Inslee signs law to register firearm offenders

Gov. Jay Inslee today signed into law the only significant gun-related measure to pass the Legislature in regular session.

Republican Rep. Mike Hope of Lake Stevens, the prime sponsor of the bill, was the lone lawmaker to attend the signing.

Under House Bill 1612, those convicted of certain felony firearm offenses or found not guilty by reason of insanity of any felony firearm offense will be required to register with a county’s sheriff’s department. That data will be punched into a statewide database maintained by the Washington State Patrol.

The process will be similar to what is done with convicted sex offenders. However, unlike the statewide sex offender registry which is made available to the public, the data on firearm offenders will only be accessible by law enforcement agencies.

This bill needed tweaking last month in order to make it to the governor’s desk.

As introduced, the bill established a “central registry of firearm offenders.” It passed the House with this language on an 85-10 vote.

But it stalled in the Senate where Hope encountered conservative Republicans objecting strongly to the notion of a state-maintained registry of any sort involving owners or users of guns.

Once Hope agreed to replace “central registry” with “conviction database”, opposition melted and it glided through the Senate on a 41-7 vote.

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