Sunday, October 26, 2014

Washington state Initiative 594

If you aren't from Washington you can probably ignore this.  Or you might think about the fact that this initiative language is probably coming to your state in the near future.  Michael Bloomberg donated a significant amount of money to the Yes campaign.

I-594 purports to close the background check "loophole".  It would mandate background checks for all firearm transfers in the state, with very limited exceptions.  The language is the problem, however.

First of all, "transfer" is defined VERY broadly.  Let me quote to you from the initiative text.

Transfer means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.
 Italics mine.  Let me propose some scenarios.

I purchase a new firearm.  Some friends are over who I've known for years.  They express interest and I hand the new firearm to one of them.  Transfer.  We have each committed a crime.  If I hand it to a second person I am guilty of two violations and this becomes a felony.

I am at the gun range.  The lady next to me expresses an interest in a rifle I am shooting as she has been looking at similar rifles for herself.  I allow her to shoot a few rounds through it to see if she likes it.  Transfer.  We have each committed a crime.

A friend is a skilled gunsmith.  He does not have a Federal Firearms License as he does not sell guns for a living, only fix them up for people.  I drop off my hunting rifle to be tuned a bit.  He returns it to me after doing some minor upgrades.  Transfer.  We have each committed a crime.

An instructor at a gun range provides pistols to his students to shoot at the range after the safety class has been conducted.  Transfer.  The instructor has committed multiple crimes, one for each student.

And finally, I decide to go elk hunting.  I have never hunted elk so I hire a guide.  As we are walking through the woods we come across a tree across the trail.  I hand the guide my gun so that I can climb over the tree.  Transfer.  We have each committed a crime.

The second problem with this initiative concerns inheritance.  Let's say a friend of mine owns several firearms.  He has some hunting rifles, a handgun that he bought for protection, and a handgun that belonged to his father.  He passes away.  He wife, according to the plain language of the text, has sixty days to register those firearms in her name.  On the sixty first day she becomes a criminal.  She has just lost her husband, she is grieving, making funeral arrangements, wondering about her financial future, and may have no idea that the guns that have always been in that safe in her bedroom don't just automatically belong to her.  Ignorance of the law, however, is no excuse.  She is a criminal.

This initiative serves no purpose OTHER than to make it harder for law abiding citizens to own firearms.  It will not affect criminals since most of their guns are not purchased legally.  It is designed for one thing only, to make more people criminals and ineligible to own a firearm.

Please vote NO on Initiative 594 if you live in this state.


No comments: