Latest firearm legislation in Washington state focuses on protecting victims

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Brainchild of this bill, Drew Hansen

Victims in Seattle of serious crimes wait for more than an hour for police assistance. Also, Seattle neighborhoods hire their own security because police are a rare sighting in their areas. Color me skeptical that the police (at least in the larger cities) are well equipped and staffed to notify a domestic violence survivor in a timely manner.

From In 2014, Washington State voters approved universal background checks for gun buyers. But what happens to felons, domestic abusers and others who fail those background checks and illegally try to buy a gun? Not much, as it turns out. However, there’s an effort in Olympia to change that.

The idea behind House Bill 1501 began with a conversation between State Representative Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) and another lawmaker last year.

“If a criminal tries to buy a firearm from a gun store and fails a background check, does law enforcement get notified? Do domestic violence survivors get notified if criminals are ineligible because of a restraining order? Do cops on the street get notified?” Hansen asked. “The answers to those questions are no, no, and no. Our bill makes the answers to those questions yes, yes, and yes.”

The bill adds teeth to the universal background check law. “We had over 3,000 failed background checks in Washington state last year,” Hansen said. “About half of which were failed because the purchaser was a criminal or fugitive … That is a lot of dangerous people trying to buy firearms.”

“If you walk into a gun store and you know you’re ineligible and you try to buy a firearm anyway and get caught and turned down, there should be an investigation, an arrest, and, in appropriate cases, prison time.”

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg agrees. When voters passed universal background check law, there was an implied understanding that there would be consequences for someone who fails a background check, he said.

Hansen says one of the key parts of the legislation is making sure victims, especially domestic violence survivors, are notified when their abuser is trying to arm themselves.

Lying on an application is a felony, and under federal law punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Right now, however, there really isn’t much follow up happening. The legislation would target domestic abusers, felons, people who have been involuntary committed, and people with warrants.

It would also require failed background checks to be reported to local law enforcement. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs would also maintain a statewide system to handle the notifications for domestic-violence survivors.

State grants would help local police agencies pay for the needed follow-up. Prosecutors and local law-enforcement agencies, including the Seattle Police Department, support the legislation. Hansen says they worked closely with the National Rifle Association to ensure Second Amendment rights were protected.

Hansen says it passed out of the House with overwhelming bipartisan support — so he’s hopeful they’ll get this one on the books this session.



6 responses to “Latest firearm legislation in Washington state focuses on protecting victims

  1. Kevin J Lankford

    As far as I know citizens have never been asked for their input on any firearms legislation. All background laws have been the act of legislation and indifferent to citizen opinion.

    The real fact is most citizens who do fail background checks are completely unaware they are prohibited. The common mantra is “keeping guns out of the hands of [violent] felons, but the reality is they use every minor infraction they can come up with to deny a citizens Constitutional right. Totally ignoring the “Bill Of Attainder” clause of the Constitution, which makes it absolute that no citizen is to be deprived of a civil right as punishment for any act of outlawry. That means only a crime harsh enough for life in prison or actual capital punishment can restrict the exercising of a citizens rights.

    Even our old westerns expressed that simple fact, as it was well known and understood in the near past. When a prisoner was released from prison their gun and belt often was the first thing returned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Seems focused more on universal background checks (no private sales of guns) and a de facto gun registry than anything else… the least of which being the protection of anyone, let alone victims.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Um, yeah……..If I’m bound and determined then I’ll find a way to get my hands on a firearm. Especially if I’m going to use it in some felonious activity, in such case I certainly wouldn’t expose myself to a background check. The only wise choice in such case is self protection. Get over your personal fears and prejudices, educate yourself and exercise your second amendment rights. When seconds count the cops are only minutes away. A cop told me that, btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I own a registered fireararm and I have a concealed weapon’s license, purchased when Hurricane Andrew turned us upside down, it’s kept under lock and key in a very safe place, and at the ready. I learned not to fear my firearm because it protects me. Let us not forget that the firearm does not kill, it is he/she behind the trigger. Fear not a background check, the criminal element have stolen firearms.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you are too dangerous to be let out on the street with a firearm, you should not be let out on the street.


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