Capitol Hill small business owners back initiative to expand background checks for gun sales

A September Yes on 594 phone banks at 11th Ave's Central Lutheran Church

A September Yes on 594 phone banks at 11th Ave’s Central Lutheran Church

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.

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14 thoughts on “Capitol Hill small business owners back initiative to expand background checks for gun sales

  1. This law makes it a FELONY to teach my fiance how to shoot on private or public land where it’s legal (currently) to do so because simply handing someone a gun meets I-594’s definition of transfer and every transfer requires an individual trip to the dealer, a background check, a fee, a waiting period, and use tax on the value of the firearm. This law keeps guns out of the hands of all people, thereby empowering the criminals who don’t abide by the restrictions. I-594 targets hunters, recreational shooters, rural families, target shooters, firearms instructors, competitive shooters, collectors, hobbyists, hunter educators, but criminals remain undeterred by unenforceable legislation.

    No on 594. Yes on 591.


      handing someone a gun for the purposes of education does NOT violate the law according to 594! It’s ignorance like yours that perpetuates gun crime and the inbred mentalities of the NRA and its cronies.

      Save your bullshit arguments and move elsewhere if you don’t want to live in the civilized society we have in Washington

      • There are some ambiguities in I-594 (as there are in ANY ballot measure) but they will be easy for the legislature to fix – and the Republicans will be eager to rein in any aspect of it they can. I can’t believe this is a deal-breaker for anyone seriously interested in keeping guns out of the hands of crazies.

      • When “some ambiguities in I-594” can make me an accidental felon, yeah, that makes it a deal breaker. Responsible behavior should not be discouraged by any law. Training is responsible behavior that IS discouraged (by penalty of extremely high fees and inconvenience) by this law.

        Just a few weekends ago, I took one person new to firearms, and two other seasoned gun owners to private property I have access to for some shooting lessons/practice. I shared 4 different handguns and 3 rifles with them over the course of the early morning session. Under I-594, every “temporary transfer” in that session would have required a drive to the nearest FFL. That alone would have made the session take DAYS since safe land to shoot on wasn’t exactly close to populated areas where FFLs existed. Fees for that same responsible activity would have reached over a thousand dollars as each of my 7 total firearms would have had to be individually transferred to each person in turn and then back to me when done. 4 transfers X 7 firearms X approx $50 per transfer = $1400!

        So my options are:
        1. Don’t train and practice with others
        2. Train and practice others and:
        a: hope I don’t get caught violating the law by doing what I currently do or
        b: pay out excessive fees and bear harassment level inconvenience to meet the requirements of the law.

      • Handing someone a gun for the purposes of education may or may not violate the law. I 594 states that if you do loan a weapon you must loan it to them ONLY at a legal shooting range. If someone wants to use your weapon you must go to the range with them. You cannot let them take it from your home and bring it back. And it limits shooting to ONLY lawful shooting ranges. Folks in the country can no longer shoot in the country, if they did. Unfortunately many folks aren’t civilized who live in WA state which is why legal citizens’ 2A rights must remain in place. If they continue to make it so difficult to get and/or keep a handgun only criminals will have weapons. I promise you I 594 WILL NOT stop criminals.

      • No one is claiming that I-594 will stop all criminals. In a society as awash in guns as this one, someone who is bound and determined to get their hands on a gun will find a way to do so. No argument there.

        What I-594 WIIL do is what similar laws have done elsewhere – weed out the marginal cases, the people buying guns in anger or desperation. Confronted with the prospect of a background check, such people will be forced to reconsider if this is what they really want. It will also stop many of the mentally ill who will find it hard to navigate or circumvent the system. Thousands of people each year are stopped from getting a weapon this way, and an uncountable number more are deterred from even trying. I call that success.

        Perhaps even more importantly, passing I-594 will start to change the “anything-goes” gun culture that has infected this state and nation for like, forever. A start is all it is, but it has to happen sometime if we’re ever going to get a handle on gun violence.

        As for the “transfer” issue described above, I still say it’s a red herring (I’m tempted to say the scenario described borders on paranoia, but I won’t make that claim.) NO ONE is going to be prosecuted for loaning a gun to a family member under any circumstances unless it results in a crime, and if this is truly a lacuna in I-594 (I’m not persuaded it is), the legislature will certainly fix it, most likely by a unanimous vote.

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