gun control

About two dozen gun retailers are located in Seattle. Opponents of the proposed tax on sales of firearms and ammunition say it would cause buyers and ultimately shops to go outside the city.
Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle’s City Council will take aim at gun violence Monday with a vote on a pair of gun safety measures. One would tax sales of firearms and ammunition. The other would require owners to report lost or stolen guns.

City Council President Tim Burgess proposed the measures. The former Seattle police detective says firearms put an undue burden on communities.

“Gun violence begets gun violence,” Burgess said, “which is a huge problem in our city and frankly in our entire state. And we’re trying to take common sense, reasonable steps to address that.”   

He argues getting sellers to chip in to break the cycle of violence is one such step.

The revenue from the tax would be dedicated to prevention programs and research, such as was carried out in 2013 by doctors at Seattle’s Harborview Medical center, where last year alone, the city says the cost for treating victims of shootings totaled $17 million.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gun shop owners in Seattle say a proposed tax on sales could force them to move or go out of business. The Seattle City Council is considering placing a $25 tax on every gun sold and a 5-cent tax on every round of ammunition purchased in the city.

The money from the guns and ammo tax would be used to pay for gun violence research and prevention, which would be conducted at Harborview Medical Center. 

City officials estimate the new tax would collect between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. But, at a city council hearing, bun shop customer Ken Stok, said the measure is unlikely to bring in much money at all.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

There are two gun initiatives on the Washington ballot. Initiative 594 and Initiative 591 both have to do with background checks on gun buyers.

The battle over the initiatives is a classic fight between gun control advocates who say more regulation will limit gun violence and gun rights activists who fear a loss of their Second Amendment “right to bear arms.”

Supporters of a Washington gun control measure on the November ballot may have just gotten a mid-summer boost. They’re capitalizing on an audio recording that recently surfaced.

The hard-to-understand audio recording first appeared on the left-wing blog “Horses Ass.” The blog’s author said the audio is of NRA lobbyist Brian Judy speaking recently to a pro-gun group. Judy questioned Jewish people who are anti-guns.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The secretary of state's office has officially certified one gun-related initiative to the Legislature and is starting review of signatures on another.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman certified the results for Initiative 594 on Wednesday. That measure would require universal background checks on all firearm sales in Washington. Nearly 347,000 signatures were submitted for the initiative, far more than the minimum requirement of 246,372.

Austin Jenkins / KPLU

Washington voters can expect dueling gun-related measures on next fall’s ballot. Sponsors of a gun rights initiative submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday. 

Thirteen boxes labeled “Save Your Gun: Yes on 591” were loaded onto a cart and trucked into the Washington Secretary of State’s Office. Initiative 591 would prohibit the state from confiscating a gun without due process. It would also bar state background checks that go beyond federal standards.

Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

Bill and Melinda Gates have each contributed $25,000 to the campaign to require background checks for most gun sales in Washington. The couple’s personal contributions late last month helped push the Yes on Initiative 594 campaign over the $1 million mark.

Austin Jenkins

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.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

The secretary of state's office says that advocates seeking to expand the use of background checks on gun sales plan to submit their petition signatures for an initiative to the Legislature next week.

David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, said Friday that supporters of Initiative 594 have made an appointment to turn in their signatures at 9 a.m. Wednesday, nearly three months before the Jan. 3 deadline.

Gun control advocates in Washington are launching an initiative campaign after state lawmakers declined to expand background checks on gun sales.

The group Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced its plans Monday. Supporters will need to collect nearly 250,000 valid signatures, with state officials recommending the submission of more than 300,000 to account for duplicates and invalid signatures.

After struggling to sway both state and federal lawmakers, proponents of expanding background checks for gun sales are now exploring whether they will have more success by taking the issue directly to voters.

While advocates generally prefer that new gun laws get approval through the legislative process, they are also concerned about how much sway the National Rifle Association has with lawmakers.

Senate Republicans backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats scuttled the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades Wednesday, rejecting tighter background checks for buyers and a ban on assault weapons as they spurned pleas from families of victims of last winter's school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

"This effort isn't over," President Barack Obama vowed at the White House moments after the defeat on one of his top domestic priorities. Surrounded by Newtown relatives, he said opponents of the legislation in both parties "caved to the pressure" of special interests.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Gov. Inslee disappointed with fate of gun bill Gov. Jay Inslee says he is disappointed that a proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has stalled, but says he'll continue making phone calls on the issue.

After the issue locked up the House for much of the day Tuesday, the bill ultimately was not brought out for a vote and its sponsors conceded they could not get majority support for the measure, even with a proposed referendum clause that would have allowed the public to vote on the measure.

