Topic: Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility
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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.”
April 29, 2013 at 9:09 AM
Weeks after defeat in the state Legislature and U.S. Congress, local gun-control advocates announced Monday that they’re taking their case to the people.
“We are here today to ask our elected officials why they have failed us,” said the Rev. Sandy Brown of Seattle’s First United Method Church, who was flanked by faith leaders, elected officials and activists the morning after the end of Washington’s 2013 regular legislative session.
The 2014 initiative would seek to require background checks for all gun sales, not just those from licensed dealers as exists under the current law, said Zach Silk of the new Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which will run the campaign.
A similar proposal narrowly failed in the Legislature in March and in Congress earlier this month.
The initiative, which supporters hope to file next month, would go first to the 2014 Legislature. If it did not pass there, to the ballot box that November.
Silk said the campaign plans to raise several million dollars, including money from national gun control groups.
“We believe we will win and prevail,” he said.
The last gun-control initiative on the ballot in Washington state did not prevail. Initiative 676, to require trigger locks on handguns, failed overwhelmingly in 1997.
Gun-rights activists say the expanded checks would be ineffective and unconstitutional, unnecessarily burdening law-abiding gun owners.
But speakers at the event, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, said recent polls indicate the public supports background checks.
And they said momentum is on their side following recent mass shootings at Cafe Racer in Seattle and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“We will not wait for another Cafe Racer or another Sandy Hook,” said Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai. “It is time we stand up to be heard.”
April 17, 2013 at 6:48 PM
OLYMPIA — Democrats fumed Wednesday afternoon after the Republican-run state Senate declined to vote on a bipartisan gun-control bill before a key legislative deadline.
State Rep. Roger Goodman, who sponsored the bill, said he and others were “seething with anger” after hearing the measure would not get a vote before the 5 p.m. cutoff, likely ending its chance this legislative session.
The bill, House Bill 1840, would require some gun owners with a restraining or protective orders against them to temporarily surrender their guns while the order is in effect. Supporters see that as a protection for domestic violence victims, but opponents see it as intrusive and potentially unconstitutional.
The issue was highlighted in a recent New York Times story.
The measure was seen as gun-control advocates’ top priority after a string of high-profile defeats this session, including on a proposal to expand background checks for firearms sales.
The bill passed 61-37 in the House and 5-0 (with one abstention) in the Senate Law & Justice Committee after senators included an amendment to add more judicial oversight.
Once it got to the full Senate, several members expressed concern “that an individual who has not committed a crime would lose their guns,” said Sen. Mike Padden, a Spokane Valley Republican who chairs the Senate Law & Justice Committee.
Padden said he supported the bill, but “I don’t make all these decisions.”
Goodman said that “I guess these senators don’t mind guns remaining in the hands of domestic abusers, and they’re going to have to answer for that.”
Senate Democrats considered making a procedure move to bring the measure to the floor, but decided against it.
The Senate did pass one gun-control bill Wednesday — House Bill 1612, which would require people convicted of a firearms-related felony to register with law enforcement. The database of firearms felons would be maintained by the Washington State Patrol.
The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Hope of Lake Stevens, passed 41-7. It had passed the House 85-10, but now must go back there for approval of a technical change before going to Gov. Jay Inslee for final approval.
The apparent death of HB 1840 came on the same day an effort in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks failed.
Washington state gun-control advocates described the failures as evidence a gun-control ballot initiative is needed.
“It’s time for the people to lead,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, in an email about the U.S. Senate vote.
March 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM
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.
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