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Gun measures face tight deadline to qualify for ballot

Initiative-1639 would raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21, require enhanced background checks and impose safe-storage standards for guns. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Court challenges have just cleared, and now campaign organizers have just 29 days to get enough signatures to qualify tough new gun restrictions for the November ballot.

Initiative-1639 would raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21, require enhanced background checks and impose safe-storage standards for guns.

Now that the legal fight has been settled challenging the language in the bill, a signature drive can move forward to qualify it for the ballot. The initiative needs nearly 260,000 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify, but organizers are shooting to collect 350,000.

Given that the deadline is July 6, that puts this group on pace to collect 12,000 signatures every day.

“A significant portion of that will be accomplished by paid signature gatherers,” said i-1639 campaign chairman Stephen Paolini.

The campaign is armed with more than $3 million, and it’s expected the group will pay top dollar to get the signatures it needs in time. Paolini said the pay-off on such a huge investment is clear.

“Safe schools and safe communities," Paolini said.

However, groups opposed to the gun control measures are forming their own strategies. Phil Watson, the committee chairman for Save Our Security/No on I-1639 posted this statement on the group’s website:

“Today a Thurston County judge approved some highly biased ballot language for I-1639; the newest billionaire-backed gun control initiative aimed directly at infringing on your ability to purchase, own, and protect yourself with a firearm even in your own home. You’ll likely see people as soon as this evening gathering signatures for the I-1639 ballot measure. These are paid operatives that get paid a lot of money to gather these signatures! Many of these folks are from out-of-state and will often lie about these initiatives simply to get signatures and get paid. I-1639 is a 30-page initiative and obviously most people will not read it before they’re suckered into signing. The high-paid consultants and billionaires behind I-1639 are running an unethical scam and it’s our civic duty to alert the public to it. Your Mission: Decline to Sign I-1639!”

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