A new Elway Poll found 72 percent of voters support I-594, a November ballot measure that would require background checks of all gun sales, including at currently unregulated gun shows.
The same poll, of 500 voters, also found support for the diametrically opposed measure, I-591, which is also on the statewide ballot this fall: 55 percent of voters support I-591, which would prohibit background checks on firearms beyond federal standards.
Overall, to sort through the confusion, Elway asked a clarifying question: "Just to be clear, do you favor more extensive background checks for gun sales? Or do you favor keeping the background check system as it is?"
In that runoff, 62 percent favored more extensive background checks, Elway says.
Coming at it from the other direction, Elway found that I-591 drew stronger opposition: 23 percent were planning to vote against the anti-background check measure while just 9 percent said they planned to vote against I-594, the expanded gun control measure.
Elway also identified a shift in attitudes (toward more gun control) by sifting through the data. The poll summary explains a net shift of eight points in favor of gun control from polling last year.
Last March, 55% of Washington voters said that “protecting the right of Americans to own guns” was more important than “controlling gun ownership”; while 37% said controlling gun owner rights was more important than protecting gun owners’ rights. Last week, 50% said protecting gun rights was more important vs. 40% who said controlling gun ownership was more important. That represents a net shift of 8 points toward controlling gun ownership, although a bare majority still said protecting gun rights was the more important consideration.
If both measures pass, the legislature and perhaps the Washington State Supreme Court would have to figure out a solution. (The legilsature held emotionally charged hearings on both initiatives earlier this year—former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot at point blank range in 2011, testified—but failed to act on either one, automatically sending both measures to the ballot box this fall.)
In the aftermath of 2013's Sany Hook tragedy, the legislature failed to take up a pro-background check bill last year when the Democratic house couldn't muster support within its own caucus to send it to the floor.
In the past week, there have been high profile shootings at Ft. Hood (again) and at a Jewish Commuity Center outside Kansas City.