Local news reports
Voting begins this week to decide a long-brewing duel of ballot measures involving guns — one to require background checks on the buyers involved in nearly every weapon sale in the state, the other to block expansion of existing law.
In all, more than $10 million is being spent in the nation's only electoral combat between backers of gun rights and gun control this year.
Most of the money, and nearly all the attention, is on Initiative 594, which would expand state law to require background checks on private sales of firearms, such as transactions conducted online and at gun shows.
Just above this measure on the ballot is Initiative 591, which would bar the state from enacting rules on background checks that exceed the requirements of federal law.
In other words, it would prevent everything that I-594 sets out to do.
State and federal laws require background checks to buy a pistol and other types of guns from federally licensed firearms dealers but are silent on purchases from private sellers.
Initiative 594 sponsors say that the unregulated private market is where criminals and those barred from buying a weapon — because of a mental illness or a domestic-violence protective order — do their shopping.
Closing what they deem a loophole in the law will make it harder for felons and other potentially dangerous people to evade a background checks and obtain guns, said Geoff Potter of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the committee conducting the pro-594 campaign.
If passed, I-594 won't prevent people from buying a gun online or at a private gun show, said Kristin Meilicke, of Edmonds, at an Edmonds City Council hearing on Tuesday.