Washington state voters are supporting stricter background checks on gun sales in the wake of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting last week. More than half of the state's voters said they would definitely vote yes next week on Iniative 594, which would mandate criminal background checks for anyone buying firearms online or at gun shows, according to KCTS-9 poll results released Wednesday.
Washington actually has two competing gun-related mesaures on its midterm ballot. Initiative 594, which requires background checks on all gun sales, would close the "gun show loophole." Initiative 591, however, would forbid the state from requesting background checks any harsher than the ones called for under federal law, the Seattle Times reported.
Results showed that 52 percent of respondents were certain they would vote yes on I-594. About 9 percent said they planned to vote yes, but their opinion could change, and about 3 percent were undecided but leaning toward voting yes. About 26 percent said they were certain they'd vote no.
On the flip side, about 34 percent of voters said they were certain they'd vote yes on I-591. Roughly the same amount said they were certain they'd vote no.
The KCTS-9 poll was conducted from Oct. 17 to Oct. 24. The day the poll finished, freshman Jaylen Fryberg opened fire in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria. He killed two 14-year-old girls, Zoe Galasso and Gia Soriano, and himself. Three other students were injured, and two of them remain in critical condition.
Fryberg used a .40-caliber Beretta handgun belonging to one of his relatives. The gun was legally bought and registered, police told the Seattle Times, but it's unclear how Fryberg got the weapon.
With midterms approaching, gun rights groups are fighting the notion that a law like I-594 could prevent the Marysville incident, Reuters reported. Regardless of background check laws, they said, 15-year-old Fryberg was too young to buy a gun.
It's not unusual for the public to want to tighten gun control after a shooting, University of Washington political science professor Matt Barreto told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “The spate of unconscionable school shootings across the country, and now here in Marysville, has left voters ready to take responsible action on gun issues,” Barreto said. “We saw the same thing in 2012-2013 following the Newtown killings. There was widespread public support for background checks; however, the U.S. Congress failed to get anything done.”