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Local gun control advocates turn to initiative

The initiative would expand background checks to private sales of guns, instead of only guns sales made through dealers. (AP Photo/File)

Gun control advocates in Washington are launching an initiative campaign after state lawmakers declined to expand background checks on gun sales.

The group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced its plans Monday. Supporters will need to collect nearly 250,000 valid signatures, with state officials recommending the submission of more than 300,000 to account for duplicates and invalid signatures.

I think they'll probably collect those signatures in less than a month," Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick told Seattle's Morning News.

Lovick said that as a former state congressman he was disappointed when HB 1588 (the gun control bill) was killed in the legislature. "It's almost disgraceful, shameful that they couldn't pass that piece of legislation."

If supporters get enough signatures, the initiative would first go to the Legislature early next year and then to the ballot if lawmakers fail to adopt it. Proponents in the state Legislature did not have enough votes to pass a bill on background checks this year.

As Lovick explained, "If you were selling a weapon, a private dealer or anyone selling a weapon, [the initiative] would just require a background check to see if the person has committed a felony, if he or she is mentally ill or if they've been charged with domestic violence."

Dave Ross asked if that would extend to a gun owner selling firearm to a family member? "Exactly, yes," responded Lovick.

Gun buyers must currently undergo a background check when they purchase a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Lawmakers had proposed expanding that to cover private transactions.

An Associated Press report with contributions from's Alyssa Kleven


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