Washington State Activists Launch Ballot Petition To Get Universal Background Checks

Activists in Washington State began an effort this week to push their state legislature to create universal background checks on all gun purchases, including online sales and private transfers.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility started collecting the 246,000 signatures needed by January in order for the initiative to advance. Should it garner enough signatures, the effort will first go to the legislature for approval. If the legislature rejects it, the initiative will then go onto the November 2014 ballot.

A legislative effort to pass expanded background checks fell apart in Washington state this spring, but the ballot initiative method may yield different results. The group already has ample funding — about a million dollars, according to the Seattle Times — and wide support: Seventy-nine percent of Washington state voters support expanding background checks on all firearm sales.

Given the recent struggle over background checks, it’s likely to become a wedge issue for voters in upcoming elections.