A gun control ballot measure expected in the upcoming elections in Washington State could turn law-abiding citizens into criminals by the thousands at places like gun shows and gun ranges.
According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), Ballot Initiative 594 could make the act of simply lending one’s gun to another person without a background check by a licensed dealer, at a firing range, for example, illegal.
The NRA contends that I-594, if passed, would make it that essentially each time a firearm changes hands, the transfer would have to be processed through a licensed dealer. As a result of the paperwork of almost every temporary transfer, the dealer to dealer must complete the Pistol Transfer Application. A copy of the application “which RCW 9.41.110(9) requires be sent to the Department of Licensing for inclusion in the state database of law-abiding handgun owners,” the NRA says.
Additionally, the NRA says that there are virtually no exceptions in I-594. For example, a loan exemption is not made for family members or friends, even if the gun owner is present during the time the firearm is used by the friend of family member.
Loaning one’s firearm to an adult family member for self-defense would be considered illegal, as well as loaning a shotgun to an adult friend to go hunting one day. Although an individual can “gift” a firearm to a family member, lending or selling the gun to that same family member is outlawed under I-594. Concealed Pistol License holders, who must be finger-printed for their licenses, are also not exempt.
“This (ballot measure) is being marketed by the Bloomberg gun control machine as a means of reducing gun violence in the state of Washington. In reality, it won’t. Don’t take our word for it. Take the words of the men and women in law enforcement [in Washington state],” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanadam told Breitbart News.
The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) came out against I-594 in a statement over the summer, saying their membership opposed the 18-page initiative. WACOPS says I-594, although marketed as a public safety measure, “will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally. They will continue to ignore the law and engage in black market transactions.”
WACOPS also points to the deluge of background checks, investigations, and arrests law enforcement would have to engage in.
“The restrictive compliance measures for transfers and loans of guns will cause law abiding citizens to unintentionally commit crimes and possibly be convicted of gross misdemeanors or Class C felonies.”
The state police organization notes the measure could very well create a gun registry, and “if it does not the background checks are useless for enforcement. If it does, it is an infringement on the privacy rights of gun owners.”
On the other hand, a competing pro-second amendment ballot initiative called I-591 is supported by WACOPS. The initiative states that it is unlawful for any government agency to require background checks on an individual receiving a firearm unless a uniform national standard is necessary. I-591 also makes it illegal for any government agency to confiscate guns or other firearms from people without due process.
“This measure protects background check uniformity, allows debate to continue on the federal level and will allow WA state standards to change if or when, federal standards change,” WACOPS said in a statement.
Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility says that I-594 “would apply the currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.” The group dismisses the NRA’s claims that the initiative would restrict any second amendment rights of legal gun owners.
The section 3(4)(f) of I-594 lays out three exemptions for a loan or temporary transfer of a firearm, that gun control activists site. However, the NRA responded to the exemption section and points out that a transfer exemption only mentions spouses or domestic partners. The gun rights organization says the exemption list “doesn’t include (as does the bona fide gift exception) parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles.”
These and any other family members must undergo the paperwork and background check requirements unless they fall within one of the other exceptions. A sister who wishes to loan a firearm to a brother to keep for self-defense, or a relative who wants to do the same for a parent or grandparent, must comply with the paperwork and background check procedures.
A temporary transfer that occurs, “and the firearm is kept at all times, at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located,” is exempted. “An established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction” is not defined. This will not apply to people who bring their own firearms to a shooting range and allow others to try them or handle them, and take their own firearms home again.
A temporary transfer when the person’s possession of the firearm is entirely at a lawful organized competition involving the use of a firearm, or while participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance, is exempted. A temporary transfer to a youth under 18 years of age for lawful hunting, sporting, or educational purposes while under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult who is not prohibited from possessing firearms, is exempted. “Direct supervision” and “responsible adult” are not defined (will it include a non-parent/guardian in an adjacent tree stand ten feet away from the youth?).
The initiative exempts a temporary transfer “while hunting if the hunting is legal in all places where the person to whom the firearm is transferred possesses the firearm and the person to whom the firearm is transferred has completed all training and holds all licenses or permits required for such hunting, provided that any temporary transfer allowed by this subsection is permitted only if the person to whom the firearm is transferred is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law.”
Another very limited exemption: a person may loan a firearm to another while hunting but it must be in a place where hunting is legal, and the person to who the firearm is transferred has all the necessary permits. At his home, a brother may not loan his sibling his firearm for the sibling to use elsewhere for hunting, because hunting is not legal in all places (the home) where the person to whom the firearm is transferred possesses the firearm.
The NRA also points out that gun purchases by non-residents under I-594 is changed but concealed carry reciprocity remains unchanged.