The nation's major gun-control ballot initiative this year, in Washington State, is drawing big money and star-power names like Bill Gates and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as backers. The New York Times says the defining aspect is confusion because there are two gun measures on the ballot, side by side, and they are diametrically opposed. Initiative 594 would impose background checks of gun buyers in private sales and at gun shows. Initiative 591 would forbid state expansion of background checks beyond the current federal law.
If both pass, they would effectively cancel each other out, throwing the question to the state legislature or courts, neither of which would have a legal road map to guide them. Polls show that considerable numbers of people, out of confusion or strategic thinking, plan to vote yes on both or no on both. It is also possible that many people, in frustration, will walk away without voting on either measure. Washington's two proposals are the first to face voters in any statewide election since the 2012 Newtown, Ct., school shootings, which killed 26 people, including 20 children. Of the $19 million raised for all Washington ballot measures this year, by far the largest amount — $13 million — has poured into the duel over guns.