Proposals addressing both issues are expected to be introduced in the Legislature this session, spurred in part by the mass shooting in Connecticut last month. But the measures are likely to face stiff resistance from lawmakers who favor gun rights, and legislative leaders have expressed pessimism about reaching agreement on new restrictions.
The board president for Washington Ceasefire, which sponsored the new poll, said the group will use it to push the Legislature to enact stricter laws.
The information will also be useful as the group weighs whether to run an initiative, said the board president, Ralph Fascitelli.
Gun rights advocates noted that in 1997 a gun-control initiative was on the ballot and Washington Ceasefire released polling showing it had support. But the measure, Initiative 676, only got about 30 percent of the vote.
“The problem with these polls is that the devil is always in the details of how the questions are asked,” said Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “It’s easy for a poll to say anything you want if you use emotional rhetoric.”
Gottlieb called the new poll “meaningless and worthless.”
Phil Watson, who works with several gun rights groups, said polls he has seen indicate much less support for new gun laws. But he declined to release those results, citing policy prohibiting him from releasing internal polling numbers.
National polls have produced varying results on similar questions. A CBS/New York Times poll released last week found that 54 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws, while a Gallup poll also released last week found just 38 percent do.
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