Initiative 594, which requires background checks for all gun
purchases in Washington state, whether at gun shows, online or
through transfers, was voted into law with about 60 percent support,
according to election results.
The initiative was opposed by gun rights advocates who championed a
competing measure that would have barred the state from enacting
tighter background check requirements than in place at the federal
Opinion polls had consistently shown the winning measure was popular
among voters. It gained more attention last month after a school
shooting in Marysville, 35 miles north of Seattle, in which three
girls and a student gunman were killed. Two boys were badly wounded.
Washington state becomes the seventh state, plus the District of
Columbia, to require universal background checks for gun buyers,
though it is the first state to pass such legislation through a
statewide popular vote.
"Washington has made a significant commitment to gun safety for
all," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a proponent of the measure, said
after results were released.
"As the first state to pass this by popular vote, Washington has
sent a message of hope to other states that progress is possible,"
The competing ballot measure, Initiative 591, was rejected by about
54 percent of voters.
Gun control advocates maintain that tightened background checks
reduces gun violence, including the number of women killed in
domestic violence situations and the number of police officers shot
while on duty.
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Pro-gun groups said increased background checks could infringe on
Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms and allows for state
intrusion into temporary firearm loans to friends and family.
Gun groups also argued that universal background checks at the state
level are not consistent with federal law, with Congress blocking
legislation to expand background checks following the 2012 shooting
at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.
Since the tragedy, in which 20 children and six adults were killed,
several states have moved to tighten gun control measures and
background checks at the local level.
Washington, D.C., California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New
York and Rhode Island require universal background checks.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and
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