This Washington

Overwhelming Public Support May Not Be Enough for Gun Control Bill

Sponsor says off-the-charts polling numbers don't help.

By Josh Feit March 6, 2013


Cola freshman reporter Carryn Vande Griend wasn't impressed when Rep. Jamie Pedersen's (D-43, Capitol Hill) universal background checks bill passed out of Pederesn's house judiciary committee 7-6 two weeks ago.

In a PubliCola One Question that week with conservative house Democrat Rep. Dean Takko (D-19, Longview), one of many Democrats in the supposedly liberal house who opposes the bill, Carryn warned that gun control advocates shouldn't be too giddy about the bill's chances.

This week, as the bill is still stuck in the rules committee, NPR had the news that a deal to get gun rights advocates on board has collapsed.

Yesterday, we actually gave the bill a resuscitating Jolt because a new Elway Poll showed overwhelming support for the universal background checks—79 percent.

"It doesn't hurt, but I"m not sure it helps a lot."—Rep. Jamie PedersenHowever, in an Afternoon Jolt first, the day's winner (Rep. Pedersen) tried to talk us out of giving him our daily honor.

Here's what Pedersen, who says there are 10 to 14 legislators on the fence (he currently has 38 votes including his own, but needs 50), told us about the Elway numbers.

"It doesn't hurt, but I"m not sure it helps a lot with members," Pedersen said, explaining that the Elway numbers would be more helpful if they were "district specific," showing support in specific towns of legislators who need to be convinced.

Here's the breakdown on where people surveyed in the Elway Poll were from: 30 percent were from King County; 15 percent were from  Pierce or Kitsap; 17 percent were from North Sound (Snohomish to Whatcom); 17 percent were from Western Washington (Clallam to Clark); and 20 percent were from Eastern Washington.

In today's Seattle Times story about the faltering bill, Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9, Ritzville) confirms what Pedersen suspects about the Elway numbers.

“That’s funny,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “My email is 90 to 10 against it.”

The joke could be on Schoesler, though. 

Never mind the supposedly liberal house.  Gun control advocates should push Sen. Adam Kline's (D-37, South Seattle) sleeper companion background checks bill. Despite the fact that Sen. Schoesler's Republicans control the senate, sources tell PubliCola Kline has the votes to pass background checks on the senate floor. With Elway's numbers, Pedersen may have more bargaining power during horse trading if he has a bill in his hands that's already come over from the senate.

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