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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."

Wash. Gun Background Check Supporters Submit Petitions

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

Sponsors of an initiative to require universal background checks for gun sales in Washington have submitted 250,000 petition signatures. That’s the minimum needed to put the measure before the legislature in January.

If lawmakers fail to act, voters would see it on the ballot a year from now.

Supporters of Initiative 594 cheered as boxes of petitions were rolled into the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

Wheeling the cart was Cheryl Stumbo. She’s a survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shooting in Seattle.

"The gentleman who shot me and killed my co-worker did pass a background check," Stumbo said. "But if background checks are in place a lot of people’s lives are going to be saved, and so whether or not it would affected my shooting doesn’t matter to me. This is about saving as many lives as we can."

In a statement, Brian Judy, Washington state liaison for the National Rifle Association, said Initiative 594 would be "unenforceable" and "ineffective in preventing criminals from obtaining firearms."

Sponsors of Initiative 594 say they plan to submit another 75,000 signatures in the coming weeks to ensure the measure is certified.

Meanwhile, a group called Protect Our Gun Rights is collecting signatures for a competing initiative. It would prohibit the Washington from conducting background checks unless a uniform national requirement is adopted.

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."