Come November, Washington voters will vote on two competing initiatives dealing with background checks for private gun sales.
I-594 would expand background checks in the state by requiring checks for all private sales and online purchases. Under the measure a licensed dealer would have to call in the background check between all transactions of private parties. A handful of Capitol Hill small business owners have joined the likes of Bill Gates, Nick Hanauer, and Democratic super donors from Madrona to support the pro I-594 group WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which has raised $7.4 million.
Mamnoon owner Wassef Haroun was among the Capitol Hill business owners to make a $1,000 donation this summer.
“It’s something we believe in, it’s a step in the right direction,” Haroun said. “We’re happy to see the state of Washington is taking a leading step.”
The Stranger publisher Tim Keck, Cupcake Royale owner Jody Hall, and food and drink owner Dave Meinert have all made donations. Among the deep-pocket backers in the area is Ann Blume, who lives in the Denny Blaine-area home the president visited for a fundraiser earlier this year.
Since Gamma Ray Games or the wallpaper at Po Dog are the about the closest you’ll get to finding a firearms dealer on Capitol Hill, no neighborhood businesses should be directly affected by the measure.
Capitol Hill’s recent wave of robberies likely can’t do much to muster more support for the measure in a neighborhood with such clear pro-gun control leanings. But several of the incidents in September’s robbery spree on involved firearms. It’s not known how many of those perpetrators obtained their guns illegally or would’ve been barred from getting a hold of a gun under I-594. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said at a recent meeting that she was concerned about a rise in gunpoint robberies in the East Precinct, but did not mention either of this year’s competing initiatives.
Others have been more vocal. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg supports the measure. The Greater Seattle Business Association, The National Physicians Alliance Washington branch, and the League of Women Voters are among groups that have endorsed I-594. Faith groups including Jewish Family Service, Central Lutheran Church, Temple De Hirsch Sinai and St. Mark’s are also on the list.
Retailer NuBe Green, with a store at 10th and Pine, is also listed among the measure’s endorsements.
Groups lined up against I-594 include the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the National Rifle Association of America Washingtonians Opposed to I-594, which argue the measure is unnecessarily intrusive.
The Gun lobby-backed I-591 would prevent universal background checks in the state that are stricter than the national standard, effectively preventing anything like I-594. While I-591 has polled favorably in the state, an April poll showed a majority of Washington voters would actually support both initiatives. If both issues were voted in, the State Supreme Court would almost certainly have to settle the issue.
Meanwhile, the city’s Gun Free Zone program is still up and running. Last year then-Mayor Mike McGinn was on Capitol Hill to announce the program that gives businesses a legal and civic framework to ban guns from their restaurants, bars, clubs, salons and stores. Several Capitol Hill business owners were among the first to sign up, including Neumos co-owner Mike Meckling.
The vote on the initiatives will begin being tallied on Election Day, November 4, 2011. You should start to see ballots around October 17th. You can register to vote online and update existing registrations here through October 6th.