Washington State's process of conducting background checks for firearms purchases is fragmented, and may not stop dangerous people from getting guns.
That’s the finding of a review of the state’s firearms law by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The report says Washington is one of the few states in which individual police agencies are responsible for conducting background checks for pistol purchases. A federal database is used for rifle purchases.
AG Ferguson says relying on each of 260 police agencies in the state to conduct background checks results in a “fragmented” system, that could allow felons or mentally ill gun buyers to slip through the cracks.
“No system in perfect, whether it’s for background checks or anything else, but the consequences for gaps in this particular system can obviously be profound,” Ferguson told KING 5 and public radio’s Northwest News Network.
The report was requested by executive order from Governor Jay Inslee earlier this year when Congress failed to pass additional gun control measures.
Both state and federal law require background checks for firearms purchases. Firearms dealers send the buyer’s information to authorities electronically at the time of sale. Authorities have up to ten days to complete a check for a pistol.
The report recommends creating a more centralized system in Washington for processing background checks.
The report also highlights shortcomings in Washington’s lawyer that results in defendants failing to surrender their guns to authorities when ordered by the court. It recommends additional measures to limit children’s access to firearms.
The report has been forwarded to Gov. Inslee for possible legislation.