'Tracking the truth' of gun initiative TV ads

SEATTLE -- The general election is a month away and already the airwaves are flooded with ads for two controversial gun initiatives.

I-594 and I-591 would create two different background check systems for gun purchases here in Washington.

Initiative 594

I-594 is being pushed by gun control advocates.  It would create a universal background check system for all gun purchases, not just those at licensed firearms dealers.  Here’s a key part of the group's recent TV ad:

Criminals who fail a background check can simply go on-line or to a gun show and buy a gun from a stranger.”  

We are labeling this claim:  Mostly True.

Things would indeed change under I-594, but what the advertisement doesn’t tell you is that there are many gun shows here in Washington that already conduct background checks for anyone who buys a firearm at their events.  So, the situation is not as uncontrolled as this ad suggests.

Initiative 591

I-591 is being pushed by gun rights advocates who are worried about any changes to the current gun background check system.

Their main purpose is to keep Washington’s gun background checks consistent with the current federal system.  And right now the feds require background checks only when guns are purchased at a licensed firearms dealer.  So, I-591 would, in effect, preserve the status quo.

But the biggest claim in advertising for I-591 involves something different.  This is from their latest TV ad:

Stop gun confiscation without due process.”

We are calling this claim Mostly False.

There isn’t arbitrary gun confiscation here in Washington State.  Only in limited circumstances are firearms taken away by law enforcement.  If someone is a convicted felon, if they have been involuntarily committed, or if they have a restraining order.  The ad suggests something needs to be stopped that isn’t happening here in Washington and wouldn’t be allowed under the federal constitution.