M Glasgow / Flickr

A proposal to expand background checks on Washington state gun sales has failed in the state House.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle said Tuesday night he was unable to corral the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill through the chamber. Pedersen says he was disappointed by the result, coming even after he agreed to add a referendum clause to the bill.


The Pasco School District decided to overturn the suspension of a first-grader who was sent home for talking about toy guns.

The district determined no discipline was warranted after talking with the parents.

The father, Mike Aguirre, told the Tri-City Herald his son Noah was punished for talking about Nerf guns and there's no evidence he threatened to harm another student.

The 6-year-old was suspended Feb. 28 at James McGee Elementary School. The district said Wednesday the incident will be erased from his record.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A bill to require background checks for private gun sales is one step closer to a final vote. Tuesday, members of a Washington House committee voted seven to six.

Republican Rep. Jay Rodne opposed the bill, saying it would not be enforceable.

“We’re going to drain precious law enforcement resources to policing this measure,” he says.

But, Republican Rep. Mike Hope, a police officer, said this measure could help prevent shootings like what happened in Newtown, Conn.

Divine Harvester / Flickr

The debate over gun control may be focused on the nation’s capital, but one local official says King County will soon take measures of its own.

About 125 people die each year of gun violence in King County. Executive Dow Constantine says the way a county government can chip away at that number is through a public health approach. He announced in his state of the county address that he is directing the health department to collect new data on gun deaths and injuries.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic lawmakers in both Washington and Oregon are working on measures to require background checks for all gun sales. A universal check proposal was introduced Wednesday in the Washington House. A similar bill is expected in the Oregon Senate soon.

Joshua Trujillo / AP

Seven hundred and sixteen guns were collected at Saturday’s gun buyback program in Seattle. But officials say they are disturbed by the large number of private gun buyers the event attracted.

Mayor Mike McGinn says he was shocked by what he describes as the “gaggles” of private gun buyers who showed up to tempt people away from the long lines and gift cards and offer them cash for their weapons.

“We had a gun bazaar break out of the streets of Seattle outside of a gun buyback. That was just insane."

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

Seattle’s first effort in 20 years to give people money for turning in guns was so popular on Saturday it ran out of gift cards and had to end early. But even if you were one of the people who didn’t get there early enough, there were lots of opportunities outside the event to get money for your weapons.


Century Link field is telling off-duty police officers attending Seahawks games and other events at the Seattle stadium to leave their guns at home.

The management says Century Link Field is safe because of an abundance of uniformed officers at events.

KOMO reports the new policy isn't sitting well with officers.

Hattie Lewis

Downtown Seattle's Westlake Park filled up with hundreds of people Sunday who came out to show their support for gun-control legislation. One of those attending was Jack Severns from Kent who wants to see a ban on assault weapons.

"I've owned guns since I was 12 years old but I want to see them used correctly."

Many at the rally talked about revisiting the second amendment.

The rally, called StandUp Washington, included speakers, music and remembrances for those lost in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

"We are sending a rep to hear what they have to say," National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says of the organization's decision to accept an invitation from the task force Vice President Biden is leading — the group that's studying gun laws and related issues in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Con

sadaton / Flickr

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine say there’s not much they can do about gun laws. Past efforts to ban firearms in parks have failed because they’re preempted by state laws. But they say they can revive an idea last tried in Seattle twenty years ago: a gun buyback program.

They hope to get hundreds of weapons off the streets with a privately-funded effort.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle-area clergy from many faiths are presenting a united front against gun violence, demanding specific measures from elected leaders. Representing churches and synagogues, seminaries, mosques and Sikh temples, the religious leaders say it’s time to move beyond simply mourning the slaughter of 26 people in Newtown Connecticut. They say now it’s time for action.

Evoking a string of mass killings, including one in Seattle last spring, the clergy made the case for changing laws and changing attitudes. Imam Abdullah Polovina is with the Islamic Center of Shoreline.

What gun control could look like

Dec 17, 2012

In a pair of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has made it clear that Americans have a constitutional right to own handguns for self-defense. But the court will nonetheless allow "reasonable regulations" on firearms.

The country appears set, following the mass shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., to have a debate about what restrictions should be put in place.

Members of Congress have already signaled their intent to introduce gun-control legislation next year, which President Obama has indicated in recent days will be a priority.

Internet persona / Flickr

In a rare show of solidarity, gun control and gun rights groups are joining forces to pass tougher gun laws for juvenile offenders in Washington. 

At a news conference with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, representatives of Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Washington CeaseFire spoke in favor of proposed legislation that would require juveniles convicted of illegal gun possession to be locked up on the first offense.