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Supporters of Gun Background Checks Submit Signatures

Austin Jenkins
Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of the 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting carries a box of Initiative 594 petitions. Stumbo is the sponsor of the measure to require universal background checks for gun sales in Washington.

Sponsors of an initiative to require universal background checks for gun sales in Washington have submitted 250,000 petition signatures, 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, a survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation shooting in Seattle.

“The gentlemen who shot me and killed my co-worker did pass a background check. 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,” she said.

In a statement, Brian Judy of Washington State Liaison for the National Rifle Association, said the initiative 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 also 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." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.