Advocates for stricter gun laws in Washington state launched a campaign Monday to take the issue to voters. This comes after state lawmakers voted down a similar bill, SB 1588, that would have expanded background checks on gun sales.
Leaders of Jewish, Baptist, Sikh and other faith communities filled the stage Monday at Seattle’s Town Hall, in a show of support of the initiative. Among them was Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.
“We will no longer wait as our community grieves another loss of a loved one; as another youth is shot down on our streets,” Weiner said. “We will not wait for another Café Racer or another Sandy Hook.”
Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is organizing the campaign. Zach Silk, the campaign’s director, said the initiative is still being drafted but he expects it will be stricter than the measure lawmakers just declined.
Silk says the overall goal with the initiative is to keep guns away from criminals. “Right now, we know they go to gun shows,” Silk said. “We know they can go online to buy guns and they can also buy them privately. All of that happens without a background check.”
The campaign’s strategy is a two-phased approach. The group plans to gather signatures this summer, then take the initiative to the Legislature in January 2014. If lawmakers take no action, the campaign will then send the measure to voters in November.
Dave Workman is with the Bellevue-based group, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He opposes background check laws because he fears they could lead to a government registry that would list gun owners as well as the type of gun they own.
“Quite honestly, gun registration — that’s poison,” Workman said. “There are two reasons to register a firearm. It’s either to tax them or to take them.”
Workman said such measures tend to be a deal-breaker for gun owners.
Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility plans to file the initiative in late May.