This November, Washington State has an opportunity to speak out about how we handle guns. There are two initiatives on the ballot dealing with gun sales and gun safety – here at the Political Junkie we will be taking a close look at both initiatives over the next week or so.
The Basics: Sometimes called the “Universal Background Check” effort, this initiative would require a background check when selling a gun to another person, including online sales and at gun shows. This includes filing the proper paperwork, going through a licensed dealer and (obviously) not selling the firearm if they are ineligible to have one. Failure to do so will result in a Class C felony.
Exemptions: The initiative also includes a long list of exemptions where a background check is not required. This includes:
- a gift between family members (including inheritance)
- antique firearms
- anything involving a law enforcement officer transferring a weapon as part of their duties
- lending a firearm in life and death situations for self-defense
- borrowing a friend’s firearm at a shooting range or gun competition
- between spouses or domestic partners
- while legally hunting
Setting aside those situations, a background check would be required for the sale or transfer of a firearm if this initiative passes.
Who: The organization supporting this initiative is the “Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility” and it has been endorsed by a variety of healthcare, and social action groups (including the Washington League of Women Voters and WA National Association of Mental Illness). It is financially supported by Bill and Melinda Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Balmer.
The Basics: This initiative, aimed at protecting “Gun Rights”, is an effort to forbid the government’s ability to regulate firearms. It would do two things:
- Make it illegal for law enforcement to confiscate a firearm without due process
- Forbid any government agency from requiring a background check unless it is required by federal law
Yes, for those following along at home, this initiative would cancel out Initiative 594 if it passes. Or at least give the Supreme Court something to consider rather than whether or not to arrest the entire state legislature.
Exemptions: This initiative does not have any exemptions, just one last section that says if one part of it is struck down, the rest is still valid.
Who: Aside from the usual collection of gun enthusiast organizations, this bill is also supported by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriff’s which includes Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff’s association and the Bellingham Police Guild. It is financially supported by the Washington Arms Collectors and 2nd amendment groups.
Later this week, we will take a closer look at the rhetoric used by both sides of this debate.