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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Gun Control Advocates File Background Check Initiative

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

Gun control supporters in Washington have filed an initiative to the legislature to require background checks for all gun sales. The move Tuesday follows a failed effort earlier this year at the Capitol to enact a universal background check measure.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is the group behind the initiative. But it was filed by Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of a 2006 shooting at Seattle’s Jewish Federation.

“I was shot once with a hollow point bullet at pointblank range," she says. "The result of that was 20 surgeries over a three year period and many, many months of PTSD therapy.”

Stumbo says universal background checks would not have stopped the Jewish Federation shooter – who lawfully purchased his gun at a dealer. But she says it would be selfish on her part not to support an effort she believes will prevent other shootings.

Sponsors have until next January to collect nearly 250,000 valid voter signatures. If they succeed the initiative would first go to the legislature and then to the ballot if lawmakers don’t act on it.

The National Rifle Association opposes universal background checks calling them a burden on law-abiding citizens.

On the Web:

Initiative: Background Checks for Gun Sales - Washington Secretary of State
Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility - official site
NRA background checks FAQ - National Rifle Association

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."