Lawmakers alter gun-control bill to ease concerns

OLYMPIA — In order to ease the concerns of gun owners, Washington lawmakers seeking to expand background checks for gun sales have made a series of changes to their proposal.

Under a revised bill considered during a committee hearing Wednesday, lawmakers say agencies that conduct background checks would have to destroy records of the search once it’s complete. Opponents of the bill had expressed concern that the transaction records would essentially provide a foundation for a registry of gun owners.

Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said he received hundreds of emails related to the bill. Some were generic emails or form letters, but he said others included reasonable suggestions.

“There are quite a few people who were very thoughtful,” Pedersen said. “Those comments resulted in the changes.”

The new bill also allows private parties to bypass the background check if the buyer already has a concealed pistol license. People involved in a transaction can also skip the background check if a request for such information goes unanswered for three days, responding to concerns that the federal system could be unavailable for periods of time. The new measure also removes a provision that allowed a state agency to request that more detailed information be submitted as part of the background check process.

At its core, the bill is designed to require background checks for private gun transactions. People already have to undergo a background check if they purchase a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer, but supporters of the measure are concerned that criminals and mentally ill people can simply seek out a private transaction in order to acquire weapons.

Opponents, however, said criminals will still find ways to get guns.

Despite the changes, Brian Judy, the Washington state liaison for the National Rifle Association, said he still had concerns about the bill. He believes that local law enforcement would be unable to conduct background checks and that gun dealers may lose money on the proposed $20 fee for conducting the checks, essentially freezing private gun transactions.

He argued that it would disproportionately impact law-abiding citizens.

“This is a misdirected program,” Judy said. “It’s not going to work.”

House lawmakers are looking to move ahead with the measure next week. It has support on the committee of Republican Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle police officer previously supported by the NRA. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs also supports the idea.

It’s not clear if the measure has the votes to pass in the state Senate, where Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, of Ritzville, indicated that the measure wouldn’t have much support in his caucus.

“I think it’s highly divisive and it’s not broadly supported,” he said.

More in Local News

It’s hard to find a parking spot at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Most Read