Dueling WA gun initiatives get national attention

Credit: Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) arrives before U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address on January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC.

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

kgw.com

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 10:54 AM

As state lawmakers consider two new gun initiatives, a national figure in the gun debate will make an appearance in Olympia Tuesday.

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is expected to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, in favor of expanding background checks. Giffords, a Democrat was shot and gravely wounded during a public event in Arizona in January 2001. Six people were killed and a dozen other were injured in the rampage.

Since the shooting, Giffords has put herself at the center of the gun debate, traveling to states across the country in an effort to tighten gun restrictions.

She supports I-594, an initiative that would expand background checks on all gun sales in Washington state, closing the so-called 'gun show loophole.'

Lawmakers are also considering I-591, which would ban any additional background checks.

These dueling initiatives won't likely be acted upon in Olympia with so much divide among state lawmakers. Both have enough signatures to be put on a November ballot where voters will have the final say.

That could create a dilemma for the state. If both competing initiatives are approved by voters, Washington State is largely in uncharted territory said Hugh Spitzer, law professor at the University of Washington.

"It would likely be up to the state Supreme Court," Spitzer says. "Maybe the court would borrow from some other approaches, and say the one with the greater number of votes prevails. Maybe the legislature might would try to come in and fix it with a 2/3 vote in the house. We just don't know."

The public will have a chance to weigh in during a separate public hearing set for Wednesday, before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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