House Bill 1501, a bipartisan effort, debuted on January 23rd in the Washington legislature. The bill would put a number of new provisions in place regarding the attempted illegal purchase of firearms in the state. Approximately 3,900 individuals tried and failed to purchase a gun in 2015 because they failed their background check. According to K5 News, these would-be gun owners included drug dealers, robbers, and domestic abusers. By filling out the necessary paperwork to purchase a gun, these individuals broke misdemeanor or felony laws - the paperwork requires buyers to certify that they legally eligible to purchase a gun.
Currently, once a buyer is denied, no penalty exists beyond the end result of being unable to purchase the gun. No investigation is carried out as to why they were trying to purchase and if they knew their attempt to purchase was illegal. The new bill, if enacted, would require all gun dealers to report cases of failed background check to Washington state police. Currently, police agencies do not report failed background checks to the county prosecutors' office, even though those individuals could be charged with attempted unlawful possession, according to county prosecutor Dan Satterburg. Once reported to law enforcement, cases could then be forwarded to county prosecutors.
King County Sheriff Urquhart, whose department recently dealt with massive budget cuts, says the department just doesn't have the resources to pursue and investigate such cases. Satterburg, a vocal supporter of 1501, maintains the importance of cracking down on the issue. “I think it undermines the credibility of the law when it looks like it's so easy to skirt it,” he said.
State and federal laws currently prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone with a felony conviction, a domestic violence conviction, a no-contact order against them, fugitives, or anyone involuntarily committed for mental illness.
Courtney Weaver spoke before the Washington House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday in support of the bill. Weaver, a domestic violence survivor who was shot twice by her ex-boyfriend when she tried to break up with him seven years ago, fears her ex will try to purchase a gun soon after he is released from prison. Not only would the bill require failed background checks to be investigated by the police department, but it would notify the potential victim, if any, of their attempt to purchase. Weaver says the measure could save her life in the event that her assailant does try to purchase a firearm upon his release.
The bill was crafted when the Judiciary Committee noticed a huge gap in enforcement of the provisions against prohibited gun buyers. Amping up and enforcing these provisions would further influence the lives of individuals after a criminal conviction, and could be a relevant factor to keep in mind for anyone currently facing a criminal charge.
If you are facing a criminal charge in the state of Washington, you are entitled to the defense of a skilled and experienced attorney. Call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today or contact him online and get the help you need to fight your criminal charge.