Washington’s background check law blocks 50 gun purchases

SEATTLE — Records from the FBI show that Washington’s new background check law blocked 50 gun purchases by felons during its first 14 months in effect.

The FBI’s criminal background check databased showed nearly 4,000 felons were caught trying to buy a firearm in Washington last year after the implementation of the state’s gun law, including the 50 private sales that are now regulated because of Initiative 594, KING-TV reported.

The law, which passed in November 2014, created universal background checks for all gun sales, including those between private citizens. Guns sold by licensed firearms dealers, like gun shops, have long required background checks.

State records show there haven’t been any prosecutions related to I-594.

Supporters of the law say the 50 denials prove the law is working. Others say it’s an inconvenience to gun owners and hasn’t been effective in punishing felons who break the law.

The Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights organization in Bellevue, called 50 an infinitesimal number and proof that I-594 isn’t working.

“It just proves to me that the initiative was a lot of flash and not much substance,” Second Amendment’s Dave Workman said.

Workman said the initiative is an inconvenience to more than a million Washington gun owners and it has not been effective in punishing felons who break the law.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility disagreed.

“We know that private sale background checks are being performed and now we know that it is actually preventing sales to prohibited people,” the Alliance’s Joanna Paul told KUOW radio.

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