Two conflicting ballot issues could both pass in Washington

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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Seattle, Wash. - A new poll shows the majority of Washington voters are in favor of two November ballot issues that directly conflict-- and the state isn't sure what to do about it.  They both involve gun control.
 
Today, the state attorney general's office tells us this has never happened before in Washington.  In the ‘90s there were two conflicting ballot issues, but only one passed, so initiatives 591 and 594 may put the state in a real bind.
 
At a rally in downtown Seattle featuring the city's mayor and gun violence survivors, the audience went wild for universal background checks.  It’s called Initiative 594.  It would require background checks for every gun purchased, whether at a gun show, online, or through a private party; that's stricter than the national standard.
 
"There are a lot of different ways that people who illegally get guns get them, and they won't bother with background checks.  They never have,” explains Dave Workman.  He is one of the faces of initiative 591, the other gun control ballot issue.  Its supporters like the system just the way it is.
 
Initiative 591 keeps current background checks in place when you buy a gun through a dealer.  It also prevents the government from confiscating guns without due process.  The problem is, according to the new poll, Washington voters support 591 and 594.  So we asked the state attorney general's office what happens if they both pass.  We were told:  "A court might give effect to the measure that receives more ‘yes’ votes than the other one."
 
That's one possibility, but to sum up the lengthy email we got, the office frankly doesn't know.  Right now. the initiative with more background checks has a little more support.  One of the other possibilities is the legislative could pass a whole new bill resolving the differences within two years of both initiatives passing.