Washington Gov. Jay Inslee sought out on-the-fence House members of both parties today to persuade them to vote for expanded background checks on gun buyers.
The full House could take up the proposal sometime after 3 p.m. today if Democrats believe they have the votes. They need 50 of them, and Rep. Jamie Pedersen says he is confident of just 47. Several of the other 54 Democrats are balking, and Rep. Mike Hope is about the only sure supporter on the Republican side.
“I think this is a case where legislators are struggling,” Inslee said. “We know that some people have tried to use fear to convince people to vote against this, thinking that your hunting shotgun some day will be jeopardized. I think if legislators vote on common sense and confidence and the general principle that felons do not deserve to have firearms, they’ll vote for this and a majority will pass it. I hope that’ll be the case.”
That would send it to the Senate, where it’s difficult to see a path for success of the bill. A committee where it would normally start is stacked with GOP opponents of gun control, notably Chairman Mike Padden, who has declined to talk about his views on the background-checks bill but said it probably has “a tough row to hoe.”
Inslee talked to a colleague from his days in Congress this morning: former Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords. They are of like mind on closing the so-called gun-show loophole that exempts certain gun sales from background checks into their criminal and mental-health histories.
Stopping to talk to reporters, Inslee alluded to a poll that found broad support for such measures and he tried to pose them as simple “common sense,” a phrase he used six times. “I’ve just been talking with legislators asking them to step up to the plate and vote with the vast majority of the people of the state of Washington and not let fear lead us astray.”
The liberal group Fuse said today it has deployed more than 5,000 e-mails or phone calls to “swing legislators” from their actual constituents — including Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor and Jan Angel of Port Orchard. According to a Seattle Times story, others from the South Sound seen as swing votes include David Sawyer and Steve Kirby of Tacoma and Linda Kochmar of Federal Way.