Voters may decide dueling guns initiatives

by: Essex Porter Updated:

The gun control battle is moving to the ballot box. And we know that Washington voters will likely face dueling gun initiatives next year.

Today, gun rights advocates unveiled their campaign for Initiative 591, which they call the "Protect Our Gun Rights" initiative. They say it's a direct response to Initiative 594 filed by advocates of gun control. "It's running the gamut for the threats against gun rights right now," says Alan Gottlieb founder of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.

Initiative 591 locks in the current system, prohibiting background checks for private sales and gun shows unless federal law changes to include them. Plus it prohibits government from confiscating guns without due process. By contrast, gun control Initiative 594 expands background checks to include private sales and gun shows. "People understand what background checks are, they want stronger background check laws," says Christian Sinderman, spokesman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

Both initiatives need roughly 250,000 signatures to be sent to the state Legislature in January. If the Legislature refuses to pass them, they would then be placed on the November 2014 ballot for voters to decide.

Because gun owners are passionate and background checks are popular, both initiatives could pass, setting up another battle.

Gottlieb says, "There's a chance both would pass and I think if both pass I think ours is going to take precedence."

"We think we would have the upper hand in any kind of imbalance between the two," Sinderman said.