The Washington state Senate’s Law and Justice Committee has approved a bill targeting the thousands of people who illegally try to purchase a gun in Washington each year. It now heads to the Senate floor.
House Bill 1501 went through what sponsor Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, calls a “total rework”, but Hansen says “…I’m grateful to Senator (Mike) Padden for taking a leadership role in making sure we can crack down on criminal gun purchases and keep victims safe.”
Hansen says the bill’s overhaul would make implementation of the new law less costly.
The KING 5 Investigators and public radio’s Northwest News Network have reported that 3,948 firearms purchases were attempted in 2015 by people who failed the required criminal background check.
Even though it is against the law for felons and domestic violence abusers to apply to purchase a gun, the news organizations could not find a single case where police or prosecutors took action against an attempted buyer.
HB 1501 originally tapped the Washington State Patrol to investigate those purchase denials.
However, Hansen said a Law and Justice committee amendment would like local law agencies - which actually conduct the background check in the first place - responsible for following up on failed background checks. Hansen says law officer agencies could seek federal grants that help agencies pay for the additional costs of those investigations.
HB 1501 also requires that victims of crimes to be notified if their abuser tries to buy a gun.
The Washington House of Representatives has already approved HB 1501.