Initiative 59 In Washington State Just Got A Huge Boost From Bill & Melinda Gates

Initiative 59, a gun control campaign in the state of Washington calls for background checks for all gun transfers and sales. Now, it's picking up steam, because Bill and Melinda Gates just donated $1 million to Initiative 59. The Gates' made the donation on Friday, but the information wasn't disclosed to the public until Monday on Washington state's Public Disclosure Commission website. So far, $6 million has been donated to the Initiative 594 campaign, which will be placed on the November ballot.

If this initiative became law, background checks would be required for any and all gun transfers as well as sales in the state, the AP reported. That includes private sales and gun shows around the state. However, exceptions would be made — if a gun purchased is an antique, for example, or a family member decides to give his or her gun to another family member as a gift.

The Gates join others in making their donation, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who donated $500,000 to the initiative a few weeks ago, as well as former Microsoft CEO turned Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer ($580,000 donation), and Venture capitalist and original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer ($1.4 million donation).

In a statement, the Gates' said:

We are pleased to join many others making a donation to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to support Initiative 594 on the November ballot. We believe it will be an effective and balanced approach to improving gun safety in our state by closing existing loopholes for background checks.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In poll results released in July, 70 percent of potential voters in Washington state were supportive of the initiative. But there's a twist: There's a challenging initiative, known as Initiative 591, which would restrict Washington State from implementing stronger background check requirements than what's already required by the federal government.

In the same poll, only 46 percent of potential voters were in favor of Initiative 591, to which $1 million has been donated.