Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Initiative 594 (2014)

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Washington Initiative 594
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Type:Initiative to the Legislature
Referred by:Citizens
Status:On the ballot
The Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Initiative 594, is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Washington as an Initiative to the Legislature.

If approved by voters, the measure would require background checks to be run on every person purchasing a gun in the state of Washington, even those who are doing so via private sales. However, transfers of antique guns and those between immediate family members would be exempt from the background checks. The measure also requires that dealers who are facilitating gun transfers, be they through the licensed dealer or a private seller, receive confirmation in writing from the chief of police or sheriff that the purchaser in question "is eligible to possess a pistol [...] and that the application to purchase is approved by the chief of police or sheriff." Furthermore, the initiative would render it illegal to hand off a firearm to people outside a person's immediate family, though exceptions are mentioned, including situations in which people are at a shooting range or hunting.[1][2]

Text of measure

The certified ballot title reads as follows:[2]

This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ][3]


Current law requires criminal and public safety background checks before purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. This measure would extend this requirement to most firearm purchases and transfers in Washington, with exceptions, including transfers within families, temporary transfers for self-defense and hunting, and antiques. Licensed dealers would conduct the background checks and could charge a fee. Violation of these requirements would be a crime.[4]


Currently, background checks in Washington state are required only for sales by licensed firearm dealers. Therefore, background checks do not apply to private gun sales. Opponents to I-594 filed a competing initiative, I-591, which seeks to prevent the government from confiscating firearms without due process and implementing background checks deemed more stringent than those at the federal level.[4][5]



Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is leading the campaign in support of the initiative.[6]



  • Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility[7]
  • Washington Cease Fire
  • United Methodist Church
  • Faith Action Network
  • Jewish Council for Public Addairs
  • Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center
  • Washington State Catholic Conference[8]


The National Rifle Association (NRA) will likely oppose the initiative, as the group has historically felt that gun control laws adversely affect citizens who obtain guns legally, as opposed to criminals.[1]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Washington Initiative 594 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Elway Poll
4/9/2014 - 4/13/2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Washington

In order to qualify for the November 2014 ballot, supporters were required to submit a minimum of 246,372 valid signatures by January 3, 2014. According to Washington law, the number of signatures required to land a measure on the ballot must be equal to or greater than 8 percent of the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the most recent previous election.[1]

According to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the organization has collected 275,362 as of October 31, 2013.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Related measures

See also

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