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Elway Poll: Wash. Background Check Measure Retains Healthy Lead

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
FILE - Elections worker Joseph MacLean moves boxes of petitions for Initiative 594 at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Washington.

A ballot measure to expand background checks for gun sales in Washington has lost some support, but still enjoys a healthy lead, according to the latest Elway Poll released Monday.

Meanwhile, a competing gun rights measure appears to be in trouble.

Initiative 594 would require background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers in Washington. Currently, only licensed firearms dealers must conduct these checks.

In July, the Elway poll had the background check measure enjoying a 70-percent approval rate. Pollster Stuart Elway says that has since dropped 10 points to 60-percent support.

“I think what’s happening is people are paying more attention to this. Certainly the ad campaigns have started now, so people are kind of sorting out what their position is,” Elway said.

Initiative 591 is the competing gun rights measure on Washington’s fall ballot. It would prohibit Washington from adopting a background check requirement that goes beyond federal law.

Elway has the initiative polling at 39 percent — down from a high of 55 percent back in April.

There’s an interesting footnote to this poll. More than half of those who say they own a gun also say they plan to vote for the expanded background check measure. 

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.