Led by Cheryl Strumbo, a survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shooting spree, the pro-gun control group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has launched a bold campaign in Washington State by filing a new gun control initiative. Dubbed “Background Check For Gun Sales and Transfers,” the initiative would require background checks for most gun sales. Exceptions would include gifts between family members, situations where there is imminent danger, police officers and soldiers working within their official capacity and other common-sense omissions.
Proponents argue the initiative would close the gun show loophole and make it more difficult for people to get away with straw purchases. Opponents argue the new regulations would hinder law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to deter criminals.
Both sides are correct, in a way. Criminals would undoubtedly continue to ignore the laws, but stronger penalties would make some criminals think twice and those that are caught would face longer tougher sentences.
The background check initiative is opposed by two pro-gun initiatives filed earlier this year, one that prohibits background checks and another that would prevent the government from establishing a gun registry.
For those unfamiliar with the Washington state legal system, these initiatives will head to state legislators for consideration if they can muster 246,372 signatures by Jan. 4 of next year. If the legislature does not pass the initiatives, the aspiring laws would be added to the ballot during the next general election in November 2014. The second pro-gun initiative will skip the legislature — if it gets enough signatures, it will go straight to the 2013 general election ballot.
It is uncommon to see such diametrically opposed bills heading to the legislature at the same time. Usually, legislators start with a single bill and then let the opposition water it down until they have something that can pass. It will be even more peculiar if legislators attempt to pass both initiatives simultaneously in an all-or-nothing fight over guns.