Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility

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Yes on 594. Criminal background checks for private gun sales reduce crime and save lives.

June 20, 2013

The Secretary of State assigned us our number: Initiative 594.  Background checks for private gun sales reduce crime and save lives. Yes on 594.

The initiative makes sure anyone buying a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from.

This is an initiative to the legislature. We must gather over 325,000 signatures by January 4, 2014. If successful, the legislature has to consider the initiative.  If they pass it, it becomes law. If they punt, it goes to the people in November of 2014.

We will start gathering signatures after the Attorney General has set the ballot title, likely by the end of June. You can find the text at the Secretary of State’s website: http://1.usa.gov/11vF0OX

Overview

Criminal and public safety background checks dramatically reduce access to guns for criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. Federal law only requires background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers.  In the U.S., an estimated 40% of gun transfers take place without going through a licensed dealer, including online and at gun shows. That means that in 2012, 6.6 million guns were sold with no background check for the buyer. Criminals and other prohibited gun buyers know how to exploit this loophole, and they do. A national survey of inmates found that nearly 80% of those who used a handgun in a crime acquired it in a private transfer.

The Criminal Background Checks Initiative closes this loophole in Washington State by requiring that private sales and transfers —including those at gun shows or on the internet— go through the same background check process as sales through a licensed gun dealer.

Simple and Accessible Process:

  • The initiative is simple: it makes sure that anyone buying a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from.
  • When a private seller and buyer arrange to meet in person to conduct the transfer, they would meet at a licensed dealer, instead of in a parking lot or another public place.
  • The buyer and the licensed dealer would proceed as if the buyer were trying to purchase from a dealer. The buyer would complete the proper forms, and the dealer would call in the background check—in the exact same way as if the dealer were selling a firearm from its own inventory.
  • This initiative simply has private sales go through the same process people have been using successfully for years when purchasing from a licensed dealer.
  • This is an accessible process. 98% of Washingtonians live within 10 miles of a dealer. In fact, there are twice as may licensed gun dealers in Washington as there are US post offices.
  • Private parties complying with the background check requirement are exempt from sales tax.

Reasonable Exceptions – background checks are not required for:

  • Gifts between immediate family members
  • Antiques and relics
  • Temporary transfers for self-defense
  • Loans for lawful hunting or sporting activities

Supported by Washington Voters:

  • 7 out of 10 Washington voters support criminal background checks for all gun sales.

You can find the text at the Secretary of State’s website: http://1.usa.gov/11vF0OX

Top five contributors: Nicolas Hanauer, Ann Wyckoff, Lenore Hanauer, Connie Ballmer, True Patriot Network