Washington Handgun Trigger Locks, Initiative 676 (1997)

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The Washington Handgun Trigger Locks Initiative, also known as Initiative 676, was on the November 4, 1997 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was defeated. The measure would have criminalized the transfer of any handgun not equipped with a trigger-lock and would have mandated the licensing of firearms.[1]

Election results

Washington Handgun Trigger Locks, Initiative 676 (1997)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,194,00470.62%
Yes 496,690 29.38%

Election results via: Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:[1]

Shall the transfer of handguns without trigger-locking devices be prohibited and persons possessing or acquiring a handgun be required to obtain a handgun safety license?[2]

Support

Arguments

A number of physicians and medical organizations presented a list of arguments in favor of the measure:[3]

  • Passing the measure would prevent unintentional deaths and injuries, especially to children.
  • The rate of child mortality by firearms went down 23 percent in states with felony laws requiring gun storage.
  • The measure can regulate the gun industry without encroaching upon constitutional rights.
  • The top eight gun manufactures in the nation support trigger-locks on handguns.

Contributions

William H. Gates, the father of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, donated $150,000 towards the passage of Initiative 676. Bill and Melinda Gates earlier contributed $35,000 to the cause. The Washington Citizens for Handgun Safety raised $575,658 by September 1997.[4]

Opposition

Arguments

Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart presented a list of arguments in opposition to the measure:[5]

  • The measure, if passed, would be difficult to enforce and would drain law-enforcement budgets.
  • Offenses for an individual breaking the measure's rules and regulations are too strong.
  • The measure would create more government bureaucracy.
  • The public should education on gun control, not forced government classes and regulations.

Contributions

Ameripac, a federal-level political action committee, contributed $100,000 to opposing Initiative 676.[4] Gun rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association, contributed more than $2.3 million in opposition to the measure.[6]

Path to the ballot

Initiative 676 was filed on February 3, 1997 by Thomas C. Wales of Seattle. 239,805 signatures were collected to qualify it for the ballot. The measure was placed on the ballot as provided for by the state constitution.[7]

See also

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References


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